Nottinghamshire Minerals Local Plan Publication Version
3.1. The strategic policies within this chapter are designed to deliver the vision and objectives of the Minerals Local Plan and provide the overall framework for future minerals development within Nottinghamshire. They are designed to ensure that the right amount of minerals development takes place in appropriate locations, and at the right time, whilst protecting local amenity and the built, natural and historic environment. The strategic policies should be read alongside the more detailed minerals provision and development policies in Chapters 4 and 5.
Presumption in favour of sustainable development
3.2. National planning policy is clear that the purpose of the planning system is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development through the three overarching objectives of securing overall economic, social and environmental gains. Planning policies and decisions should actively guide development towards sustainable solutions that reflect the local character, needs and opportunities of each area.
3.3. When considering development proposals, the Council will take a positive approach that reflects the presumption in favour of sustainable development contained in the National Planning Policy Framework. The Council will work proactively with applicants to jointly find solutions which mean that proposals can be approved wherever possible, and to secure development that improves the economic, social and environmental conditions in the area.
3.4. Planning applications that accord with the policies in this Local Plan (and, where, relevant, with policies in other plans which form part of the development plan) will be approved unless material considerations indicate otherwise.
3.5. Where there are no policies relevant to the application, or relevant policies are out of date at the time of making the decision, the Council will grant planning permission unless material considerations indicate otherwise – taking into account whether:
- The application of policies in the NPPF that protect areas or assets of particular importance provides a clear reason for refusing the development proposed or
- Any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against policies in the NPPF taken as a whole.
3.6. It is a national planning objective that planning, including planning for mineral development supports the transition to a low-carbon economy, taking into account flood risk, water supply and changes to biodiversity and the landscape. All new mineral development proposals will be expected to be planned from the outset to avoid increased vulnerability to the range of impacts resulting from climate change and care will need to be taken to ensure any potential risks can be managed through suitable adaptation measures.
3.7. Minerals are essential to support economic growth and quality of life by providing the raw materials to create new infrastructure, buildings and goods as well as providing energy and a source of local jobs. Nottinghamshire is rich in minerals and supplies a wide range of markets both regionally and nationally. In line with national policy, it is important to identify suitable reserves to provide a steady and adequate supply of construction, industrial and energy minerals to meet future needs.
3.8. Minerals are a finite natural resource and can only be worked where they are found. It is therefore essential that the best use of available resources is made in order to secure their long-term conservation. Within Nottinghamshire the priority is therefore to extend existing sites, in preference to developing new sites, and to encourage the use of secondary and recycled aggregates far as possible (see Policy MP5) and safeguard important resources from sterilisation (see Policy DM13).
Policy SP1 – Minerals Provision
The strategy for the supply of minerals in Nottinghamshire is as follows:
- Identify suitable land for mineral extraction to maintain a steady and adequate supply of minerals during the plan period;
- Give priority to the extension of existing sites, where economically, socially and environmentally acceptable;
- Allow for development on non-allocated sites where a need can be demonstrated; and
- Ensure the provision of minerals in the plan remains in-line with wider economic trends through regular monitoring.
- All proposals for mineral development must demonstrate that they have prioritised the avoidance of adverse social, economic and environmental impacts of the proposed development.
3.9. To ensure that adequate and steady supplies can be maintained the National Planning Policy Framework sets out specific requirements for the different types of minerals according to their end use and the need to maintain a landbank of permitted reserves for certain minerals. Where the existing level of reserves is not sufficient for the plan period, the Minerals Local Plan must identify suitable land to meet the expected shortfall. As part of preparing this plan, the Council has carried out a detailed assessment of its remaining permitted mineral reserves and identified where additional reserves should be provided. Therefore, alongside the strategic position set out in policy SP1 above, polices MP1 – MP12 make specific provision for each of the minerals which are likely to be worked in Nottinghamshire during the plan period.
3.10. Extending existing sites, where feasible, is considered to be more sustainable than developing new sites. This can be more efficient as the existing site access and processing plant can be used to recover mineral that may not otherwise be worked and the environmental impacts are generally less than those associated with opening up a new site. However it is important that the potential cumulative impacts of continuing minerals development are considered in all cases. All new proposals, whether allocated or otherwise, will need to be assessed in terms of their impact on local communities and the environment including matters such as landscape, heritage, biodiversity and climate, and what contribution they would make to achieving local and national biodiversity targets. These issues are set out in more detail within the detailed development management polices DM1-17 which provide appropriate safeguards for the location, operation, restoration and after-use of future minerals sites.
