Towards a Minerals Local Plan for Derbyshire and Derby

Towards a Strategy for Brick Clay and Fireclay

Next Steps

  1. Next Steps

6.1     Since the publication of the Issues and Options Consultation, in 2010, the NPPF and NPPG have been introduced; it is important, therefore, to revisit the issues and options surrounding the provision of brick clay and fireclay in the Plan in the light of this new policy and guidance. In particular, we will need to consider the extent to which the Issues and Options Consultation and the responses to it remain helpful in the development of a new strategy for brick and fireclay provision and take on board any additional evidence that we have collected since 2010.

6.2     The Issues and Options Consultation included a ‘call for sites’ from any developer wishing to promote a site for mineral development over the plan period. None came forward at that time but recently, in December 2014, a site has been put forward as an extension to Mouselow Quarry.

6.3     Since 2010 there have been no permissions granted for new brick clay sites, however, permission was granted in December 2014 to extend the time limit for working at Mouselow Quarry from 2019 to 2042. Permission was granted in 2011 for the extraction of fireclay in association with opencast coal at Lodge House Farm. Brick clay and fireclay production from the Plan area over the past three years has varied. Details of production and permitted reserves are set out in the Table: Production and permitted reserves at clay and shale quarries within the Plan area.

6.4     Making provision for an adequate and steady supply of brick clay and fireclay – developing the emerging approach

          The NPPF requires us to plan for an adequate and steady supply of industrial minerals to meet the need for their use in industrial and manufacturing processes. It doesn’t set out how much brick clay and fireclay should be provided but it requires the MPA to assess the likely demand and make provision to ensure that an adequate and steady supply of the mineral can be maintained.

          This Paper has previously established that, having regard to, the level of permitted reserves and anticipated production rates at the actively working brick clay sites within the Plan area i.e. Mouselow and Waingroves, there are sufficient reserves to maintain the supply of brick clay throughout the Plan period. The contribution that the stockpiled reserves at the Foxlow Tip site will make towards the supply of brick clay is less clear at this stage, for the reasons previously set out. Lodge House Farm will make a small contribution to the supply of fireclay over the Plan period.

          Based on the level of permitted reserves and estimated future production rates at active brick clay sites the Plan can meet the anticipated demand for brick clay to 2030. There are, however, other matters and policy requirements that need to be taken into account in developing an approach to ensure that an adequate and steady supply of brick and fireclay can be maintained:

  • It is important to provide flexibility to ensure that supplies of brick clay can be maintained at all times in order to meet the needs of consumers, principally brickworks, by allowing new working to take place if the demand increases.
  • Provision should be made to enable a stock of permitted reserves of at least 25 years to be maintained to support the level of investment required to develop or maintain new or existing plant.
  • Account needs to be taken of the trend for fewer large scale automated factories for brick and clay product production which require different sources of clay to facilitate blending.
  • Geological variations within a quarry can often impact on the scale of the suitable material, requiring the need for additional reserves to maintain production.
  • The above trend has led to the situation where clay resources within the Plan area are called upon to supply plants in adjoining MPAs. These cross border movements will need to be taken into account in any strategy to ensure that supplies can be maintained.
  • The production of fireclay is only viable when worked in association with surface coal mining and even then only a small proportion of sites (less than 20%)[1] will have associated fireclay recovery. It is impossible therefore to quantify the contribution that fireclay will make towards supplying raw material for brick making and clay product manufacture over the plan period; however its working should be encouraged.

          As well as examining the scale of provision that needs to be made to ensure an adequate supply of brick clay and fireclay, the Plan also needs to consider how and where that provision should be made. NPPG sets out advice on this matter stating that priority should be given to the identification of specific sites for working followed by preferred areas and areas of search.  Where this approach is not possible it may be appropriate for MPAs to rely largely on policies which set out criteria against which planning applications will be assessed.

