Land & Mineral News
Welcome to our News and Views page. On this page we will focus on topical issues and hope that you will find the information relevant and helpful. The views are opinions of the authors only and should not be relied upon in any way in specific cases without taking further advice.
Increased Waste Recycling Production Won on Appeal.
LMM applied in August 2017, on behalf of Sheehan’s Haulage & Plant Hire Ltd, to extend the production restriction at their Oxfordshire recycling plant from 100,000 tpa to 175,000 tpa. The Site is well located in an industrial area of large and small businesses. No new plant was needed because sufficient capacity exists in the modern set-up. No new permission over any extra land was sought. The site is screened from houses, the nearest single dwelling being half a kilometre away. Due to the restriction some waste, which could not go going to the site, was being carried over 70 miles to alternative sites. The project’s sustainability and logical common sense was readily demonstrated and it complied with all planning policy. There is a need for the facility and 12 jobs would be created. Oxfordshire County Council refused permission in January 2018 on traffic grounds. The decision was reversed by the Planning Inspectorate and LMM’s appeal was allowed in December 2018 by the Inspector who concluded; “the increase in volume of material transported would not have a significant impact on the countryside”.
6th February 2019 – © Land & Mineral Management
Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Screening Appeal Success at a Materials Reprocessing Facility.
When LMM approached Somerset County Council recently for a Screening Opinion on a proposed Materials Reprocessing Facility near Westonzoyland, they responded that it was an EIA Development. The impact of this being that there are additional requirements in the planning process which mean significant extra cost and time delay.
The facility had a proposed throughput of up to 50,000tpa of inert, wood and green materials, but SCC considered an Environmental Impact Assessment was required due to the proximity of Langmead and Weston Levels SSSI, which is designated for its invertebrates and flora. We believed this decision was incorrect and appealed to the Secretary of State, requesting a Screening Direction. The Secretary of State’s decision confirmed that the proposed development was not likely to have a significant environmental impact and that an Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Statement are not required.
Challenging the Screening Opinion took only two weeks and ultimately means a significant time and cost saving for the applicant. We always make a thorough assessment of any proposal for planning permission and endeavour to find the most commercially beneficial and cost effective route through the red tape. In this case common sense has won the day.
24 September 2018 – © Land & Mineral Management
National Planning Policy Framework Consultation
Government proposes to update the NPPF particularly in regard to the provision of houses. Building houses requires minerals and the section on minerals is also being reviewed. LMM will respond to the consultation both directly and through the Mineral Products Association to ensure that the concept of minerals being essential to support economic growth will not be diluted. Some of government’s proposed changes, which might not have been intended, could be interpreted as a weakening of the argument for minerals development.
The dimension stone industry has to date been very poorly served by the NPPF with only two weak paragraphs which say that building stone comes from small scale quarries. The industry is important in its own right because it supplies indigenous stone to enhance landscape character and the built environment of our cities, towns and rural areas. It reduces imports which helps the UK’s balance of payments. Some stone is quarried underground which reduces environmental impact. LMM will propose that government will consider policies, broadly following those which LMM were instrumental in having included in the current Somerset Minerals Plan, to strongly support the building stone industry.
10 March 2018 – © Land & Mineral Management
Bowden’s Lane Quarry
At Bowden’s Lane Quarry in Somerset operator Lovell Stone Group found nationally significant Roman archaeology, including a possible corn drier, in an area with planning permission for Blue and White Lias dimension stone extraction. The archaeology was fully investigated and recorded in a substantial rescue evaluation but, to preserve the important features, LMM and Lovell Stone proposed that, if planning permission could be obtained for a new area, permission for quarrying in the important archaeological area could be revoked. This strategy was agreed with Somerset County Council. Planning permission for the extension was granted in January 2018 and a Unilateral Undertaking provided by Lovell Stone just in time to save the important features which will now be permanently preserved.
16 February 2018 – © Land & Mineral Management
Equestrian Development in AONB
Many may think of Land & Mineral Management’s work only in terms of minerals and waste development. However LMM’s team of qualified planners do cover a wider spectrum including industrial, residential and rural development. One recent notable success was securing permission for an equestrian centre with an indoor riding school, stabling for 32 horses, provision for a residential property and other ancillary development in the Cotswolds AONB. LMM will rise to the challenge of any site and any development; just ask.
15 February 2018 – © Land & Mineral Management
Day Group Avonmouth IBA Appeal Success
LMM is pleased that a government inspector has upheld the Day Group’s appeal against the Environment Agency’s refusal for a Permit to recycle Incinerator Bottom Ash at their site at Avonmouth Docks submitted on their behalf by LMM. The Agency had refused the Permit on the grounds of concerns about impact from dust, odour and the use of Best Available Techniques ( BAT).
Following exchange of Proofs of Evidence, the EA, at the 11th hour, agreed to the Management Plans submitted by the Day Group and draft Permit conditions. LMM formed part of an experienced team assisting the Day Group with the Appeal process and whilst incredibly frustrated by the EA’s actions we are pleased that the decision to Appeal has been vindicated by the outcome. The Permit has now been issued by the Environment Agency.
