Minerals Plan: Key Issues & Options

Derby & Derbyshire Minerals Core Strategy: Key Issues & Options

Chapter 3: A General Portrait of Derbyshire

3.1 We are developing a spatial portrait of Derbyshire, which is a description of the county in terms of its social, economic and environmental characteristics which are most relevant to mineral planning.  This will help us to focus on the characteristics and assets of Derbyshire which are most important in planning for future mineral development.  People who attended the stakeholder workshop in July 2009 have provided helpful input to this chapter. 

3.2 Diagram 1 gives a picture of the geography of Derbyshire.  It shows the National Park, a largely upland area which makes road transport difficult, and it shows the main roads and railways, river valleys, towns and other features.  Also, it shows the major places, such as Sheffield, Nottingham and Manchester, which are outside the county but are important markets for some of the County's minerals.


3.3 Derbyshire is located in central England, in the East Midlands Region and is easily   accessible to and from a number of neighbouring conurbations, including Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and Nottingham.  A large part of the mainly rural, north western area of the geographical county lies within the Peak District National Park, though outside the   area of this plan. Derbyshire has a wealth and diversity of important mineral resources. These bring benefits to the county, in terms of jobs and wealth but also potential disbenefits, particularly in terms of the possible environmental impact of extracting the minerals.  The legacy of large scale coal extraction in the east of the county left large areas with significant social, economic and environmental problems.  Regeneration is leading to the recovery of these areas, particularly in environmental terms, with initiatives such as the National Forest. 


3.4 Derbyshire (including Derby) has a population of around 995,000[1] with a demographic growth rate slightly above the national average.  The majority of the population lives in urban areas, with three quarters living in a series of small towns in the eastern half of the county.  The City of Derby, with a population of some 240,000, is the largest settlement and lies in the south of the county.  Chesterfield is the other major town in the county, lying in the north east, having a population of around 100,000. 

1. 2007 Population estimate, ONS [back]

Economic and Social Conditions

3.5 Derbyshire is a county of great variety, much of it rural in character, but it also contains a number of urban areas, which are based historically on coal mining and other heavy industries. Some of the older urban areas also contain significantly deprived populations,  especially in Derby and within the former coalfield areas.  Within these areas, there are seventeen "Super Output Areas" which are amongst the 10% most deprived areas in the country.  As in all areas, there are strong correlations between health and deprivation, so the most deprived areas of the county, in terms of health, are in areas  within Bolsover, Chesterfield, and North East Derbyshire Districts.  Elsewhere, the general health of 90.1% of Derbyshire's household population was defined as good or fairly good in the 2001 Census, slightly below the national rate of 91.2%. 

3.6 Much of the employment in the plan area is still dominated by manufacturing industries to a greater extent than the national average, but this is declining as employment in service industries increases.  In 2001, only 1% of employment in the county was in mining and quarrying, which was higher than the regional average of 0.7% and twice the national average. Employment in this sector was generally spread across the county, except in Derby where there are very few people employed in this sector.  There has been a very significant decline in employment levels in this sector over the last two decades, especially with the decline of the coal industry.  Unemployment rates at 3.2 % in the county overall are slightly below the national average but this masks significant variations in Chesterfield and smaller areas across the county, such as inner areas of Derby and parts of the former coalfield areas, which have significantly higher levels of unemployment.


3.7 Derbyshire generally has a good quality road transport network, which provides excellent links to other regions.  These roads include the M1, the A38, the A61 and the A50. In line with the rest of the country, traffic levels have significantly increased throughout the plan area over the last few decades, but at a slightly slower rate than the regional average.  61% of Derbyshire's boundary adjoins neighbouring regions and the county is greatly influenced by conurbations just outside its boundaries in terms of transport movements. There are relatively frequent short-distance movements of minerals across these boundaries, which are likely to continue in the future.

3.8 A significant issue in Derbyshire in relation to transport is the impact of heavy lorries, including mining and quarrying traffic, on local communities and other road users. In some areas, heavy goods vehicles can account for up to 25% of traffic. The Derbyshire Community Strategy seeks to reduce congestion on roads and to limit the environmental impacts of transport.  These aims are reflected in the priorities of the Derbyshire Local Transport Plan, which covers the period 2006-2011. 

