The future use of a site is a matter for the owner of the quarry
who may not necessarily be the quarry operator. All recent
quarry planning permissions incorporate conditions that require
the quarry to be restored to specific after uses. A number
of very old planning permissions may not have such conditions
and may be classified as brownfield sites. However almost all
quarries are not so regarded and hence the future use at the
end of quarrying requires particular attention. Future uses
should not be inconsistent with local land use activities or
planning zones such as greenbelts.
The issues that planners need to consider when assessing proposals
for quarry after use include:
Minerals issues are generally assessed by the Mineral Planning
Authority who may be part of a County Council whereas the development
issues are principally, but not entirely, a matter for District
or Borough Councils. Any significant development in a former
quarry may require a separate environmental impact assessment
(EIA) if the relevant Council considers this necessary.
- Transport and traffic considerations
- Sustainable development
- Bio and geological diversity
- Housing need
- Mineral sterilisation
- Associated environmental impacts during development and
future land use
An important element in any quarry afteruse involves public
participation and so the developer needs to be aware of this
when producing his scheme proposals.
The financial aspects of the development of schemes for particular
quarry afteruses are obviously important. The practical and
financial implications of developments need to be carefully
costed since the costs can be substantial.
There can be much
to be gained by designing and developing a quarry during the
mineral working stage to aid future developments and reduce
the costs thereof.
In addition other methods of evaluation need to be considered
for example assessing the loss of a habitat or the release
of pressure to develop in greenbelts. There is an opportunity
for planning gain with such projects when they are funded by
built development; this may include additional landscaping,
improvement in transport arrangements, provision of social
housing and land set aside for other social development.
Given the complexities of the issues that need consideration,
and the fact that less than 50% of the quarries in Britain
are worked by the owners of the land and the minerals, it is
not surprising that many mineral operators go for a 'soft environmental
restoration option' when better schemes that are more sustainable
can be developed with the skills that can be used for profit
generating quarry after uses.