          Of the existing quarries with permitted clay and shale reserves one operator has indicated the need for additional reserves of high quality shale to maintain production throughout the Plan period and has identified an area of known economically viable resources, which they are promoting as a site suitable for working. No other sites have been put forward for working over the Plan period. Whilst the extent of the clay and shale resource is known, information about the scale and commercial viability of the remaining resource is not and therefore, the MPA has no further information at this time that would enable the identification of sites, preferred areas or areas of search from which any other future provision of brick clay or fireclay could be made.

6.5     Issue 1: Brick Clay – Options for making provision for an adequate and steady supply of brick clay

          Having regard to all of the issues above, a number of Options have been put forward to ensure the supply of brick clay over the Plan period. They are set out below, together with a brief commentary.

          Option 1: Make provision through existing permitted reserves and allocations

          The Plan could make provision for brick clay through existing permitted reserves together with the identification (allocation) of specific areas of land for the future working of brick clay during the Plan period. The allocation of land in a local plan is acceptance, in principle, that a site is suitable for working subject to satisfying detailed planning considerations. One site, at Mouselow Quarry, has been promoted by operators for brick clay working, however no other sites have been put forward for working.

          This option is appropriate where viable resources are known and operators/ landowners are supportive of minerals development and actively promote sites for development. Allocations provide greater clarity and certainty of delivery over the Plan period for the industry which is important in terms of the level of investment required particularly for brick kilns. They would also provide clarity to local communities about the nature, scale and location of clay working that they can expect over the Plan period. However, only one site has been promoted for allocation over the plan period and the MPA has insufficient information about the scale and commercial viability of the remaining resource that would enable the identification of sites, preferred areas or areas of search from which any other future provision of brick clay or fireclay could be made. This option, in isolation, therefore would not provide sufficient flexibility to meet any unforseen increased demand for additional reserves of brick clay to be worked during the Plan period.

          Option 2: Make provision through existing permitted reserves and a criteria based policy

          The Plan could make provision for the supply of brick clay through existing permitted reserves together with a policy that will set out the criteria, against which planning applications will be assessed, to allow for the working of additional brick clay reserves to meet both known and unforseen demand over the Plan period.

          Whilst this option would provide flexibility to meet both known and unforseen needs for new working it would not provide the same clarity and certainty of delivery that identifying specific areas of land would bring for both, companies and local communities. Additionally, it would not strictly follow the NPPG which advises that when planning for the supply of minerals, allocations should be favoured over preferred areas and areas of search, where practicable.

          Option 3: Make provision through existing permitted reserves and allocations and a criteria based policy

          The Plan could make provision for the supply of brick clay through existing permitted reserves together with a combination of the above two options. Where the need for additional reserves is established at the start of the Plan period, specific areas of land could be allocated where, in principle, working would be acceptable. Where the need for additional reserves cannot be anticipated at the start of the Plan period a criteria based policy could be included to allow for additional reserves to be worked to meet those needs.

          This Option would provide both flexibility to meet unforseen needs and the clarity and certainty of supply through the allocation of sites where we know there is an identified need for additional reserves and known economically viable resources exist and operators/landowners are supportive and actively promoting minerals development.

6.6     Issue 2: A criteria based policy – emerging approach

          Both Options 2 and 3 above would require a criteria based policy to implement the approach. Set out below are the components that a policy may need to include to ensure the provision of an adequate and steady supply of brick clay. All proposals will need to have regard to the emerging strategic sustainability principles which we have set out in a separate Paper. More information can be found in the following Paper:

Towards Strategic Sustainability Principles – November, 2014

 

          The text in the box sets out the components that the emerging approach will need to include:

6.7     Issue 3: Specific identification (allocation) of land for brick clay working

          Options 1 and 3 above would involve the specific allocation of sites for working where it is established that there is an identified need for additional reserves. The operator of Mouselow Quarry has indicated that additional reserves of high quality brick making shale will be required during the Plan period and is therefore promoting a small extension to the area of working within the site. Further details of the promoted site are set out at the Appendix.