Historically, it has been unusual for the Environment Agency to refuse Permits, but we are sensing a change in this. The degree of public pressure appears to be playing a part in EA decisions and sadly we may be seeing more Appeals in the future.
15 February 2018 – © Land & Mineral Management
Increase in Planning Fees
Under cover of Christmas, Parliament has approved an increase in planning fees by 20%. It is, however, conditional upon the increased income being reinvested in planning services. The new fees come into effect on 17th January 2018. Under the regulations application fees will now range from a minimum of £96 (previously £80) to a maximum of £300,000 (previously £250,000).
We have always avoided fees for applications where permitted development rights have been withdrawn but that little known opportunity is now closed. The regulations also prescribe fees for planning permissions in principle, but that is likely not to apply to quarries and waste sites, and introduce a £96 fee for prior approval for a range of recently introduced permitted development rights.
The only Christmas cheer is that there has been no further mention of previously mooted proposals to charge up to £2,000 for submitting planning appeals.
7 January 2018 – © Land & Mineral Management
Quarry Water Abstraction – Transitional Provisions
Defra has announced that transitional provisions for quarry dewatering will come into force on 1st January 2018. The intention is to impose volume limits initially with reference to previous abstraction rates and in future by reference to environmental risk and impacts on other abstractors. It is said that the Regulator (i.e. the Environment Agency) will endeavour to use “a licensing approach that minimises regulatory burdens on the abstractor” and reduce red tape to ensure that regulation is “proportionate, effective and seeks to minimise negative business impacts.” But we’ve heard all that before.
From 1st January operators will have until 31st December 2019 to apply for an abstraction licence. If an application is not made all abstraction must stop on 1st January 2020. Applications will be determined between 1st January 2020 and 31st December 2022 so operators making their applications in the two year transition period should not be restricted until 1st January 2023.
Licences will be based on evidence of the last seven years historic abstraction levels and data to demonstrate that there has been no environmental harm. There will be no way of increasing these levels to allow for growth or extensions in the transitional arrangement. Where abstractions are currently not measured the Regulator will “use a licensing approach that minimises regulatory burden on the abstractor” whatever that means.
One glimmer of hope for quarries operating above water table is that a licence will not be required to pump wholly or mainly rainwater. However, any operator who is not currently abstracting and intends to start after 1st January will need a new licence. That process is supposed to take only five months but we’ve heard that before too.
13 December 2017 – © Land & Mineral Management
Permits and Licences – Fees and Charges
The Environment Agency is planning to overhaul the way it charges for Permits and Licences from 1st April 2018 and has started a public consultation regarding the increases. The consultation can be found via the EA’s website at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/environment-agency-charge-proposals-from-april-2018
The information already in circulation makes for alarming reading. For example:
|Bespoke Recovery Permit
||Waste Recovery Plan
|Water Quality Trade Discharge
In addition if the EA do not agree that an application has been properly made it will return it and keep 20% of the fee or £1,500. Amendments to an application will cost £1,900. Pre-application charges will cost £100 per hour.
The consultation period remains open until 26 January 2018. We suggest that the industry voices its concerns as loudly as possible.
13 December 2017 – © Land & Mineral Management
Planning Permission to 2095
Cornwall Council has granted planning permission to reconfigure Carnsew Quarry thereby enabling the extraction of 22 million tonnes of granite over the next 80 years. Accepting that they should not constrain development by limiting the planning permission, the Council has allowed it to run until 31st December 2095. Land & Mineral Management advised Colas on the development strategy and managed the planning application on their behalf. In his address to Cornwall’s Strategic Planning Committee, John Salmon said, “Carnsew Quarry will provide possibly the most strategically important, long term aggregate reserve to supply Cornwall’s needs throughout the 21st century”.
21 October 2016 – © Land & Mineral Management
LMM secure new Wood Recycling Permit
LMM applied and were granted a new environmental permit for A&A Recycling Ltd’s Meriden site. Following the revision of standard rules permit SR2011No4 many wood recycling companies have had to apply for new permit. A&A were amongst these but they also wanted to increase their throughput beyond the previous 75,000tpa limit to 150,000tpa.
LMM prepared their application which included a bespoke Fire Prevention Plan which sought storage limits in excess of the EA guidance.
6 October 2016 – © Land & Mineral Management
LMM success in Enforcement Appeal with costs
LMM has successfully challenged an enforcement notice in connection with a change of use from B1 to B2 as a wood processing business. LMM challenged the notice on a number of grounds which were considered by the Inspector who ultimately nullified the EN.
LMM are very pleased with the result and in particular the an award of full costs to our client.
Whilst we strive to avoid appeals or enforcement action, in this instance an enforcement notice was unavoidable as Taunton Deane Borough Council’s Planning Committee were determined to take swift enforcement action following refusing a retrospective application which had officer recommendation for approval. The rushed actions of the authority and legal inadequacy of the EN directly led to appeal outcome.
30 September 2016 – © Land & Mineral Management