Towards a Minerals Local Plan for Derbyshire and Derby

Towards a Strategy for the River Valleys

Introduction

1       Introduction

1.1    In the past, sand and gravel workings in the Plan Area have been restored to after-uses with an approach that has concentrated on the requirements of the specific site rather than also considering its context within the wider surrounding landscape of the river corridor.  As sand and gravel workings have developed over a wider area, this approach has resulted in a landscape which has become progressively fragmented; the overall environmental and cultural integrity of the landscape is gradually being altered.

1.2    This piecemeal approach to the restoration of mineral workings triggered the need to take a different approach in the emerging Minerals Local Plan.  This alternative approach seeks to develop a long term strategy for the restoration of sand and gravel workings in the Trent, Derwent and Lower Dove Valleys, indicating what the valleys should look like in the future and how the restoration of individual sites would fit into this.  It is expected that this would promote a more strategic and coordinated landscape scale approach to minerals planning that involves developing an overarching strategy for the working and restoration of sites in the Trent valley.  It would seek to contribute to the delivery of a new, connected and more attractive, landscape, improving life for existing communities, where people want to come to live, with new economic and recreational opportunities, and which is rich in history and wildlife and attracts visitors to the area. 

1.3    This has developed and evolved from what was initially discussed in the early stages of the preparation of the Plan, as a strategy for guiding the future restoration of mineral workings, into one which, by determining the overall integrity and sensitivity of the landscape, can also guide the identification of sites for future mineral working.  As a result, the strategy will now help to identify which areas could be worked and how we would expect these areas to be restored, and how already restored sites would fit into and connect with this overall pattern.

1.4    It has also become a wider strategic issue, as neighbouring authorities, including Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire County Councils, have expressed their intent to extend the approach to the areas of the Trent and Dove Valleys which lie within their jurisdiction.  It is expected, therefore, that the approach will cover an area which includes the majority of the Trent Valley and its main tributaries.  The approach has also gained the backing of the Local Nature Partnership (LNP), which strengthened further the strategic nature of the Trent Valley project.  The wider Vision (into which this Strategy will fit) for the Trent Valley area has been identified as a Core Project for the LNP.

1.5    The strategy would help to maintain and encourage a thriving minerals industry, providing it with a greater degree of certainty regarding the available mineral resource and clarity about the physical constraints that exist to mineral working in the valleys.

1.6    It may also encourage mineral operators to revisit former extraction areas (possibly restored) to undertake additional work that might further benefit the broad long term objective for the valleys, for example connecting existing water bodies or providing a link to the river.