6.8     Issue 4: The assessment of sites for allocation in the Plan

          For a site to be identified for working in the Plan sufficient information would be required to enable a proper evaluation of the promoted site. This information would need to be able to demonstrate that any potential site is justified in terms of its need to be worked, is deliverable and could be worked sustainably, without causing unacceptable adverse impacts on the environment and communities. If Option 1 or 3 above emerges as the preferred approach for ensuring the supply of brick clay further engagement will be carried out on the methodology that will be used to assess the acceptability of promoted sites for allocation.

6.9     Issue 5: Making provision for the stockpiling of brick clay

          The stockpiling of clay to enable weathering to take place is a particular feature of clay working which impacts both on the speedy restoration of sites and on the NPPF requirement that land should be worked and reclaimed at the earliest opportunity. This matter also raises the issue of the best location for stockpiling i.e. at the excavation site or at the brickworks/ clay products manufacturing site where the material is used, or elsewhere. Responses to the Issues and Options Consultation 2010, which indicated a preference for stockpiling at brickworks/ clay products manufacturing site, suggested that this option was not always desirable or practicable. This point has been looked at in the emerging approach for stockpiling set out below. The most appropriate location for stockpiling needs to be considered on an individual basis having regard to factors at the extraction, brickworks/clay products manufacturing site or a stocking site elsewhere, such as, size of site, topography, surrounding land uses, transport etc. Planning applications will need to include evidence to support the proposed location for stockpiling.

          Where stockpiles are proposed to be located at the excavation site they should be progressively restored as material is removed in order to minimise their impact.

Making provision for the stockpiling of brick clay – emerging approach

Planning proposals will need to include evidence to support the proposed location for stockpiling brick clay. This evidence should have regard to matters such as such as, size of site, topography, surrounding land uses, transport etc.

Where proposals include the location of stockpiles at the excavation site provision should be made for their progressive restoration as material is removed in order to minimise their impact.

6.10   Issue 6: Fireclay – Options for making provision for an adequate and steady supply of fireclay

          The NPPF recognises the importance of the fireclay resource and encourages its extraction. Given that fireclay working is not normally commercially viable on its own and almost all production (except that recovered from existing stockpiles) is as a co- or by-product of coal mining, the feasibility of working any fireclay resources, in association with coal, will need to be taken into account as part of the emerging policy approach for coal working. Due to the need for clay stockpiling, a particular issue is the practicality of working fireclay within the short extraction and time limits for the restoration of surface coal mining schemes. The benefit of working fireclay resources, which might otherwise be lost if simply backfilled as part of working and restoration, will need be taken into account in determining the overall acceptability of proposals for new coal working.  

6.11   Safeguarding

          Since minerals are a finite resource it is important to ensure that non-mineral development does not needlessly prevent the extraction of known mineral resources of local and national importance. One way of achieving this is through the inclusion of resources within Mineral Safeguarding Areas. Whilst clay, shale and mudstones are widespread only limited deposits have sufficient qualities to make them economically important for the manufacture of bricks and clay products. In preparing the Minerals Local Plan we will need to assess which clay resources should be safeguarded.

6.12   Issue 7: Making provision for and adequate and steady supply of clay and shale used for other purposes

          Clay and shale can also be used for engineering and environmental purposes i.e. capping and lining areas of landfill or lining water bodies and for general constructional purposes (fill).  Generally, the  extensive clay and shale deposits within the Plan area can be used to source these uses (although it is recognised that sometimes the specialist properties of brick clay or fireclay may be required for some construction purposes). Clay and shale for these purposes is often worked incidentally both in association with the extraction of other minerals and prior to non-mineral development or as borrow pits in association with major construction projects. The working of clay for such purposes, therefore, could be dealt with by other policies in the Plan covering borrow pits, prior extraction and incidental working of clay in association with other minerals.

[1] British Geological Survey, Mineral Planning Factsheet, Fireclay,2006