Towards a Minerals Local Plan for Derbyshire and Derby

Towards a Vision and Objectives

Key Issues and Elements of the Vision and Objectives

4.1       National planning policy such as the NPPF sets out the need for minerals local plans to reflect and respond to certain issues. Whilst many issues may be common to most parts of the country, plans should have regard to the particular circumstances of their individual areas in order to meet the development needs of that area whilst protecting their individual characteristics and features. In order to help the development of a new vision and objectives which properly reflects the circumstances of the Plan area and to help inform responses to this consultation, this paper sets out below a number of key issues and factors which are particularly relevant to mineral development in this area.

4.2       Type and Quantity of Minerals Available in the Plan Area

The Plan area contains a variety of different mineral resources, some of which are present in substantial quantities, making it one of the most important areas in the Country for mineral production. The varied nature of these minerals and how they are contained in the ground requires the use of a number of different extraction methods which in turn impact differently on the environment and local communities. These differences also lead to variations in the way that mineral sites can be and are restored. In combination, these factors will influence the way the Plan area will look and function in minerals terms by the end of the Plan period. Details of the different minerals found in the area, the methods of extraction which are used and the implications for the environment, economy and social characteristics of the area can be obtained from the respective support papers published as part of this consultation exercise.

4.3       The Need for Minerals

Modern society is highly dependent on the continued availability of mineral resources and the Plan area makes a significant contribution to the mineral requirements of the country. All of the mineral resources which are currently extracted from sites in the Plan area are important to meeting those needs and are likely to remain so in the long-term. For some of these minerals, alternative sources elsewhere in the country are limited and are becoming depleted which is likely to increase the pressure for minerals from this area.  

The scale of future mineral demand and extraction will depend upon a number of factors. Current forecasts predict a regular growth in the population of the Plan area and throughout the UK during the Plan period, which will probably increase the demand for minerals. In contrast, the development of new technologies and new ways of utilising and reusing the minerals we do extract may lead to efficiencies which could reduce the amount of new mineral required. Some of the demand for specialist minerals, (e.g. vein minerals) is increasingly being met from imported sources, although the value/weight ratio of minerals such as sand and gravel restricts the economics of importation. Such minerals are extracted, transported and used within relatively small catchment areas. It is therefore expected that there will continue to be a demonstrable need for some of the minerals found in the Plan area over the Plan period.

4.4       Where Minerals are Located

Details of the location of the main mineral resources in the Plan area can be found in Towards a Spatial Portrait: An Overview of Derbyshire and Derby, January 2015, particularly by reference to Diagram 3. This demonstrates that mineral resources are widespread across the Plan area. The issue which is of relevance to the Vision and Objectives is that the extraction of these resources is not confined to a small part of the Plan area. Former or current mineral sites can be found across the length and breadth of Derbyshire and future development could affect most of the Plan area either directly or indirectly. In addition, many of these resources are often found in areas that may be sensitive to mineral development because they are in the more attractive parts of the Plan area, are close to major rivers or close to the towns and villages where people live and work. The location of the mineral resources also influences the ways by which extraction sites can be restored.

4.5       Where Will They Be Used

All mineral has to be transported from the extraction site to the place where it is to be used. There may be additional journeys where the raw material is taken to an intermediary facility for processing. Low-value high-bulk minerals such as sand and gravel are costly to transport and are used relatively close to the extraction site. High value minerals such as vein minerals and industrial limestone may be transported across the country and beyond. The relationship of origin and destination and how the mineral will be transported are key issues to be addressed in the new Plan.

4.6       Relationship With the Peak District National Park

Derbyshire County Council and Derby City Council have been co-operating with the Peak District National Park Authority about measures to reduce the volume of mineral extracted from within the Park area in order to help preserve its special characteristics. Any reduction in mineral extraction from the Peak Park however, would have implications for the volume of mineral which has to be obtained from elsewhere, particularly in the Plan area. Decisions on this issue will influence the Vision and Objectives of the new Plan.

4.7       Environmental Impacts of Mineral Extraction

Extracting minerals from the ground, either by surface or underground methods, can, if not appropriately mitigated, have adverse impacts on the area in which the extraction site is situated. In some cases this impact may be relatively temporary (where original ground levels are restored) but for some developments, such as large limestone quarries, the change will be permanent. The need to balance the provision of an adequate supply of minerals whilst preventing unacceptable environmental impacts is a major issue to be addressed by the Vision and Objectives.

4.8       Economic Impacts of Mineral Extraction

Mineral extraction activity provides employment opportunities in the local area and generally contributes to the local, regional and national economies. The associated supply infrastructure provides the raw materials required to deliver further economic growth. Conversely, inappropriate and unmitigated mineral development could adversely affect a local economy to the point where it outweighs the benefits of the mineral that has been obtained. The need to retain and grow the economic benefits of mineral development is a key issue for the new Plan.

4.9       Social Impacts of Mineral Extraction

Mineral development provides direct employment opportunities and indirect benefits via the provision of the raw materials we all use day to day, but the loss of land and facilities associated with it and any adverse impacts on amenity can be detrimental to the social fabric of an area. Many of the potential adverse impacts can be avoided through the implementation of appropriate mitigation measures. In contrast, the loss of long-established minerals sites and the loss of jobs and income they provided and supported can adversely affect the social conditions of a local community. The respective scale of benefits and disbenefits of mineral development to the social fabric of the Plan area is a key issue for the new Plan.

4.10     Cumulative Impacts

The minerals industry is a long-established feature of the Plan area. Minerals have been worked on a small scale since the Roman times and over the last 150 years or so this has developed into a major industry involving many sites. Some sites ceased operation and were never properly restored whilst others were left to naturally regenerate and have been partially assimilated but the physical footprint is still evident in the landscape.

Deep coal mining has left a particular legacy which is still evident despite the cessation of that industry. Although some former colliery sites have been remediated and restored, examples of large colliery tips and areas of degraded land still remain. The raw materials from coal mines and other mineral sites also enabled the development of other, often large-scale industries such as engineering and manufacturing. The presence and impacts of those sites and industries over time has given rise to cumulative impacts over and above those generated by individual sites. Further information explaining why cumulative impacts are such an important issue in Derbyshire and Derby is available in the Cumulative Impacts Supporting Paper, January 2015. The reconciliation of further mineral development, whilst not adding to the cumulative impacts experienced in some areas, is a major issue to be addressed in the Vision and Objectives.

4.11     Restoration, Aftercare and After-use

It is evident from the responses to earlier consultation exercises that the need to ensure that sites are properly restored and managed after mineral extraction has ceased is a major priority for the new Plan. The form of restoration that can be achieved varies from site to site depending on the type of mineral and extraction method, scale of the site, the ability to restore to original ground levels and other local circumstances. How the Vision and Objectives will set the framework for delivering the highest standards that can be achieved for all mineral sites is a major issue for the new plan. 

4.12     Sustainability

The National Planning Policy Framework has established the need for the planning system to deliver sustainable development, including sustainable minerals development. This will therefore be one of the most important elements of the Vision and Objectives of the new Plan.  

4.13     Climate Change

All development, however small, can contribute towards climate change. Understanding how to provide for mineral development whilst avoiding and negating further adverse climate changes and incorporating resilience will influence the Vision and Objectives of the Plan.