On Friday (17 February) I met with Tim Marples of the Coal Authority and other Senior Coal Authority Officers, and received an update on the coal shaft collapse at Hardgate. We discussed in detail a number of issues, including:
- An historic overview of coal mines in the area.
- Works to date and work still to be completed.
- The extent of the damage to utilities and sewage.
- Noise pollution from pumping stations impacting on local residents and the provision of low noise pumps.
- Improving communication with local residents in the near vicinity.
- Communication with Community Councils covering Hardgate, Duntocher, and Faifley.
- Communication with businesses being impacted by road closures and diversions.
I have been struck by the professionalism of the Coal Authority staff in their tackling of this profoundly complex problem; a mine shaft as deep as the Titan Crane stands tall. We should be in no doubt that this is a major structural project which is and will impact our daily lives, especially if you live or work in Hardgate, Duntocher and Faifley.
I have been assured by the Coal Authority staff that they are progressing speedily. They have also advised me that due to the profoundly complex nature and the impact on utilities, such as electricity, telephony and sewage that they will continue to progress in a manner that will not disrupt these utilities; if there is disruption to the utilities the project may last a long time and that is a situation that no one wishes.
I have also discussed with the Coal Authority similar subsidence in other countries notably the subsidence in Japan that many constituents have highlighted as being sorted in 24 hours. The Coal Authority advised that they were well aware of this case and while it was initially seen to be completed in 24 hours it collapsed again a month later.
I have asked that I receive regular updates from the Coal Authority and once received I will circulate publicly via my website and social media. I will also be seeking reassurances from the Council that once the Coal Authority has completed their complex works that the superficial road resurfacing will be pre-planned and ready to start as soon as the Coal Authority is off site.
I will also be asking the Council to ensure direct communication with the local community and businesses is greatly improved. A partnership approach will best serve us all in ensuring that this complex project is completed as quickly as possible.