Towards a Minerals Local Plan for Derbyshire and Derby

Towards a Restoration Strategy for Carboniferous Limestone Quarries

Next Steps

8          Next Steps

8.1       Since the publication of the Issues and Options Report 2010, the NPPF (2012) and NPPG (2014) have been published; it is important to revisit the concept of preparing a strategy for the A515 limestone quarries in light of this new policy and guidance. In particular, it is necessary to consider the extent to which the Issues and Options Report and the responses to it remain helpful in the development of the strategy and take on board any additional evidence that we have collected since 2010, including the findings of the Interim Sustainability Appraisal.

 

8.2       The NPPF reaffirms general restoration principles by requiring MPAs, in their local plans, to put in place policies to ensure that worked land is reclaimed at the earliest opportunity and that high quality restoration and aftercare of mineral sites takes place. The NPPG also advises MPAs to include policies to ensure that the most appropriate form of restoration takes place to facilitate different potential after-uses.

8.3       The restoration and after-use of a site will depend on the type of mineral, nature of extraction, availability of fill material, as well as the general characteristics and local planning policies for the area. The NPPF seeks to enhance valued landscapes and sets out that mineral restoration schemes should be informed by the wider landscape character, ensuring that schemes are compatible with the surrounding landscape. The NPPF requires MPAs to plan for biodiversity at a landscape scale. The restoration of mineral workings can offer important opportunities for the establishment or re-establishment of priority habitats and consequently provide net gains in biodiversity, particularly through linking fragmented areas of habitat types, delivering local ecological networks across the wider landscape.

8.4       Extending the remit of the Strategy to include all Carboniferous Limestone Quarries

In view of the Government’s policy support for the concept of strategic restoration and taking into account previous support shown for the approach of having a restoration strategy for the A515 quarries and the favourable assessment shown in the Interim Sustainability Appraisal, the Councils are now considering whether this Strategy should be extended to encompass all hard rock quarries, lying within the Carboniferous Limestone. The attached Map shows the location of existing permitted active and inactive limestone quarries at 2015.

8.5       The reasons for extending the approach are as follows. Many of the hard rock limestone quarries:

  • are large scale and long-term, consequently exerting significant environmental impacts,
  • lie in sensitive locations close to the Peak District National Park and in some cases have adjoining boundaries,
  • lie close to each other and in some cases have contiguous boundaries and therefore would benefit particularly from co-ordinated restoration schemes,
  • were granted planning permission before the advent of the modern planning system and, whilst all existing operational sites have modern conditions they remain subject to future periodic reviews,
  • are ‘dormant’ or ‘inactive’ and therefore future working and restoration could be informed by a strategy

8.6       The Strategy would set out a framework of strategic principles that would deliver a preferred pattern of restoration for all hard rock quarries within the Carboniferous Limestone and would provide consistent advice to all operators across the White Peak landscape within the Plan area.

8.7       Why restrict the Strategy to Carboniferous Hard Rock Quarries?

There are other hard rock quarries lying with the Plan area such as sandstone quarries used mainly for building stone, however these tend to be much smaller in scale, worked more infrequently and consequently are less intrusive. Similarly, there are hard rock quarries lying on the Permian Limestone, in the east of the County, but the colour of the stone, scale of working and the character of the surrounding landscape tends to make them less intrusive and easier to restore.

Issue 1: What area should the Strategy cover?

8.8       On the basis of there being continued support for a separate restoration strategy for hard rock quarries we need to agree the area that the strategy will cover. Option 1 would enable a consistent continuation of the earlier work undertaken for the four quarries along A515 but this would obviously be apply the established principles to a restricted area only. For the reasons indicated above there would be benefits from applying the restoration principles more consistently to similar quarries across a wider area as in Option 2. Option 3 would extend this coverage further to apply to all hard rock quarries in the Plan area but, as indicated above, the characteristics of the hard rock quarries in the eastern part of the Plan area indicate that restoration of those site raises different issues and that they may benefit from being assessed on a site by site basis.  

Issue 1: What area should the Strategy cover?