3.11. Nottinghamshire County Council promotes a restoration led approachwhen considering proposed mineral workings. It is seen as vital that the restoration and future use of the land is addressed at the outset not just at the pre-application discussion stage of preparing planning applications.
3.12. The County Council aims to ensure mineral sites are reclaimed in a way that seeks to maintain and significantly enhance the County's diverse environment and biodiversity, in line with Local Plan Strategic Objective 6.
3.13. Restoration should be seen as an integral part of the management and phasing of the whole extraction process. This includes biodiversity, landscape, economic and recreational opportunities. This does not mean placing an added onus or burden upon the minerals industry, rather it ensures that appropriate restoration solutions are formulated and opportunities are realised.
3.14. It is recognised that restoration for leisure uses or for agriculture may be appropriate. Nevertheless, such restorations can still be 'biodiversity-led', for example by ensuring that agricultural restorations reinstate native hedgerows with wide field margins, and create new areas of species-rich grassland, copses and ponds.
Policy SP2 – Biodiversity-Led Restoration
- Restoration schemes that seek to maximise biodiversity gains in accordance with the targets and opportunities identified within the Nottinghamshire Local Biodiversity Action Plan will be supported.
- Where appropriate, schemes will be expected to demonstrate how restoration will contribute to the delivery of Water Framework Directive objectives.
- Restoration schemes for allocated sites should be in line with the relevant Site Allocation Development Briefs contained within Appendix 2.
3.15. The Government's Natural Environment White Paper (2011) places the value of nature at the centre of the choices that are made ensuring that the environment is enhanced and economic growth and personal wellbeing is taken into account. This is reinforced in the Government's 25 Year Environment Plan, published in 2018, which promotes the concept of embedding environmental 'net-gain' into all development. Once minerals extraction sites have fulfilled their primary purpose of providing mineral, the restoration of such sites can have a major environmental benefit. There is considerable potential to create large new areas of habitat and to improve the links between existing fragmented areas of habitat.
3.16. The restoration of mineral sites therefore has an important role to play in meeting targets for the creation of new habitat, both nationally and locally. Nationally the RSPB estimates that minerals restoration schemes could meet, or in some cases, exceed the targets for a number of Habitats of Principal Importance for Conservation in England. These supersede what were previously known as UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP) priority habitats.
3.17. The restoration of mineral voids offers a significant opportunity for the establishment or re-establishment of priority habitats, often on a large-scale, and for providing re-created linkages between fragmented blocks of specific habitat types and with river floodplains, where appropriate, thereby strengthening and enhancing ecological networks.
3.18. Whilst new habitat has been delivered in Nottinghamshire through minerals restoration schemes in the past, a more systematic approach offers far greater opportunities. With careful planning at an early stage, the level of high-quality habitat delivered by mineral extraction can be increased, creating valuable places for both wildlife and people and contributing to the delivery of landscape-scale conservation, supporting initiatives such as the RSPB's Futurescapes and the Wildlife Trusts' Living Landscapes.
3.19. This landscape-scale approach seeks to look beyond small protected sites to deliver nature conservation on a larger scale across the countryside. The Trent and Idle Valleys are considered to be a key area for such a landscape-scale approach with opportunities for cross-boundary action between Minerals Planning Authorities to enable a coordinated, strategic approach to maximise the restoration potential of individual sites.
3.20. By creating new habitats, and contributing to landscape-scale nature conservation, considerable progress can be made towards creating a countryside that is more permeable to wildlife by establishing linkages, stepping stones and corridors of habitat and more coherent ecological networks which are more resilient to future pressures such as climate change and which allow the movement and dispersal of wildlife species.
3.21. National targets for the creation of priority habitats are set out in the Government's 'Biodiversity 2020' strategy and these are broken down by the different National Character Areas (NCAs) identified by Natural England. Within Nottinghamshire there are eight NCAs including the Sherwood NCA and the Trent and Belvoir Vales NCA. At the local level, the County Council is a signatory to the Nottinghamshire Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) that aims to aid the recovery of threatened priority habitats and species.