3.9 There is a somewhat fragmented railway system in the county with five separate operators.  The majority of routes carry freight.

3.10 In terms of air quality, a number of areas suffer from air pollution, mainly associated with traffic and within the plan area, seven areas are covered by Air Quality Management Areas.  These are in Derby, Erewash and Bolsover and North East Derbyshire.

Natural Heritage

3.11 The county exhibits areas of ecologically important and high quality landscape, from the upland limestone scenery and gritstone moorlands in the north of the county, adjacent to the Peak District National Park, through the rolling pasturelands in the central swathe to the broad river valleys in the south.   The eastern and southern parts of the county exhibit some of the legacy of large-scale coal extraction. 

3.12 The character of Derbyshire's landscape has been assessed and each landscape type has been categorised, helping the assessment of proposals for development in terms of their impact on the landscape.

3.13 Much of the area of the county is farmland, almost all of which is classified as grade 3 and 4, with a small amount of grade 2 land to the south of Ashbourne.

3.14 The three main rivers in the county are the Trent, the Derwent and the Dove.  95% of the length of these rivers is classified as being good or fair chemical water quality and, as measured by biological quality, this rises to 97%.  All the rivers have important flood defence regimes, including functional flood plains, which need protecting, especially with the additional stress put on them from the possible effects of climate change.

3.15 Derbyshire contains significant areas of ecological importance, and supports valuable populations of national and local Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) priority species. Changes in farming practices over the past 50 years have, however, resulted in loss of hedgerows, wetland and floodplain habitats.

3.16 The Regional Biodiversity Strategy has shown three Biodiversity Conservation Areas (BCA) partially located in Derbyshire, excluding the Peak District National Park. The most   important regional resources for biodiversity are found at Sherwood near Bolsover, and   in the Derbyshire Peak Fringe and Lower Derwent, and in part of Charnwood in South Derbyshire.  However, two Biodiversity Enhancement Areas (BEAs) lie partially in the      county on its eastern boundary and in the National Forest in South Derbyshire. These are areas where the biodiversity heritage is poorest and most in need of enhancement.

3.17 Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are designated under the EC Habitats Directive and form part of the Natura 2000 Network of internationally important wildlife sites.  SACs in Derbyshire, outside the Peak District National Park, are:

  • Bee's Nest and Green Clay Pits on the south eastern edge of the Peak District;
  • Gang Mine; also on the south eastern edge of the Peak District; and
  • River Mease on the border of South Derbyshire and Leicestershire.

3.18 In terms of other designations for biodiversity, there are 87 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs); 1 National Nature Reserve (at Calke Abbey, 12km south of Derby managed by the National Trust); and around 1100 local wildlife sites and 101 Regionally Important Geological Sites, half of which lie within the Derbyshire Dales area.

Built Heritage

3.19 Derbyshire has a wealth of archaeological and historic features and sites with 9,500 entries on the Sites and Monuments Record; 1,476 Scheduled Ancient Monuments; 5,941 Listed Buildings and 486 Conservation Areas.  The Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, lying between Matlock Bath and Derby, is of international importance and is also a significant tourist attraction.  

Figure 1: Map of Derbyshire

(c) Crown Copyright. All rights reserved. 100023251 2010

Spatial Map of Derbyshire


Key Points from the General Portrait:

  • Derbyshire is located in Central England close to a number of large conurbations which contribute to demand for minerals

  • Derby and Chesterfield are the largest conurbations in the plan area.

  • A large part of the rural north western area of Derbyshire has much in common with the adjoining Peak District National Park 

  • Varied landscape with areas of high environmental and ecological quality

  • Wealth of archaeological and historic built features

  • Generally good road network in the east and south of the county, less good in the west and north west

  • There are potential environmental and social impacts from HGVs

  • Declining manufacturing and increasing service sectors

  • Wealth of nationally important mineral resources

  • Legacy of coal extraction but reclamation and regeneration projects have had a positive impact on the area.