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Planning Process

Apportionment
The economic forecasts of the Treasury dictate the amount of aggregate mineral that the Government considers will be required in the UK regions to fuel future growth. This will consist of primary aggregate reserves including hard rock, marine aggregate, secondary and recycled aggregates, and imports. Each aggregate-bearing County will then have an aggregates apportionment set at a Regional level and is required, through planning guidance (MPG6) to maintain a landbank of planning permissions which should be attributable to seven year's production at the apportionment rate.

The minerals landbank is an accepted and well understood control on production levels to help reduce the impact of mineral working but at the same time ensuring that there is a steady supply of materials into the economy. An application to work aggregate that would take the landbank up beyond the seven year figure runs the risk of being refused on need grounds alone. The importance of the apportionment figure that has been set and the current landbank position in a given County is a key factor in the assessment of a planning application and is relevant to the development of the Mineral Development Framework because it will dictate how many aggregate sites have to be planned for the duration of the framework period and the seven year period beyond.

Strategic Environmental Assessment
     
As part of the Strategic Environment Assessment process the interrelationship between the likely significant effects on the environment including issues such as biodiversity, amenity, fauna, flora, soil, water, air quality, cultural heritage and landscape is assessed to determine the impact of the emerging proposals in the framework.
 
The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directive applies to plans and programmes where formal preparation began after 21 July 2004. Its purpose is to enable environmental considerations to be taken into account in the preparation and adoption of plans and programmes with a view to promoting sustainable development. It will therefore be a requirement in the future preparation of Mineral Development Frameworks.

As part of the Strategic Environmental Assessment process the interrelationship between the likely significant effects on the environment including issues such as biodiversity, amenity, fauna, flora, soil, water, air quality, cultural heritage and landscape is assessed to determine the impact of the emerging proposals in the framework.

The implications for the selection of aggregate minerals sites is that with the Strategic Environmental Assessment process it is easier for Mineral Planning Authorities (MPA) to assess the environmental capacity of their areas to accommodate new mineral working sites, and indeed therefore their ability to meet their regional apportionment.
The basis for a thorough Strategic Environmental Assessment for a Minerals Development Framework is the baseline information that is used.

Horses in a field

A Strategic Environmental Assessment will investigate current land use and biodiversity.

  Mineral production levels in the UK

Production of aggregate in thousands of tonnes by UK regions 2004: AMRI 2004, Office of National Statistics.

Such information typically comprises published British Geological Survey information in addition to historic information from previous planning applications and field observations.

What the Strategic Environmental Assessment process does is enable the Mineral Planning Authority to determine the extent of its aggregate mineral resources, and compare the possible environmental impact of working one against another. However, even then this may not enable them to finalise a shortlist of sites to promote because ownership is critical to whether a site can be released.

GIS screenshot

Mineral resource information is available through the BGS website (click for link).

A Mineral Planning Authority will take geological advice, either internal or external, as to the extent of the aggregate resources in their area. Once a Mineral Planning Authority has determined the extent of workable resources and the likelihood of those resources being released it will be able to ascertain whether it can meet its apportionment or whether it should adopt a strategy whereby reasonable alternatives should be examined.

Inevitably it is not always the case that the sites selected by Mineral Planning Authorities are the ones that industry wishes to bring forward. A Mineral Planning Authority may have strategic planning reasons why it may want to protect certain areas and direct the industry to other areas. However, from the industry's perspective it may be that these areas do not always contain the right quality of mineral and might be too distant from markets. Such issues are discussed as part of the MDF examination process.

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