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Flintshire County Council Unitary Development Plan 2000-2015
Adopted 28th September 2011

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Chapter 18

Minerals

Relevant Strategic Aims

h. Resources

Policy Objectives
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Policy List
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  1. supporting the economy - to enable the sustainable extraction of mineral resources to meet the needs of the local, regional and national economy
  2. impact of extraction - to protect sensitive areas from inappropriate minerals development and to mitigate the impact of minerals development on the environment
  3. safeguarding resources - to protect mineral resources from sterilisation and to ensure the appropriate use of minerals
  4. restoration - to ensure sites used for minerals purposes are restored to the highest possible standards

MIN1 Guiding Minerals Development

MIN2 Minerals Development

MIN3 Controlling Minerals Operations

MIN4 Restoration and Aftercare

MIN5 Dormant, Inactive and Interim Development Order Sites

MIN6 Review of Mineral Permissions

MIN7 Exploration for Minerals

MIN8 Protection of Mineral Interests

MIN9 Borrow Pits

MIN10 Mineral Buffer Zones

Indicators of Policy Performance

Targets

  1. Status of minerals land banks and extraction of permitted reserves

 

 

18 Minerals

Introduction

18.1 Minerals as a resource are important elements of the development plan, and the sustainable development debate. To develop a sustainable economy and lifestyle, sustainable development requires that resources are used prudently. Whilst the development plan cannot, in itself, meet all the challenges which this debate presents, it can seek to influence patterns of land use, and by limiting the detrimental impacts of new development on the wider environment it can help to ensure that the people of Flintshire enjoy a safe and healthy quality of life.

18.2 Minerals are important national resources and their exploitation makes an essential contribution to the nation’s prosperity. Whilst the extraction of minerals can be environmentally disruptive, they can only be worked where they are found. Minerals extraction presents significant challenges to planning authorities, which seek to promote economic development while maintaining the quality of the local environment. Policies within the development plan aim to strike a balance between all of these needs seeking to mitigate the impacts of minerals development and to prevent development in those sensitive locations where mineral extraction and associated activities would have an unacceptable impact.

 

National Planning Policy

18.3 Minerals Planning Policy (Wales) produced in December 2000 together with the Aggregates TAN (2004) sets the policy framework for all minerals policies contained within Welsh Unitary Development Plans. As such, when determining applications for minerals development it will be important to consider the national policies in association with the development plan.

18.4 Specifically MPPW requires that:

  1. Of minerals resources within the authority area and of reserves with planning permission;
  2. Of local, regional, and national distribution and production of each mineral and its significance within the authority area;

18.5 Minerals Planning Policy (Wales) emphasises the role of the Minerals Planning Authority should be to “.....ensure the proper balance is struck between that fundamental requirement, the need to ensure a prudent use of finite resources, and the protection of existing amenity and the environment. Any effect on local communities and the environment must be minimised and therefore ameliorated to an acceptable standard. In certain areas, mineral extraction may not be acceptable”. The five key principles of MPPW are as follows:

  1. Provide mineral resources to meet society’s needs and to safeguard resources from sterilisation.
  2. Protect areas of importance to natural or built heritage.
  3. Limit the environmental impact of mineral extraction.
  4. Achieve high standard restoration and beneficial after-use.
  5. Encourage efficient and appropriate use of minerals and the re-use and recycling of suitable materials.

18.6 The North Wales Regional Aggregates Working Party Annual Report in 2003 indicated the supply and demand of aggregates for the construction industry. On the basis of previous estimates of mineral demand and rates of extraction it is considered that North Wales benefits from a significant reserve of aggregate and sand and gravel reserves. Indeed North East Wales (including Flintshire) benefits from a landbank of 33 years for limestone and 14 years for sand and gravel (at 2003 base date). It is evident that the mineral reserves in North Wales are extensive and are very likely to meet future mineral demands beyond the life of the Unitary Development Plan especially when considering new mineral permissions in neighbouring authorities.

18.7 It is considered that the landbank for the region and the sub-region is sufficient to meet future need. As such the Flintshire UDP does not identify the need for new minerals extraction within the Plan period and neither does it propose to make allocations for any new minerals extraction. Any future proposals for minerals extraction will be determined against the Plan’s policies and, when available, the Regional Technical Statement, which will provide a steer for the region in meeting future mineral needs without compromising environmental assets such as the Clwydian Range Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the environmental capacity of the County.

