What is the role of central government in the spatial planning control for the extraction and production of aggregates?
Why is this important?
Although it is the role of each Mineral Planning Authority (MPA) to make decisions on individual planning applications for aggregate extraction and to identify the local policies for mineral working and select sites through their Mineral Development Framework (MDF), this role is undertaken within a national planning policy framework set out by the Government, through the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).
The Government sets the overall legislative framework within which the planning function is undertaken. It employs statutory regulations and circulars setting the subordinate legislation and procedure that determines the way in which planning authorities carry out their functions.
These legislative and procedural measures are supported by the policy framework, set out in Planning Policy Statements (PPS) and specific Minerals Policy Statements (MPS) that are gradually replacing older guidance. DCLG adopts an active role in the process from start to finish.
The national PPS establish a framework within which regional and local planning policies can be established. The DCLG also determines, with advice from other bodies, the need for provision for mineral working and the levels of demand for aggregates that need to be met from the different sources that can contribute towards supply.
The Government revised and updated the basis of planning legislation in England under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. Although this was an amendment to the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, it brought in sweeping changes to the way that planning policy is developed at the local level and gave new emphasis to regional planning policies.
It also paved the way for the system of county-based Structure Plans to be replaced by new Regional Spatial Strategies prepared by the Regional Assemblies. The Act also amended the basis of planning decisions and introduced, under Section 38, a requirement for authorities to make decisions in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. It also now includes in Section 39, a statutory requirement that planning authorities exercise their functions with the objective of contributing to sustainable development.
The Treasury forecasts the amount of aggregates that are required for the economy for the foreseeable future (currently up to 2016). The Government then apportions a figure for future production in each of the UK regions, according to the forecast need in each area, which in turn is then subapportioned to the local level (Counties and Unitary Authorities). Thus, is established the need for aggregate in each local planning area and therefore the amount each MPA has to plan for in their Mineral Development Framework. The apportionment process addresses the need for imports, marine aggregate extraction and the production of secondary and recycled aggregates.
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