Towards a Minerals Local Plan for Derbyshire and Derby

Towards a Strategy for the Restoration and After Care of Former Mineral Workings

National Policy Considerations

  • National Planning Policy Considerations

 

2.1       The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out that policies should be included in minerals local plans to ensure that worked land is reclaimed at the earliest opportunity, taking account of aviation safety, and that high quality restoration and aftercare of mineral sites takes place, including for agriculture (safeguarding the long-term potential of best and most versatile agricultural land and conserving soil resources), geodiversity, biodiversity, native woodland, the historic environment and recreation.

2.2       The NPPF also advises that the planning system should protect and enhance our valued landscapes and the natural environment by minimising impacts on biodiversity and providing net gains in biodiversity, contributing to the Government’s commitment to halt the overall decline in biodiversity (para 109), and that planning policies should promote the preservation, restoration and re-creation of priority habitats at a landscape scale (para 117). When determining applications, planning authorities should encourage opportunities to incorporate biodiversity (para 118).

2.3       National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) sets out that responsibility for the restoration and aftercare of mineral sites, including financial responsibility, lies with the minerals operator and, in the case of default, with the landowner. It goes on to state that there are many potential uses of land once mineral extraction is complete. These include:

  • creation of new habitats and biodiversity;
  • use for agriculture;
  • forestry;
  • recreational activities;
  • waste management, including waste storage; and
  • the built environment, such as residential, industrial or retail, where appropriate.2.5       Paragraph 38 of NPPG highlights a number of key stages involved in the restoration and aftercare of mineral sites.
  • 2.4       Some former mineral sites may also be restored as a landfill facility using suitable imported waste materials as an intermediate stage in restoration, prior to the site being restored fully to an appropriate after-use.
  1. Stripping of soils and soil-making material and either their storage or their direct replacement (i.e. restoration) on another part of the site;
  2. Storage and replacement of overburden;
  3. Achieving landscape and landform objectives for the site, including filling operations if required, following mineral extraction;
  4. Restoration, including soil placement, relief of compaction and provision of surface features;
  5. Aftercare to ensure that following restoration the land is brought up to the required standard for its intended after use.
  6. 2.6       Paragraph 40 of the NPPG sets out the level of detail that should be submitted on restoration and aftercare at the planning application stage. To some extent it will depend on the individual circumstances at each site including the expected duration of operations. The information must be able to demonstrate that the overall objectives of the restoration scheme are practically achievable and it would normally include:
  • an overall restoration strategy, identifying the proposed after use of the site;
  • information about soil resources and hydrology, and how the topsoil/subsoil/overburden/soil making materials are to be handled whilst extraction is taking place;
  • where land is agricultural land, an assessment of the agricultural land classification grade; and
  • landscape strategy.2.8       When the Mineral Planning Authority considers that a review is necessary, it will take the opportunity to reconsider the restoration scheme for the site, for example, by improving public rights of way, biodiversity enhancements, creation of farmland, etc. Where land is to be used for biodiversity enhancements, it is appropriate that habitat development reflects and respects the surrounding landscape.  
  • 2.9       The Government’s Natural Environment White Paper (2011) places the value of nature at the heart of the planning system, ensuring that the environment is enhanced and considered alongside economic growth and social wellbeing.
  • 2.7       The 1995 Environment Act gave Mineral Planning Authorities the opportunity to review existing mineral extraction planning conditions for long established mineral sites and to modify them to reflect modern aspirations and current policy.