 

Policies

 

MIN1 Guiding Minerals Development

Proposals for the winning, working, processing and/or recovery of minerals will be assessed against the need for new mineral workings and the ability of existing sites to meet demand. Preference will be given to the use of secondary and recycled materials and mineral waste.

Where there is a clear and demonstrable need for primary materials, preference will be given to:

  1. the deepening of existing mineral workings; and
  2. the lateral extension of mineral workings.

18.8 Minerals are vital to the economy of the United Kingdom and to Flintshire. It is important that the planning system facilitates the minerals extraction and processing industries to ensure the continued supply of minerals to the marketplace whilst safeguarding high quality mineral resources from use as lower grade material. The Minerals Planning Authority will seek to ensure that mineral resources are extracted and utilised in a sustainable way in order to make an appropriate contribution to the needs of society.

18.9 Given the extensive landbank for aggregates, further extensions to existing sites or new extraction sites will not be permitted save in rare and exceptional circumstances. Such a situation could arise where, for example, the supply of an aggregate of a particular specification is clearly demonstrated or where operators are prepared to unilaterally surrender the consents relating to existing permitted reserves through planning agreements or Prohibition Orders. To ensure minerals are used appropriately it will be necessary for proposals to demonstrate that there is a need for the mineral to be extracted. This is a key consideration and proposals which fail to demonstrate need will be refused. To demonstrate need developers should consider the local, regional and national economies, the existing supply of minerals, and the ability of existing supplies to meet current and projected market demand. Where a demand is identified it will be necessary for developers to demonstrate the need for land-won materials instead of secondary and recycled resources. There are limitations to the use of recycled waste materials and the Council recognises that it will not be appropriate for all proposals to consider this potential, for example in those proposals where a high quality mineral is required.

18.10 Because of the long term nature of mineral workings it is sometimes more sustainable and environmentally acceptable to permit the deepening or lateral extension of an existing mineral working than to permit a new mineral development. The UDP takes a sequential approach to proposals for new mineral development with preference being given firstly to the use of secondary and recycled materials; secondly to the deepening of existing workings, provided it does not have an unacceptable adverse impact on groundwater or other environmental interests; thirdly to the lateral extension to existing workings, provided the extension does not have an unacceptable adverse impact on existing communities and on other landscape, historic and environmental interests; and lastly to the development of new mineral workings.

18.11 In using the sequential approach it will be necessary to assess the impact of each of the preferred options in accordance with the entire minerals policy suite (particularly MIN 2) and the rest of the development plan to ensure the development is of an acceptable standard, the development is appropriately located, and the adverse impacts of the development are mitigated and minimised.

 

Other key Policies:

 

MIN2 Minerals Development

Proposals for the winning, working, processing and/or recovery of minerals will be assessed with regard to the following criteria:

a. the development will not have a significant adverse impact upon the following interests of importance:

  1. the River Dee Estuary;
  2. Holywell Common and Halkyn Mountain;
  3. sites of international, national, regional or local environmental, nature conservation, landscape and/or heritage importance.

b. Minerals development should not take place in the Clwydian Range AONB save in exceptional circumstances, subject to the most rigorous examination and demonstrated to be in the public interest;

c. the amenity of local people is not significantly affected;

d. the economic viability of the area is not compromised;

e. visual intrusion arising from site working, creation of overburden mounds or the presence of plant and machinery;

f. the impact of mineral operations on land stability;

g. satisfactory management and disposal of mineral waste; and

h. the cumulative effects of mineral operations, involving operational or consented sites, in the locality.

18.12 This policy seeks to locate minerals development away from sensitive locations to protect the community and the environment. Minerals development should not take place in the AONB save in exceptional circumstances. All minerals development proposals must be subject to the most rigorous examination and demonstrated to be in the public interest before being allowed to proceed. Consideration will be given to the factors outlined in para 21 of MPPW in assessing proposals. Minerals proposals adjacent to or close to the AONB that might affect its setting will be carefully assessed to determine whether the environmental and amenity impact is acceptable. In exceptional instances where permission is granted the Planning Authority will seek to ensure the highest standards of development and operations are abided to by the operator.