3.22. Minerals extraction, particularly sand and gravel extraction in the Trent Valley, but also the extraction of resources in other parts of the County, can contribute significantly towards meeting these targets and add to the success of existing priority habitat restoration schemes. Restoration schemes should be carefully considered so that they can deliver as much LBAP priority habitat as possible and that such habitats are appropriate to the relevant National Character Area. Applicants are therefore encouraged to engage in early discussions with the County Council and other appropriate bodies in relation to restoration proposals.
3.23. Priority habitats that should be created or restored/enhanced in the Trent and Idle Valleys are:
- Floodplain Grazing Marsh;
- Marsh and Swamp;
- Lowland Fen;
- Wet Woodland;
- Other habitats such as Lowland Neutral Grassland and Mixed Ash-dominated Woodland may also be appropriate in some cases, and there are also potential opportunities for Lowland Dry Acid Grassland and Oak-birch Woodland in some eastern areas of the Trent Valley.
3.24. Priority habitats that should be created or restored/enhanced in the Sherwood Sandstone area are:
- Lowland Heathland;
- Lowland Dry Acid Grassland;
- Wood pasture and parkland
- Oak-birch Woodland;
- Other habitats such as Marsh and Swamp may also be appropriate in some cases.
3.25. Priority habitats that should be created or restored/enhanced in the Magnesian Limestone area are:
- Lowland Calcareous Grassland;
- Mixed Ash-dominated Woodland;
- Other habitats such as Marsh and Swamp may also be appropriate in some cases.
3.26. LBAP priority habitats in areas where the extraction of clay, gypsum and coal takes place should reflect those habitats occurring in the vicinity and will differ depending on locality. More generally, other habitats, including Ponds and Hedgerows, can be incorporated into most restorations independent of location. It is also expected that Eutrophic Standing Waters (lakes) may be created as a result of quarrying, although this habitat should be minimised as far as possible in favour of the other habitat types listed above.
3.27. As a principle, restorations should also seek to restore more extensive areas of a small number of habitats at any one site, rather than try to create smaller areas of many different habitats, so that the value of restored areas is maximised and future management is made easier. Habitats should be re-created that are appropriate to that Natural Character Area and optimal use should be made of the soil properties and types on the site to create priority habitats. Within larger habitat types, there is also the potential for important micro-habitats.
Water Framework Directive
3.28. The Humber River Basin Management Plan has been prepared by the Environment Agency under the Water Framework Directive which requires all countries throughout the European Union to manage the water environment to consistent standards. The Humber River Basin District is one of the most diverse regions in England, ranging from the upland areas of the Peak District, South Pennines and the North York Moors, across the Derbyshire and Yorkshire Dales and the fertile river valleys of the Trent and Ouse, to the free-draining chalk of the Wolds. Water supports these landscapes and their wildlife and pressures that the water environment faces need to be considered.
3.29. Minerals development can contribute towards meeting Water Framework Directive objectives, including by facilitating improvements to water quality, riverine habitats, floodplain reconnection and improving the status of fish populations, and restoration schemes will be expected to contribute towards these objectives, where appropriate.
3.30. The Government is committed to tackling the causes of climate change and planning can play a key role in securing reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, minimising vulnerability and providing resilience to the impacts of climate change. This is central to the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. Nottinghamshire County Council is committed to reducing the impact from development on climate change.
3.31. All new development, including minerals extraction, should therefore seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid increased vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, including flooding, where practicable.
Policy SP3 – Climate Change
All minerals development, including site preparation, operational practices and restoration proposals should minimise their impact on the causes of climate change for the lifetime of the development. Where applicable development should assist in the reduction of vulnerability and provide resilience to the impacts of climate change by:
- Being located, designed and operated to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, withstand unavoidable climate impacts and move towards a low-carbon economy;
- Avoiding areas of vulnerability to climate change and flood risk. Where avoidance is not possible, impacts should be fully mitigated;
- Developing restoration schemes which will contribute to addressing future climate change adaptation, including through biodiversity and habitat creation, carbon storage and flood alleviation.
3.32. The Nottinghamshire Sustainable Community Strategy (SCS) is committed to taking a sustainable approach to planning development that responds to the challenges of climate change and takes wider environmental considerations into account when making decisions about the location, nature and size of new development.
