Stephen Kinnock, MP for Aberavon, last night introduced a Commons adjournment debate on January's flooding disaster. In the course of his speech, he revealed:
The Coal Industry Act 1994 transferred responsibility for mines, including the one in Skewen, to the UK Government. At that time, the Coal Authority was established and given the responsibility for managing the effects of past coalmining and dealing with the myriad environmental and safety related issues that are the legacy of the coalmining industry. The Skewen mine was inspected in 2011 and deemed a low risk, but it has since transpired that the map was incorrect and the wrong location had been inspected. Lessons must be learned from this sorry tale, but the bottom line is that the responsibility for the botched 2011 inspection lies squarely at the door of the Coal Authority and the UK Government. [My emphasis - FHL}
The minister in her reply initially stood by the defence that there was no legal liability on the part of the Coal Authority to make full financial restitution, but she otherwise sounded sympathetic and drew attention to further action on the part of the Authority last week.
Being cynical, it would not be in the interests of Welsh Conservatives contesting a list seat in the region in May's Welsh general election to be seen to be unfeeling. So there may well yet be a reasonable outcome for the individual sufferers from this tragedy.
For rolling news on restitution work, see the county borough council's page at https://www.npt.gov.uk/27174.