Tyne & Wear

North East mining areas still suffering from closures

Colliery (generic)
Image caption Thousands of jobs were lost when North East pits closed

Coalfield communities in the north-east of England are still facing major health and economic problems decades after pits closed, new research claims.

The Durham University study says conditions like asthma, back problems and chronic arthritis are significantly more likely in these areas.

Co-author Prof Sarah Curtis called for more targeted state aid to help struggling areas.

The government recently launched a £30m fund to help former mining areas.

Between 1984 and 1997, 170,000 people lost their jobs as pits closed across England and male employment in coalfield areas fell by 25%.

'Very severe'

Prof Curtis, of Durham University's Department of Geography, said: "Coalfield areas vary considerably and it's essential that government policy recognises the different levels of support that are needed and helps the areas with the greatest need.

"Some mining communities have struggled and need more assistance, whilst others have fared quite well, demonstrating considerable resilience in the wake of the huge job losses that affected these regions."

The results, published in the journal Health and Place, said rural coal mining areas, like those in Northumberland and County Durham, had been particularly badly affected.

Andy Lock, assistant director of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust said: "We know that health problems are still very severe in some places and our challenge from government is to continue to address health inequalities."

Researchers surveyed 4,750 from the country's 55 coalfield areas for the study.

They found that people living in coalfield communities were 27% more likely to report having a limiting long-term illness.

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