Half of coal tips in Merthyr Tydfil are classed as "higher risk", according to new data released by the Welsh Government today, amid calls for Westminster to help fund remediation works.

A quarter of tips in Rhondda Cynon Taf are also higher risk, with the area containing more Category D tips than anywhere else in Wales.

The new data*, confirming for the first time which specific local authorities house high risk coal tips, was released this morning ahead of a Coal Tip Safety Summit, which meets today for the fourth time.

*See the bottom of this article for a full breakdown for each area.

25 per cent of coal tips in RCT, where last year 60,000 tonnes of coal waste slid from a tip in Tylorstown, are rated C or D - these are the higher risk classifications in the government's temporary ranking system. The area tops the list for number of Category D tips, at 23.

In Merthyr Tydfil, meanwhile, 49 percent of tips are C or D, and the area has the highest percentage of Category D tips - 12 percent compared with RCT's 8 percent.

Around 44 per cent of tips in Monmouthshire are higher risk, but the area has far fewer tips than found in the Valleys.

Carmarthenshire, Flintshire and Ynys Môn each record no higher risk tips.

The National Wales: FM Mark Drakeford is calling on the UK government to fund Welsh coal tip remediation worksFM Mark Drakeford is calling on the UK government to fund Welsh coal tip remediation works

First Minister, Mark Drakeford, said: “We recognise how concerning living in the shadow of a coal tip can be for communities and we want to reassure local residents that a lot of work is being done to ensure they are safe.

“An inspection and maintenance regime is in place, with winter inspections currently underway on the higher risk tips.

"We’re also piloting technology trials to better understand any ground movement at higher risk sites.

"But we know the risks will increase with climate change and we know the importance of reaching a long-term solution."

READ MORE: Aberfan Disaster: Neglect, horror, trauma

The First Minister also urged the UK government to update Wales's funding settlement, asserting, ahead of Chancellor Rishi Sunak's budget announcement tomorrow, that our current grants do not recognise the costly work of repairing the legacy of coal-mining in Welsh communities.

The cost of stabilising Wales's more than 2,000 coal tips has been estimated at between £500-600million.

“These sites pre-date devolution," he added.

"Tomorrow’s Spending Review is an opportunity for the UK government to use its financial powers to help communities who’ve given so much to Wales and the United Kingdom during the coal-mining years."

The National Wales: Chancellor Rishi Sunak, thought to be the richest MP in the Commons, is set to announce his spending priorities tomorrow (Photo: PA)Chancellor Rishi Sunak, thought to be the richest MP in the Commons, is set to announce his spending priorities tomorrow (Photo: PA)

The precise locations of higher risk tips have not yet been released by the government, which says this information will be released once "further quality assurance work" has taken place.

The Welsh Government said: [This work] is ongoing to ensure the boundaries of each coal tip are accurate.

"This would have implications once any new statutory management regime comes into place."

The National understands work to notify and obtain data release consent from owners of the private land on which many tips sit is also ongoing.

READ MORE: Welsh mining communities are being left on the slag heap

This afternoon, South Wales Central MS, Heledd Fychan, called for the precise locations to be published and urgent action taken.

The National Wales: South Wales Central MS Heledd Fychan says that locals should be made aware of high risk tips near them, so that they can promptly report tip movements to the authorities (Photo: Huw Evans Agency)South Wales Central MS Heledd Fychan says that locals should be made aware of high risk tips near them, so that they can promptly report tip movements to the authorities (Photo: Huw Evans Agency)

“Only last year with the landslide at Tylorstown following Storm Dennis, we were starkly reminded of the threat posed by coal tips to the communities living in their shadows," she said.

“With the news that more are considered dangerous, urgent action is now needed to clear these tips once and for all. 

“Both the UK government and the Welsh Government are arguing over who should pay.

"Our communities need action not words, and I urge both governments to work together.

The National Wales: Communities throughout Wales faced severe flooding throughout 2020 (Photo: Huw Evans Agency)Communities throughout Wales faced severe flooding throughout 2020 (Photo: Huw Evans Agency)

“People living in the communities most at risk should also be told the status of the coal tips nearby, so that they can help authorities by urgently reporting any changes they may see.

"They are already living in fear, and we should be completely transparent in terms of the risk they are facing and the steps being taken to safeguard them.”

READ MORE: What exactly do environmental issues have to do with mental health?

Today's summit, attended by the First Minister and members of his cabinet, as well as representatives from the UK Coal Authority, Natural Resources Wales and RCT Council, will discuss the progress of the Coal Tip Safety Task Force, including data mapping and ongoing maintenance and inspection work.

The National Wales: Coil spoil tips are a common feature of the south Wales landscape (Photo: Rebecca Wilks)Coil spoil tips are a common feature of the south Wales landscape (Photo: Rebecca Wilks)

Last weekend The National spoke to a Rhondda resident, Phil Thomas, who lives directly below a coal tip in Ynyshir and is campaigning for Welsh tips to be cleared, as well as for greater transparency from authorities.

Mr Thomas said he worried that winter will bring further rainstorms - that the Senedd will be overtaken by events as climate change makes extreme rainfall more frequent.

“The weather doesn't wait for the budget to be approved, and neither should we be waiting - this work should be starting today,” he said.

“Look at Tylorstown - that’s a huge operation. We should be doing this with over 300 tips.

“They need to start the project now, so they can build the resources, the expertise and knowledge - before something really, truly unfortunate goes wrong.”

If you value The National's journalism, help grow our team of reporters by becoming a subscriber.