18.13 The visual intrusion of minerals development will be assessed in terms of the effects arising from site working, amendments to landform and any associated plant and machinery. Where ground instability is likely to be an issue, a land stability report will be required, setting out the issues relevant to the locality and how they will be overcome. Developers will be required to establish how mineral waste arising from extraction will be managed and disposed of. An assessment of the cumulative impacts of additional proposals will be required having regard to both operational and consented sites in the vicinity. This should seek to identify whether the proposed mitigation measures are sufficient to address the identified impacts and whether additional measures are required. Minerals development will be expected to meet all of the policy requirements as laid out above. If this is done then it will be necessary for the detail of the application to meet the requirements of MIN3.

 

Other key policies:

 

MIN3 Controlling Minerals Operations

Provided the criteria of Policies MIN1 and MIN2 are met, then mineral workings will be permitted where:

  1. the additional traffic burden can be accommodated by the existing highway network without significant adverse impact;
  2. the movements of vehicles to and from the site do not cause unacceptable harm to the living conditions of nearby residents;
  3. blasting operations do not cause unacceptable harm to the surrounding area by reason of vibration;
  4. noise from the winning, working, processing and/or recovery of minerals will not cause significant disturbance to noise sensitive locations;
  5. dust, smoke and fumes from processing operations and handling operations will not have an adverse impact on sensitive locations and on the surrounding vegetation; and
  6. it would not result in significant adverse impact on land drainage, groundwater resources or water supplies.

18.14 The Mineral Planning Authority is charged with the task of monitoring mineral permissions in the County to ensure the operations of the mineral working are compliant with conditional permissions; conditions are drafted to ensure that the impact of minerals operators is minimised as far as possible. It is important therefore that developers ensure that proposals meet the above operations criteria. To assess the impact of the traffic generated by the development the Minerals Planning Authority will expect developers to submit details of the anticipated number of vehicle movements and the proposed routes of these vehicles. Noise sensitive locations include residential dwellings and gardens, places of worship, educational establishments, hospitals or similar institutions and livestock farms. Sensitive locations are defined in the Town & Country Planning (EIA) (England and Wales) Regs 1991 and include amongst others, areas of special scientific interest, scheduled ancient monuments, AONB’s and European Sites.

 

Other key policies:

 

MIN4 Restoration and Aftercare

The Minerals Planning Authority requires that all minerals development proposals be accompanied by a scheme of restoration and aftercare. Such a scheme will set out the short and long term maintenance and improvement of the site. The scheme should address and make full reference to the following criteria:

  1. the undertaking of works which will limit the impact of the mineral workings operations on the surrounding environment;
  2. a timetable detailing the progressive restoration of the site to the highest most practicable standards;
  3. the proposed afteruse and;
  4. the final landform design taking into consideration the surrounding topography and landscape character.

18.15 The restoration of a mineral workings site is a key consideration for the Minerals Planning Authority and applications which lack the necessary detail (as specified in the policy above) will not receive planning permission. Applicants will be encouraged to restore sites with the intention of maximising their use for nature conservation and for informal recreation purposes (i.e. boating lakes, footpaths etc).

 

Other Key Policy

 

MIN5 Dormant, Inactive and Interim Development Order Sites

The Minerals Planning Authority will seek to ensure that all dormant, inactive and interim development order minerals sites meet modern planning standards both in their operations and in the restoration of a site.

18.16 Within Flintshire there are many sites which currently hold permission for the extraction of minerals. Some of these permissions date back prior to World War Two (pre-1939). For the Minerals Planning Authority, historic permissions pose a significant problem since they contain grossly inadequate conditions to control their development. Historic permissions may well omit conditions relating to, for example, blasting; the movement of vehicles servicing the site; the restoration of the site; and/or the reuse of the site. Where modern standards are omitted the Minerals Planning Authority will seek to achieve a better standard of development which meets the aims and objectives of this Plan and which complies with its policies. The Council has confirmed prohibition orders on 18 dormant sites and there are only two dormant sites remaining at Grange, Pantasaph and Mount Pool, Buckley.

 

MIN6 Review of Mineral Permissions

The Minerals Planning Authority will undertake an annual assessment of all dormant mineral sites and sites that have not been worked for 10 years to identify their potential contribution to the landbank and the likelihood of their reopening. Where appropriate, prohibition orders will be served under s.102 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

18.17 Unfortunately in the past the MPA has granted permission for minerals extraction but the expansion of settlements, the growth of new settlements and the recognised importance of other interests, forces the MPA to reconsider some of those permissions. Minerals Planning Authorities have the authority to review existing planning permissions and to modify or revoke planning consent. In such instances where the MPA prejudices the asset value of a minerals site it will be liable to pay compensation to the sites owners. While this route is a costly one it may be necessary to undertake these proceedings where the reopening and resumption of operations presents a real threat to the communities of Flintshire.