Option 1

Prepare the Strategy to apply to the A515 quarries only

Option 2

Prepare the Strategy to apply to all of the hard rock quarries within the Carboniferous Limestone

Option 3

Prepare the Strategy to apply to all hard rock quarries within the Plan area?

Issue 1: Which area do you think the restoration Strategy should cover? Please give reasons for your answer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Issue 2: What are the issues that affect the restoration of hard rock Carboniferous Limestone quarries?

8.9       As a next stage, it is important to think about what the issues are that particularly affect the restoration of hard rock quarries located on the Carboniferous Limestone resource to help inform the formulation of the underlying restoration principles. Set out below are our initial thoughts on these:

  • The scale of the quarries in terms of surface area and depth of extraction prevents infilling to original ground levels and landforms. New landforms and levels therefore impose restoration constraints.
  • The quarries are often very long-term developments (i.e. +25 years), with the current quarry form having evolved over many years, but with full restoration often not due for several decades more.
  • Workings often involve simultaneous extraction from different parts of the quarry to obtain appropriate blending so affecting timing and ability for phased restoration.
  • The quarries are often located in areas of high landscape value, including areas bordering the Peak District National Park and contrasting distinctly with the established landscape character of the area.
  • The quarries are often liable to water infiltration affecting the scope of restoration options.
  • The high level of connectivity of the water environment in limestone areas means that impacts of quarrying in one area could affect a much wider area. Some of the most ecologically rich, internationally important biodiversity sites are dependent on existing stream flows, seepages and springs, which can be threatened by quarrying if flows are intercepted or diverted. These ecological designations and the need to protect such sites may define or curtail site working in some areas.
  • The quarries often lack sufficient soils to achieve traditional restoration through infilling.

Issue 2: Do you agree with the issues that we have identified that affect the restoration of hard rock Carboniferous Limestone quarries? Are there any others that should be included? Please give reasons for your answer.

Issue 2: What are the issues that affect the restoration of hard rock Carboniferous Limestone quarries?

The list above sets out the main issues that need to be taken into account in developing a Strategy for restoring hard rock quarries on the Carboniferous Limestone.

 

Issue 3: Draft Principles for the restoration of hard rock quarries

8.10     Irrespective of the area to which the Strategy will apply we need to develop a framework of strategic principles that will address the issues raised and deliver a co-ordinated approach to restoration. These principles will need to be taken into account by operators in preparing proposals for new developments or those affecting existing quarries. Set out below are some initial thoughts on the range of principles that will need to be developed to inform the Strategy.

  • The design of quarry development proposals should inform and take into account the requirements for progressive restoration.
  • Waste placement needs to be carefully planned to avoid sterilisation of mineral resource, minimise double handling of material where possible, or lead to the imposition of artificial constraints to restoration
  • Development should seek to achieve the highest possible standard of restoration to minimise the long-term impacts of the site regardless of the level of that impact.
  • Restoration proposals should be based around a clear and comprehensive restoration strategy, and seek to maximise opportunities for phased and progressive restoration.
  • The form of restoration should reflect the character of the White Peak landscape in which the quarry is located taking into account:
  • The high landscape value and distinctive character of the area
  • The proximity to the Peak District National Park
  • Restoration proposals should aim to reduce the visual footprint of the quarry and assimilate it into the surrounding landscape.
  • Restoration proposals should incorporate the techniques most appropriate to the location and size of the quarries.
  • The form and design of restoration proposals should seek to deliver conditions for appropriate after-uses which provide benefits to the economy, environment and local communities.
  • The form and design of restoration proposals should seek to increase the biodiversity interests of the area, recognising the value of key habitats (limestone grasslands, limestone dale grasslands and woodlands) in the surrounding landscape, and the opportunities to recreate/replicate these within the new landform of a worked out and restored quarry.

Issue 3: Do you agree with the draft principles that we have identified to ensure a coordinated approach to the restoration of hard rock Carboniferous Limestone quarries? Are there any others that should be included? Please give reasons for your answer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Issue 3: Draft Principles for the restoration of hard rock quarries

The list above sets out the main principles that need to be included in developing a Strategy for restoring hard rock quarries on the Carboniferous Limestone. They are relatively generic in places but can be expanded upon as development of the Strategy progresses.