3.33. The nature and scale of new minerals development will influence the extent to which climate change resilience measures will be most effective and appropriate. Mineral development can provide a number of opportunities to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of future climate change.
3.34. This could include:
- Restoration of mineral sites and restoration schemes that include measures such as flood water storage, the creation of biodiversity habitats, living carbon sinks, and wider ecosystem services
- The use of on-site renewable energy installations
- The use of energy efficient plant
- The use of sustainable modes of transport, low emission vehicles, travel plans
- Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS), water efficiency and adaptive responses to the impacts of excess heat and drought
- Measures to improve water quality where feasible.
3.35. Other measures may include the sustainable use of resources through the use of recycled and secondary aggregates in the construction industry.
3.36. This policy does not presume against the future extraction of energy minerals. Indigenous mineral extraction has potential benefits in environmental and climate change terms.
3.37. Most minerals extracted in Nottinghamshire are currently transported by road, as this is often the cheapest and most flexible way of serving a diverse range of markets. Historically some sand and gravel has been transported by barge and there may be potential for some minerals to be moved by water, rail or pipeline in future.
3.38. Minerals development therefore has the potential to generate large volumes of HGV traffic which can have adverse impacts on local communities in terms of noise, air pollution, vibration and dust. Increased levels of traffic can also cause potential safety issues for other road users and increase the level of greenhouse gas emissions impacting on the climate.
3.39. When dealing with proposals for future mineral extraction consideration needs to be given to the distances over which minerals need to be transported, how they are to be transported, and assess the likely impacts on the natural and built environment, climate, local amenity and quality of life. In order to minimise any possible transport related impacts, alternative, more sustainable forms of transport will be encouraged.
Policy SP4 – Sustainable Transport
- All mineral proposals should seek to maximise the use of sustainable forms of transport, including barge, rail and pipeline.
Where it can be demonstrated that there is no viable alternative to road transport, all new mineral working and mineral related development should be located as follows:
- within close proximity to existing or proposed markets to minimise transport movement; and
- within close proximity to the County's main highway network and existing transport routes in order to avoid residential areas, minor roads, and minimise the impact of road transportation.
- Proposals requiring the bulk transport of minerals, minerals waste/fill or materials/substances used for the extraction of minerals by road will be required to demonstrate that more sustainable forms of transport are not viable.
3.40. Minerals in Nottinghamshire are predominantly transported by road, generating significant HGV movements which can impact on local amenity, environmental quality and climate issues. The National Planning Policy Framework highlights the importance of reducing both greenhouse gases and congestion. Consequently, developments which generate significant movement should be located so as to minimise the need for travel and maximise the use of sustainable means of transport.
3.41. Wherever possible therefore, minerals sites should be located close to their end market in order to minimise overall transport distances. However, this will not always be feasible where the site is needed to supply a regional or national market and so the promotion of alternative, more sustainable forms of transport such as barge or rail transport is important.
3.42. Sand and gravel is a relatively low-cost mineral and is not generally cost effective to transport over long distances. However, it can be transported economically over long distances by water. Barge transport has historically been used to transport sand and gravel along the River Trent to Yorkshire and Humberside from Besthorpe quarry north of Newark. Studies have shown there is potential to increase water-borne freight on parts of the river. However, restrictions on barge sizes upstream of Cromwell Lock may restrict the viability of barging minerals downstream to Nottingham.
3.43. Rail transport of minerals is possible, but expensive, and therefore only likely to be viable over very long distances. Its potential use will also depend upon on whether there is sufficient infrastructure and capacity on the rail network. Pipelines and conveyors can be used to move minerals on-site from the extraction area to the processing plant reducing the need to use heavy machinery minimising noise and dust. In certain cases it may be possible to use conveyors or pipelines to import fill materials such as power station ash on to quarries as part of the restoration although this is only possible if the source of the material is close by.
3.44. Where road transport is necessary, sites should be located close to the main highway network in order to minimise potential impacts on local communities and Nottinghamshire's environment. In line with national policy, proposals should be accompanied by a Transport Assessment or Transport Statement to set out the transport issues associated with the proposed development and what measures will be needed to manage those issues. This may include improvements to the existing transport infrastructure to improve junction visibility or vehicle capacity, or the use of routeing agreements to control traffic movement and direct vehicles away from sensitive areas such as residential areas or important habitats. This can be achieved by the use of planning conditions or legal (S106) agreements where appropriate (see Policy DM11). Policy DM9 considers highway safety and vehicle movements/routeing in more detail.
