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Planning

What influence do local communities have in the minerals planning process?

Why is this important?
More effective community involvement is a key element of the Government's planning reforms introduced in 2004. The objective is to have a planning system that is open, transparent and consistent and that delivers timely decision making without undue delay. The Government considers that it is essential for there to be local ownership and legitimacy of the planning policies and decision making, including those areas where decisions are often complex and potentially controversial. This applies to proposals for new aggregate extraction and other major forms of development. Given that the extraction of aggregate minerals is often perceived by the public as being a concern when new proposals emerge, the implications of this are profound both for the industry and for decision-making authorities.

There are number of ways in which the public can now be involved in planning for the extraction and production of aggregates and an understanding of the key stages of involvement and how this can be achieved is important in helping engage local communities and ensure that their views are part of the decision making process.

Background
The Aarhus Convention established a number of rights for the public with regard to the environment most notably:
  • the right of everyone to receive environmental information that is held by local authorities
  • the right to participate from an early stage in the environmental decision-making process
  • the right to challenge in a court of law public decisions that have been made without respect for the aforementioned rights.
Cartoon showing community concern about a proposed quarry

What can local communities do about quarrying?

  Photo of an aggregates quarry close to a local community
     
The Freedom of Information Act grants a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities and others, subject to certain exemptions and places obligations on public authorities to disclose such information.
 
Its most notable impact in the UK is that it has lead to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and it has influenced recent and emerging Government spatial planning policy as reflected in guidance and statements.The Freedom of Information Act grants a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities and others, subject to certain exemptions and places obligations on public authorities to disclose such information.

Community involvement is included as a key principle in the Government's Planning Policy Statement 1: Delivering Sustainable Development (2005). It is seen as an essential element in delivering sustainable development. This is because it is one of the key ways of ensuring that decisions reflect local views and priorities and hence are better placed to deliver the improvement in the quality of life that is at the heart of the Government's planning policies.
     
It is a key element in emerging mineral planning policy, and the Government supports the need for minerals companies to have effective consultation and liaison with the local community, both before submitting planning applications, and during the operation, restoration and aftercare of sites.
 
It is also a key element in emerging mineral planning policy, and the Government supports the need for minerals companies to have effective consultation and liaison with the local community, both before submitting planning applications, and during the operation, restoration and aftercare sites.

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