§ Mr. French
To ask the President of the Board of Trade when a consultative document will be published on the review of the Mines (Working Facilities and Support) Acts.
§ Mr. Eggar
A consultative document on the review of the Mines (Working Facilities and Support) Acts is published today. A copy will be placed in the Library of the House, and further copies can be obtained from my Department.
As I announced to the House on 2 December 1993, Official Report, columns 735–36, the review has a remit to establish what amendment, revision or reform is needed to the powers to grant compulsory access to minerals in order to provide an integrated regime for all minerals for the next century. Following the privatisation of the coal industry, the special procedures which are available to opencast coal operators—and not to other operators—will expire on 31 December 1999. Subsequently, the procedures for opencast coal are to be unified with the general regime contained in the mines (Working Facilities and Support) Acts. In considering the issues, the review is to have regard to the need to exploit the country's mineral resources, to the perception that the current general procedures are expensive and time-consuming and to the need to protect the rights of landowners.
The consultative document takes into account representations received following the announcement of the review. It puts forward options on a number of issues which are of concern to those involved in, or likely to be affected by, mineral development activities. It covers the need for rights of compulsory access, and their nature: the system that should be used to determine applications for the grant of such rights; the criteria to be employed; the compensation to be payable; the relationship with the system for determining land planning applications; and a number of subsidiary issues.
Views on the issues and options set out in the consultative document, and any others relevant to this review, are requested to reach my Department by 31 July 1995.795W