3.45. Mineral extraction by its very nature can have a detrimental impact on the natural and built environment, albeit temporary in nature. Nevertheless, mineral extraction can also bring about many environmental benefits. The restoration of worked out quarries can significantly increase biodiversity, provide increased access and recreational opportunities or return the land to agriculture. All minerals related development should therefore be designed, operated and restored to the highest standards to minimise potential impacts.
Policy SP5 – The Built, Historic and Natural Environment
All mineral development proposals will be required to deliver a high standard of environmental protection and enhancement to ensure that there are no unacceptable impacts on the built, historic and natural environment. The consideration of impacts will include effects on:
- Nature conservation (designated and non-designated sites/species);
- Sites of geological interest;
- Heritage assets (designated and non-designated) and their setting and other cultural assets;
- Landscape and townscape character;
- Best and most versatile agricultural land and soils;
- Air quality;
- Water quality and supply;
- Flood risk;
- Community amenity.
3.46. Minerals development has the potential to impact on both the built and natural environment and proposals will need to consider the full range of possible impacts. More detailed criteria that may apply to individual sites are set out within the specific Development Management policies in Chapter 5.
3.47. The County contains important habitats and species and it is essential these areas are maintained for future generations. The most important areas are protected by international, national or local designations. At present the County has 1 possible potential Special Protection Area, 1 Special Area of Conservation (SAC), 1 National Nature Reserve (NNR), 67 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), 64 Local Nature Reserves (LNR), over 1400 Local Wildlife Sites (LWS) (formally known as Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs) and around 130 Local Geological Sites (formally known as Regionally Important Geological Sites (RIGs).
3.48. Outside these designated sites, areas of habitat and populations of species of national conservation importance also exist; Habitats of Principal Importance for Conservation in England ('Habitats of Principal Importance') are those identified through Section 41 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (2006); similarly, this legislation also identifies Species of Principal Importance for Conservation in England ('Species of Principal Importance'). A number of additional species and habitats are also identified as local conservation priorities through their inclusion in the Nottinghamshire Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP).
3.49. It is therefore important to ensure that new minerals development is correctly managed and that no adverse impacts occur to designated sites, or priority habitats and species, as far as possible. Policy SP3 promotes a biodiversity-led restoration approach which seeks to maximise the biodiversity gains resulting from the restoration of mineral sites.
3.50. As well as those sites designated specifically for their nature conservation interest, the County also has130 Regionally Important Geological/ Geomorphological sites (RIGs). Some of these sites have come about as a result of mineral working and it is important that future minerals development conserves and, where possible, enhances such sites.
Heritage and cultural assets
3.51. Nottinghamshire is not only rich in minerals, but also has an extensive historic environment. Mineral extraction by its very nature can destroy archaeological sites and features, however, where sites are properly investigated and recorded it can provide major opportunities to understand the County's rich archaeological heritage and what they say about the past.
3.52. There are currently over 18,000 archaeological sites and historic features in Nottinghamshire registered on the Historic Environment Record, including:
- 3,700 listed buildings
- Over 150 scheduled monuments (including Creswell Crags which is on the UNESCO tentative list for inscription as a World Heritage Site)
- 19 Registered Parks and Gardens
- 1 Battlefield
- 174 Conservation Areas
3.53. Mineral extraction may affect the setting of heritage assets, be they buried remains, buildings, landscapes or places and extraction can cause change in the character of the landscape.
3.54. National policy states that the significance of the most important heritage assets and their settings should be protected, and that balancing the need for development against potential harm to heritage assets needs to be proportionate.
3.55. The landscape character of Nottinghamshire is complex and has been created from the interaction of natural and man-made influences, such as geology, soil, climate and land use. All landscapes hold value, with some having the potential to be improved and restored. Mineral working has the potential to change the landscape, but sensitive, high quality, restoration can also help to improve existing landscapes, especially those which may be of a lower quality.
Agricultural land and soil
3.56. Much of the County's land is in agricultural use. It is a vital natural and economic resource that needs to be protected from unsuitable development. Minerals can only be worked where they are found, and this can often involve large areas of agricultural land. This means that a balance has to be made between the need for the mineral and the protection of the agricultural land.
