New guide to planners to safeguard mineral sites

The Minerals Products Association and Planning Officers Society have published a guide to using the planning system to ensure mineral supplies will continue into the future and not be built over.

The Mineral Products Association (MPA) and the Planning Officers’ Society (POS) has published new Minerals Safeguarding Practice Guidance, which sets out how Local Authorities and Mineral Planning Authorities should use the planning system to protect mineral resources and distribution infrastructure.

The Practice Guide is the latest publication resulting from joint working between the Mineral Products Association and the Planning Officer’s Society, drawing on expertise from public sector planners and the minerals industry.

To download a copy the Practice Guide, click here.

A sufficient supply of minerals and mineral products is essential to the economy and our quality of life and minerals can only be extracted from where they occur in the ground.

Mineral resources are not evenly distributed across the country or the world. Development on or close to mineral resources and active or proposed quarries can effectively sterilise these sites from future use for extraction and so make them unavailable for the needs of the country.

The movement of minerals from areas of production to markets requires the right facilities – rail depots, sidings, wharves, roads – of the right size and in the right place. Transport by water and rail makes movement of these low value bulk materials economically viable and reduces carbon dioxide and other emissions, as well as road congestion.

Mineral and communication assets are critical to the long-term supply of such materials, including natural stone for building. Development can result in direct loss of sites or constraints on their current and future operation.  

National Planning Policy requires authorities to safeguard mineral resources and infrastructure. However, implementation of the National Planning Policy is inconsistent and planning authorities have asked for further guidance on how these resources can be safeguarded.

The Practice Guide from the MPA and POS provides that. Building on experience of local authority planners and the minerals industry, it should be particularly helpful for local planning authorities that determine the majority of minerals planning applications, including those that may affect safeguarded minerals or infrastructure. 

David Payne, MPA’s Senior Planning Advisor, says: “The minerals industry has become increasingly concerned that valuable resources and assets are being adversely affected by development in the wrong place, which could seriously undermine our ability to supply essential minerals and mineral products now and in the future. The Practice Guide provides helpful advice to all planning authorities and developers to understand why safeguarding is important and how to apply it properly to ensure a steady and adequate supply of minerals for the current and future generations.”

Richard Greaves, of POS, is also the Chief Planning Officer at Essex County Council. He says: "Safeguarding mineral resources and protecting minerals infrastructure and the supply chain is not just important to prevent the country’s valuable resources from being sterilised in the short-term, but essential if the construction and development needs of future generations are to be met. This document supports the aims of the National Planning Policy Framework and is a useful guide for all planning authorities, as well as land promotors and developers considering carrying out development on mineral-bearing land or near to existing or proposed mineral infrastructure.”

The Mineral Products Association (MPA) is the trade association for the aggregates, asphalt, cement, concrete, dimension stone, lime, mortar and silica sand industries. With the affiliation of British Precast, the British Association of Reinforcement (BAR), Eurobitume, MPA Northern Ireland, MPA Scotland and the British Calcium Carbonate Federation, it has a growing membership of 530 companies and is the sectoral voice for mineral products. MPA membership is made up of the vast majority of independent SME quarrying companies throughout the UK, as well as the nine major international and global companies. It covers 100% of UK cement production, 90% of GB aggregates production, 95% of asphalt and over 70% of ready-mixed concrete and precast concrete production. In 2016, the industry supplied £18billion worth of materials and services and was the largest single supply sector to the construction industry, which had annual output valued at £152billion. Industry production represents the largest materials flow in the UK economy and is also one of the largest manufacturing sectors.

The Planning Officer’s Society represents nearly 2,000 individual planners working in 80% of the local authorities and public sector organisations around England. Its aim is to ensure that planning makes a major contribution to achieving sustainable development, from national to local level, in ways that are fair and equitable and achieve the social, economic and environmental aspirations of the community.