Minerals Local Plan Issues and Options consultation
Setting the overall context for the Plan
To plan effectively for future minerals development, we need to have a good understanding of the current situation and what is likely to change over the next 19 years. As part of this, we are developing a 'spatial portrait' of Nottinghamshire, setting out the key environmental, geological, geographic, social and economic influences found in the County. We have included an early draft of the spatial portrait but if you feel that something else should be included we welcome your opinons.
Overview of the Plan area
Nottinghamshire is part of the East Midlands, but shares a boundary with South Yorkshire. Northern parts of Nottinghamshire therefore have significant employment, housing and business links with Sheffield and the metropolitan areas of Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster. The more urbanised west of the County is closely linked to neighbouring Derbyshire, with more rural eastern parts of the County having a similar character to neighbouring parts of Lincolnshire. In the south, Nottingham is the major regional centre with links to the neighbouring cities of Derby and Leicester. Consequently there is a significant overlap of housing areas, business and employment between these three cities (see Plan 1 below).
Around two thirds of the population live in, or around, Nottingham which is a major centre for employment and retailing. The remainder live in, or close to, the other main towns of Mansfield, Kirkby in Ashfield, Sutton in Ashfield, Hucknall, Worksop, Newark and Retford. Outside these urban areas, the rest of the County is largely rural with scattered small villages, farmland, woodland and commercial forestry.
The County's landscape is characterised by rich rolling farmlands to the south, with a central belt of mixed woodland and farmland, giving way to heathland in the north and open, flat agricultural landscapes dominated by the River Trent to the east. Nottinghamshire also supports a wide network of important sites for nature conservation, the most important focused within Sherwood Forest, near Edwinstowe. This includes a Special Area of Conservation and possible future Special Protection Area, both of which hold international status.
However, the overall quality of our natural environment has suffered in the past from industry and other development pressures and there has been a decline in biodiversity, with losses of ancient woodland, heathland, species-rich grassland, hedgerow and wetland habitats, as well as the species that these habitats support.
Road and rail links to the rest of the UK are generally good especially via the main north-south routes of the M1, A1 and direct rail links to London from Newark and Nottingham.
Nottinghamshire's economy generally compares well to the rest of the UK, and some of our urban areas are expected to be the focus of significant housing and commercial development in the future. However, there are wide inequalities in the rates of employment and income across the County, most notably in the former mining areas to the north and west. This is often reflected in similar levels of inequalities in health, education and skills.
Mansfield, Worksop and Newark are important centres for warehousing and distribution whilst service, technology and research based industries tend to cluster around Nottingham. The energy industry also has a major role with four power stations along the River Trent. Elsewhere, agriculture and forestry are no longer major employers but still make up much of the County's rural landscape, particularly to the south and east.
Flood risk particularly in the Trent Valley and along its tributaries presents planning and environmental issues which is a significant constraint to most forms of built development. The expected impact of future climate change could result in higher winter rainfall and more extreme flood events.
Plan 1 Spatial portrait of Nottinghamshire
Overview of Nottinghamshire's mineral resources and industry
Nottinghamshire is rich in minerals and most widely known for its past coal mining industry which has had a major impact on the social and economic development and environment of many parts of the County especially in the north and west. There are no longer any active collieries but the legacy of the coal industry is still very evident. The most visible reminders are the large spoil tips, many of which have now been restored. Most former colliery sites have since been redeveloped to provide a range of employment land.
Today, sand and gravel is the biggest extractive industry in the County. Most quarries work the river deposits found in the Trent and Idle Valleys although Sherwood Sandstone is also exploited. This activity has transformed large areas of the Trent and Idle Valleys into wetlands and in doing so has changed the landscape character of the area. Some former workings are now used for sports and recreation and others have become important wildlife habitats. As the County is quite poor in biodiversity, sand and gravel reclamation schemes have had a very significant role in redressing the balance.
Gypsum is another major minerals industry in Nottinghamshire and has been extensively mined in the south of the County and quarried between Newark and Kilvington. The associated plasterboard and plaster works that these mineral operations support are important local employers, although few people are actually directly employed in the extractive process itself.
Other minerals worked are brick clay, silica sand, building stone, aggregate limestone, and oil. Some of these minerals also support locally important associated industries such as brickworks. Building stone was worked much more extensively in the past and has contributed towards the traditional character of many villages and historic buildings. Today, extraction is limited to just one small quarry.
Nottinghamshire has potential mineral resources that have not been exploited to date but which could be in the future. These include industrial dolomite found in a small area in the north west of the County and coal bed methane and shale gas which are found across large parts of the County.
Q1 Do you think any further information should be included in the overview of the area?