3.57. Agricultural land quality varies from place to place and is often heavily influenced by the underlying geology. The Agricultural Land Classification (ALC) system provides a method for assessing the quality of farmland to enable informed choices to be made about its future use within the planning system. The ALC system classifies land into five grades, with Grade 3 subdivided into Subgrades 3a and 3b. The best and most versatile land is defined as Grades 1, 2 and 3a. The majority of sand and gravel extraction in the Trent and Idle Valleys will result in the substantial permanent loss of agricultural land to wetland which along, with other development pressures, is causing a continuous erosion of the County's finite agricultural resources. However, appropriate management and restoration of mineral workings can secure the safeguarding of best and most versatile soils
3.58. Flooding from rivers is a natural process that plays an important role in shaping the natural environment. However, flooding threatens life and causes substantial damage to property and infrastructure. Although flooding cannot be wholly prevented, its impacts can be greatly reduced through good planning and management. Such planning will have to take account of the impacts of potentially more extreme flood events.
3.59. National policy requires all local plans to take flood risk into account and where possible to direct development to areas of lower risk. For some minerals, especially alluvial sand and gravel, this may not always be possible and development in the floodplain will be unavoidable, as has occurred on a large scale in the Trent and Idle Valleys. Priority should be given to those options that pose the least risk and/or provide opportunities to improve flood defences and flood storage capacity.
3.60. In order to appraise these risks, the County Council has undertaken a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA). The aim of the SFRA is to map all forms of flood risk and use this as an evidence base to locate new development wherever possible in low flood risk areas.
3.61. Major flood risks exist along the Trent Valley and its tributaries and these risks may be increased by climate change.
3.62. Future mineral extraction within high risk areas is unlikely to be avoidable but mineral restoration schemes can in some cases provide opportunities to reduce flood risks.
3.63. Nottinghamshire has an extensive physical network of transport, communications, water, energy, and waste infrastructure. Mineral working provides the raw materials to maintain much of this essential infrastructure, but it is important that the process of mineral extraction does not compromise the operation of existing or planned future infrastructure. When considering development proposals, consultation with the utility companies, rail operators and other network providers will be required to identify potential risks and to ensure appropriate safeguards and/or mitigation measures. This is likely to include the need for appropriate stand-offs from overhead or underground transmission cables, buried or surface pipelines and rail infrastructure.
3.64. The majority of minerals are transported by road due to the relatively short distances to local or regional markets. Minerals proposals therefore need to take into account the likely impacts upon both the local highway network and nearby communities arising from increased levels of traffic. Potential impacts could include congestion, road safety, noise, dust, and vehicle emissions. National policy requires all development that is likely to generate significant amounts of movement to be accompanied by a Transport Assessment or Transport Statement which should include details of how potential impacts will be minimised. However development should only be prevented or refused on transport grounds where the residual cumulative impacts are severe. Further details in relation to potential impacts on highway safety and vehicle movements are set out in Policy DM9.
3.65. Minerals extraction by its very nature can have significant effects on the existing environment and the amenity of those living nearby and visiting Nottinghamshire. It is therefore important that proposals for new minerals development take into account the potential issues to ensure that where possible they are avoided in the first instance. Potential impacts include noise, dust, increased levels of traffic and loss of landscape. Further details in relation to potential impacts on amenity are set out in Policy DM1.
3.66. National guidance seeks to ensure that the environmental effects of minerals extraction such as noise and dust should be controlled, mitigated or removed at source. This includes information on the proximity of minerals workings to communities, dust emissions and noise standards limits.
3.67. Minerals development by its very nature will at some point affect surface and or ground water resources. This could be as a result of pumping water from areas where mineral is worked below the water table or where mineral is extracted in the flood plain. These activities could have impacts on a much wider area than just the boundary of the proposal. It is therefore important that these impacts are avoided and reduced through good design and site management.
Environmental Impact Assessment
3.68. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regulations require an assessment of the likely significant environmental effects of some minerals development. EIA is undertaken by developers as a means of drawing together, in a systematic way, an assessment of the likely significant environmental effects of certain types of minerals proposals.
3.69. Where there is a possibility that a proposed mineral development will require an EIA, developers are advised to consult the County Council well in advance of a planning application, and formally request an opinion on whether an EIA is required and, if so, the scope of such an assessment.