 

MIN7 Exploration for Minerals

The Minerals Planning Authority will permit exploration works for a temporary period as long as they do not have a significant adverse impact on the environment and the site is fully restored to its former state.

18.18 Proposals for trial excavations, boreholes or any other exploratory development will normally be permitted for a temporary period provided the development does not pose a threat to the environment. Where the pollution of water courses, groundwater or other water resources is a possibility it will be necessary for the Minerals Planning Authority to consult with the Environment Agency prior to permitting the development. Normally it will be expected that permission will be granted for a temporary period of three months, and extensions beyond this period must be negotiated with the Minerals Planning Authority and fully justified by the developer.

 

MIN8 Protection of Mineral Interests

To ensure that known mineral resources are safeguarded for future use, Mineral Safeguarding Areas (MSA’s) have been identified and are shown on the proposals map.

Any non-mineral development within a MSA will require evidence as to what extent it may sterilise or restrict the working of mineral resources. Where the evidence is not forthcoming or demonstrates that there will be an unacceptable impact on mineral resources the application will be refused. However, where it is considered that the proposed development is of overriding importance, consideration will be given to the principle of pre-extraction of the minerals.

18.19 Within the County there are significant deposits of important mineral resources. It is important that these mineral resources are safeguarded to ensure their availability in the future. Developments proposed within identified Mineral Safeguarding Areas will be assessed to ensure they do not sterilise mineral resources either by developing over identified deposits or by restricting future mineral extraction. Within the Minerals Safeguarding Area consultation between the Minerals Planning Authority, the minerals industry and others will be undertaken before certain non-mineral planning applications made within the area are determined.

18.20 Policy MIN8 seeks to ensure that all mineral interests are adequately safeguarded from unnecessary sterilisation and loss. Whilst the Proposals Map only identifies Minerals Safeguarding Areas for hard rock and sand and gravel deposits, this policy will also apply to the protection of energy minerals. The exploitation of energy minerals such as coal is unlikely to be a significant issue for this Plan period but may have considerable future importance for Flintshire. Areas such as Point of Ayr and the site of the Point of Ayr Colliery are perhaps the best examples of where it will be necessary to consider the protection of deep coal seems from unnecssary development and subsequent sterilisation.

 

Other Key Policies:

 

MIN9 Borrow Pits

Proposals for the development of borrow pits will be permitted provided that:

  1. there are demonstrable environmental benefits to be gained; and
  2. they can be developed in accordance with mineral planning policies.

18.21 Borrow Pits are temporary mineral workings developed to supply a particular construction project. Borrow pits can offer significant environmental benefits over mineral supply from existing reserves. They should be located near to the project and preferably supply material direct without the use of public roads. There need to be clear environmental benefits from the use of a borrow pit and restoration should be to a high standard.

 

MIN10 Mineral Buffer Zones

Mineral Buffer Zones are identified on the Proposals Maps based on a minimum distance of 100m for sand and gravel workings (and others where no blasting is permitted) and 200m for hard rock quarries. Development within Minerals Buffer Zones for new mineral extraction or sensitive development will not be permitted.

18.22 The principle of Buffer Zones was established in Minerals Planning Policy Wales in order to protect land uses or developments that are most sensitive to the impact of mineral operations by establishing a separation distance between potentially conflicting land uses. Sensitive development is any building occupied by people on a regular basis and includes housing areas, hostels, meeting places schools and hospitals, where an acceptable standard of amenity should be expected. Buffer zones will also help to prevent the sterilisation of mineral resources. As such, developments proposed within the Buffer Zones are also likely to be assessed under Policy MIN8 if they fall within the Mineral Safeguarding Area.

18.23 The extent of the Buffer Zones has been defined based on the minimum distances specified in MTAN1. They provide a clear indication of the areas within which there is likely to be conflict between minerals and other forms of development. Within the Buffer Zone, there should be no new mineral extraction or sensitive development. However other developments which are less sensitive to impact from mineral operations, for example industry, offices and some ancillary development related to the mineral working, may be acceptable within the Buffer Zone.

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