Plan 2 Nottinghamshire's minerals resources
Key principles and creating a vision
The preparation of the new Minerals Local Plan does not start from a blank sheet of paper. In addition to considering the context identified in the spatial portrait, the Plan must take account of existing national and local policy as summarised below.
The overarching aim of the planning system as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development. Sustainable development is defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. There are three dimensions to sustainable development which the planning system needs to take into account:
- An economic role – to contribute to building a strong, responsive and competitive economy , by ensuring that sufficient land of the right type is available and in the correct locations to support growth and innovation
- A social role – to support strong, vibrant and healthy communities
- An environmental role – contributing to protecting and enhancing our natural, built and historic environment including improving biodiversity, prudent use of natural resources and adapting to climate change.
The NPPF and the Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) also sets out specific guidance for the sustainable use of minerals. The NPPF acknowledges that it is essential to ensure that there is a sufficient supply of minerals to support sustainable economic growth and our quality of life. However since minerals are a finite natural resource and can only be worked where they are found, it is important to make best use of them to secure their long term conservation. Minerals Planning Authorities through their Minerals Local Plan are required to plan for a steady and adequate supply of aggregates whilst ensuring future minerals development does not have unacceptable adverse impacts on the natural and historic environment or human health. This is will be achieved through the identification of site specific allocations and a range of planning policies against which planning applications can be assessed.
Local policy includes the Council Plan – 'Your Nottinghamshire, Your Future', the Nottinghamshire Local Transport Plan and the District Councils' Local Plans. The Plan must also consider mineral and other plans produced by adjacent authorities to ensure compatibility across administrative boundaries.
'Your Nottinghamshire, Your Future' sets out the strategic ambition for the future of Nottinghamshire and the Council for the next four years (2017-2021). The plan is focused on Nottinghamshire as a prosperous place where people want to live, work visit and invest. The document is focused around four vision statements;
- 'A great place to bring up your family';
- 'A great place to fulfil your ambition';
- 'A great place to enjoy your later life';
- 'A great place to start and grow your business'.
For the Minerals Local Plan this will mean upholding strong environmental principles that protect and enhance the environment, ensuring that the minerals industry contributes effectively to the local economy and engaging with and supporting communities affected by minerals development.
The new plan will be guided by an overall vision setting out how minerals will continue to be provided over the Plan period in the most sustainable way at the local level as well as supporting the delivery of national planning policies. The draft vision is:
"Minerals are a valuable natural resource and over the Plan period to 2036 will continue to be used as efficiently as possible across Nottinghamshire. This will include sustainable use of primary minerals as well as the promotion of recycled and secondary aggregates.
Within geological constraints, mineral development will be concentrated in locations that offer the greatest level of accessibility to the major markets and growth areas and to sustainable transport nodes to encourage sustainable patterns and modes of movement.
Nottinghamshire will continue to provide minerals to meet its share of local and national needs. Potential sites/quarries will be identified to support the economic, social and environmental benefits of sustainable growth. Mineral reserves will be identified and safeguarded against inappropriate development.
All mineral workings will contribute towards a greener Nottinghamshire by ensuring that the County's diverse environmental and historic assets are protected, maintained and enhanced through appropriate working, restoration and after-use. This will result in improvements to the built and natural environment, and contribute to landscape-scale biodiversity delivery; and the re-connection of ecological networks.
The quality of life and health of those living, working in, or visiting Nottinghamshire will be protected."
Q2 Do you agree with the draft vision? Are there other things we should include?
How will we deliver the vision?
For the Local Plan to work it must be deliverable. We need to have clear goals for what we want to achieve and be able to measure the effectiveness of our future policies. To do this there needs to be a clear set of strategic objectives and strategic policies.
Key strategic issues:
- Improving the sustainability of minerals development
Ensuring that primary minerals are worked in the most sustainable manner and the use of secondary and recycled aggregates is encouraged. Securing a spatial pattern of mineral development that efficiently delivers resources to markets within and outside Nottinghamshire.
- Providing a steady and adequate supply of minerals
Identifying a steady and adequate supply of minerals over the Plan period to assist in economic growth both locally and nationally.
- Minimise impacts on communities
Minimise the adverse impacts on Nottinghamshire's communities by protecting their quality of life and health from impacts such as traffic, visual impacts, noise and dust.
- Biodiversity led restoration of worked out quarries
Ensuring that all worked out quarries are restored to the highest standard and at the earliest opportunity through a biodiversity led approach and that the restoration proposals are addressed at an early stage of the application process.
- Safeguarding of minerals from unnecessary sterilisation
To protect key mineral resources from the unnecessary sterilisation by other forms of development, and safeguard existing minerals infrastructure to ensure a steady and adequate supply of minerals in the future.
Q3 Are the above strategic issues appropriate? Are there others we should consider?