3.70. Nottinghamshire has one Green Belt which is located in the southern part of the County which comprises of an area of more than 43,000 ha and covers land around Greater Nottingham, Nottingham City and rural village areas. The Green Belt was principally designated to prevent coalescence between Nottingham and Derby.
Policy SP6 – The Nottinghamshire Green Belt
Proposals for mineral extraction and associated development will be supported where this maintains the openness of the Green Belt and the purposes of including land within it.
Inappropriate development will not be approved except in very special circumstances. Very special circumstances will not exist unless the potential harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness, and any other harm, is clearly outweighed by other considerations.
Site restoration proposals should seek to enhance the beneficial use of the Green Belt.
3.71. Minerals can only be worked where they are found. The majority of south Nottinghamshire's remaining sand and gravel resource is found in the Trent Valley area within the Green Belt. However, this resource is also geographically well placed to serve existing and future markets in Nottingham and the surrounding urban area.
3.72. National policy states that minerals extraction is not inappropriate in the Green Belt where this preserves its openness and does not conflict with the purposes of including land within it. The purposes of the Green Belt as defined in national policy are:
- To check the unrestricted sprawl of large built up areas;
- To prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another;
- To assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
- To preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
- To assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land
3.73. Suitably designed, landscaped and restored mineral working is capable of being accommodated with the Green Belt where this does not conflict with national policy. Proposals will need to demonstrate that the location, scale and impacts of the development will not harm the openness of Green Belt or the purpose of including land within it. This could include consideration of the potential impacts of both the working area and any ancillary fixed or mobile plant and site infrastructure (e.g. site office, weighbridge, welfare facilities) and how the site will look once restored.
3.74. Development proposals that would harm the openness of the Green Belt are inappropriate and will only be approved where there are very special circumstances that would outweigh the potential harm to the Green Belt. Proposals for associated industrial development are likely to be inappropriate.
3.75. Following mineral extraction, sites should be restored to a use compatible with Green Belt objectives and seek to enhance its beneficial use. This could include opportunities for biodiversity gains, measures to enhance existing landscapes and visual amenity and to increase public access and opportunities for outdoor sport and recreation.
3.76. Minerals can only be worked where they are found. In the plan area, potential mineral working areas may be limited by landscape and environmental designations or existing settlements; there may also be competition from non-minerals development. The National Planning Policy Framework requires that known locations of specific minerals be safeguarded from needless sterilisation by non-minerals development (such as built development) and that where it is necessary for non-minerals development to take place, there should be prior extraction of the mineral where practicable and environmentally feasible.
Policy SP7: Minerals Safeguarding, Consultation Areas and Associated Minerals Infrastructure
- Economically important mineral resources and associated minerals infrastructurewill be safeguarded from needless sterilisation by non-minerals development through the designation of minerals safeguarding areas as identified on the Policies Map.
- Non-minerals development within minerals safeguarding areas will have to demonstrate that mineral resources of economic importance will not be needlessly sterilised as a result of the development the development and that the development would not pose a serious hindrance to future extraction in the vicinity.
- Where this cannot be demonstrated, and where there is a clear and demonstrable need for the non-minerals development, prior extraction will be sought where practicable.
- District and Borough Councils within Nottinghamshire will consult the County Council as Minerals Planning Authority on proposals for non-minerals development within the designated Mineral Consultation Area, as shown on the Policies Map.
The Minerals Planning Authority will resist inappropriate non-minerals development within the Minerals Consultation Areas.
3.77. The Minerals Safeguarding Areas (MSA) identify the mineral resources which are worthy of safeguarding and the Minerals Consultation Area (MCA) identify the areas within Nottinghamshire where the District and Borough authorities are required to consult the Mineral Planning Authority over non-minerals development. The NPPF encourages the prior extraction of minerals before alternative uses are permitted. In Nottinghamshire the safeguarding and consultation areas are identical (with the exception of Colwick Wharf) and as such one map has been produced and is included on the Minerals Policies Map.
3.78. The mineral safeguarding approach does not seek to predict how much mineral is likely to be needed over the plan period but safeguards the viable mineral resource. Viability will change over time. With increasing scarcity, resources that are currently considered non-viable will become increasingly viable. However, the entire mineral resource is not safeguarded; it is only the most meaningful and best current estimate of viable resources which has been safeguarded for future assessment and possible use. See Plan 4 below.
