ECONOMY minister Vaughan Gething has pledged to “finally tackle the scourge” of unsafe coal tips if his party elects him to become first minister in March.

At a manifesto launch event in Wrexham today, January 27, the Cardiff South and Penarth MS said he would do all he could to bring about “overdue action” on unsafe coal tips which were likely to become more dangerous with strong and frequent storms.

There are nearly 2,500 disused coal tips across Wales, mostly in the South Wales Valleys. One in seven are classified as category D, indicating a high risk.

The tips can become unstable during intense rainfall, which, Mr Gething says, becomes more likely with climate change.

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It comes nearly 58 years after the Aberfan disaster in which 116 children and 28 adults were killed when a colliery tip slid down a mountain, engulfing a row of houses and Pantglas Junior School. Some coal tips are yet to be removed.

Mr Gething said the Welsh Government was “ready to legislate” on this issue but the UK Government had “so far refused” to fund the long-term costs.

He said: “No one should have to live with the entirely preventable fear and anxiety that these tips cause for families in coalfield communities. This issue should be tackled as a matter of urgency.

“It is indefensible for the Tories to argue this is not a burden to be shared by the UK community as a whole.”

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Mr Gething said he would ensure collaboration with the UK Government as first minister, especially if there was a "constructive Labour administration".

He has also pledged to create an environmental governance body.

“The pollution of our rivers and watercourses has been one of the great scandals of the last 14 years of Tory rule, and we would introduce stricter penalties for those who break environmental rules,” he said.

“We would also invest to protect communities from flooding, coastal erosion and other impacts of the climate emergency.”