3.79. For the purposes of safeguarding, Nottinghamshire has eight distinct mineral resources. These are:
- Sand and gravel
- Sherwood Sandstone
- Alluvial Sand and Gravel;
- Limestone(including building stone);
- Industrial dolomite;
- Brick Clay;
- Surface Coal
3.80. Not every non-mineral development proposal within or close to a Minerals Safeguarding and Consultation Areas represents a risk to future minerals extraction. The main risks will arise from proposals to extend built up areas and new development in the open countryside, as such; the following categories of development are exempt from both consultation and safeguarding:
- Development which is in accordance with adopted District/Borough Local Plan allocations which took account of minerals sterilisation and where prior extraction is not feasible or appropriate;
- Temporary development;
- Householder planning applications (except for new dwellings);
- All applications for advertisements;
- Infill development;
- Reserved matters; and
- Prior notifications (telecoms, forestry, agriculture, demolition).
3.81. The British Geological Survey Resource Map (2013) provides information on the County's resources but excludes minerals that can only be worked by underground methods, such as deep mined coal, oil and gas and some gypsum deposits.
3.82. It is expected that the developer will carry out the necessary site investigations to prove the mineral resource. These will take into account factors such as the availability of the mineral, its relative scarcity, the timescale for the development going ahead, the possible extraction of the mineral and the viability of such extraction.
3.83. It is accepted that there may be circumstances where prior extraction may not be appropriate. In these cases the County Council would expect the developer to demonstrate that:
- The mineral concerned is no longer of any value or potential value; or
- There is an overriding need for the non-mineral development which outweighs the need for the mineral; or
- The proposed non-minerals development site is located on the urban fringe and mineral extraction would be inappropriate in this location; or
- The non-mineral development is of a minor nature as defined by the exemption criteria in paragraph 3.80.
3.84. Where prior extraction can be undertaken, an assessment should be completed to include an explanation of how this will be carried out as part of the overall development scheme.
3.85. Identification of minerals safeguarding areas does not provide a presumption in favour of working the mineral, and is not a guarantee that there is mineral present of viable quantity or quality. The Minerals Safeguarding and Consultation Areas are identified on the Minerals Policies Map and reflected in each Nottinghamshire District/Borough Adopted Local Plan Policies Maps.
3.86. The NPPF states that planning policies should safeguard:
- Existing, planned and potential rail heads, rail links to quarries, wharfage and associated storage, handling and processing facilities for the bulk transport by rail, sea or inland waterways of minerals, including recycled, secondary and marine dredged materials, and
- Existing, planned and potential sites for concrete batching, the manufacture of coated materials and other concrete products, and the handling, processing and distribution of recycled and secondary aggregate mineral.
Wharfs and railheads
3.87. Nottinghamshire does not currently contain any rail heads or rail links to quarries, however, three river wharfs are located within the County:
- Besthorpe – this wharf is directly linked to Besthorpe quarry and has been used to transfer sand and gravel by barge to South Yorkshire. It is not currently in use however it remains an important piece of infrastructure that could be used in the future.
- Colwick – this is a general-purpose wharf that has been used as a river dredging transfer facility. It has also been previously identified as a location to land sand and gravel from a previous quarry proposal at Shelford.
- Cromwell – this is a general-purpose wharf that has been used as a river dredging transfer facility that is accessed through a previously worked quarry.
3.88. All three wharfs are being safeguarded and these are set on the out are set out on the policies map.
Secondary Processing Facilities
3.89. Concrete batching plants, coated road stone and other minerals infrastructure provide materials to maintain both existing infrastructure and new developments. In Nottinghamshire these facilities are associated with concrete, mortar and asphalt plants which utilise sources of aggregates to make 'value added' products. The facilities are relatively small in nature and whilst some are located on existing mineral workings, other are stand-alone facilities on industrial estates in urban areas.
3.90. Due to the large number of these sites within the County and the majority of these being located on existing industrial estates, which are identified within District/Borough Local Plans, there is no indication that any individual plant is important in its own right. In addition, such plants are also physically relocatable and as such are considered non-strategic and will not be safeguarded by the County Council.
Plan 4: Minerals Safeguarding and Associated Minerals Infrastructure