17. Facilitating the sustainable use of minerals
Paragraphs 203 to 211
203. It is essential that there is a sufficient supply of minerals to provide the infrastructure, buildings, energy and goods that the country needs. Since minerals are a finite natural resource, and can only be worked where they are found, best use needs to be made of them to secure their long-term conservation.
204. Planning policies should:
(a) provide for the extraction of mineral resources of local and national importance, but not identify new sites or extensions to existing sites for peat extraction;
(b) so far as practicable, take account of the contribution that substitute or secondary and recycled materials and minerals waste would make to the supply of materials, before considering extraction of primary materials, whilst aiming to source minerals supplies indigenously;
(c) safeguard mineral resources by defining Mineral Safeguarding Areas; and adopt appropriate policies so that known locations of specific minerals resources of local and national importance are not sterilised by non-mineral development where this should be avoided (whilst not creating a presumption that the resources defined will be worked);
(d) set out policies to encourage the prior extraction of minerals, where practical and environmentally feasible, if it is necessary for non-mineral development to take place;
(e) safeguard existing, planned and potential sites for: the bulk transport, handling and processing of minerals; the manufacture of concrete and concrete products; and the handling, processing and distribution of substitute, recycled and secondary aggregate material;
(f) set out criteria or requirements to ensure that permitted and proposed operations do not have unacceptable adverse impacts on the natural and historic environment or human health, taking into account the cumulative effects of multiple impacts from individual sites and/or a number of sites in a locality;
(g) when developing noise limits, recognise that some noisy short-term activities, which may otherwise be regarded as unacceptable, are unavoidable to facilitate minerals extraction; and
(h) ensure that worked land is reclaimed at the earliest opportunity, taking account of aviation safety, and that high quality restoration and aftercare of mineral sites takes place.
205. When determining planning applications, great weight should be given to the benefits of mineral extraction, including to the economy 65 . In considering proposals for mineral extraction, minerals planning authorities should:
(a) as far as is practical, provide for the maintenance of landbanks of non-energy minerals from outside National Parks, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Sites, scheduled monuments and conservation areas;
(b) ensure that there are no unacceptable adverse impacts on the natural and historic environment, human health or aviation safety, and take into account the cumulative effect of multiple impacts from individual sites and/or from a number of sites in a locality;
(c) ensure that any unavoidable noise, dust and particle emissions and any blasting vibrations are controlled, mitigated or removed at source 66 , and establish appropriate noise limits for extraction in proximity to noise sensitive properties;
(d) not grant planning permission for peat extraction from new or extended sites;
(e) provide for restoration and aftercare at the earliest opportunity, to be carried out to high environmental standards, through the application of appropriate conditions. Bonds or other financial guarantees to underpin planning conditions should only be sought in exceptional circumstances;
(f) consider how to meet any demand for small-scale extraction of building stone at, or close to, relic quarries needed for the repair of heritage assets, taking account of the need to protect designated sites; and
(g) recognise the small-scale nature and impact of building and roofing stone quarries, and the need for a flexible approach to the duration of planning permissions reflecting the intermittent or low rate of working at many sites.
206. Local planning authorities should not normally permit other development proposals in Mineral Safeguarding Areas if it might constrain potential future use for mineral working.
207. Minerals planning authorities should plan for a steady and adequate supply of aggregates by:
(a) preparing an annual Local Aggregate Assessment, either individually or jointly, to forecast future demand, based on a rolling average of 10 years’ sales data and other relevant local information, and an assessment of all supply options (including marine dredged, secondary and recycled sources);
(b) participating in the operation of an Aggregate Working Party and taking the advice of that party into account when preparing their Local Aggregate Assessment;
(c) making provision for the land-won and other elements of their Local Aggregate Assessment in their mineral plans, taking account of the advice of the Aggregate Working Parties and the National Aggregate Co-ordinating Group as appropriate. Such provision should take the form of specific sites, preferred areas and/or areas of search and locational criteria as appropriate;
(d) taking account of any published National and Sub National Guidelines on future provision which should be used as a guideline when planning for the future demand for and supply of aggregates;
(e) using landbanks of aggregate minerals reserves principally as an indicator of the security of aggregate minerals supply, and to indicate the additional provision that needs to be made for new aggregate extraction and alternative supplies in mineral plans;
(f) maintaining landbanks of at least 7 years for sand and gravel and at least 10 years for crushed rock, whilst ensuring that the capacity of operations to supply a wide range of materials is not compromised 67 ;
(g) ensuring that large landbanks bound up in very few sites do not stifle competition; and
(h) calculating and maintaining separate landbanks for any aggregate materials of a specific type or quality which have a distinct and separate market.
208. Minerals planning authorities should plan for a steady and adequate supply of industrial minerals by:
(a) co-operating with neighbouring and more distant authorities to ensure an adequate provision of industrial minerals to support their likely use in industrial and manufacturing processes;
(b) encouraging safeguarding or stockpiling so that important minerals remain available for use;
(c) maintaining a stock of permitted reserves to support the level of actual and proposed investment required for new or existing plant, and the maintenance and improvement of existing plant and equipment 68 ; and
(d) taking account of the need for provision of brick clay from a number of different sources to enable appropriate blends to be made.
Oil, gas and coal exploration and extraction
209. Minerals planning authorities should*:
(b) when planning for on-shore oil and gas development, clearly distinguish between, and plan positively for, the three phases of development (exploration, appraisal and production), whilst ensuring appropriate monitoring and site restoration is provided for;
(c) encourage underground gas and carbon storage and associated infrastructure if local geological circumstances indicate its feasibility;
(d) indicate any areas where coal extraction and the disposal of colliery spoil may be acceptable;
(e) encourage the capture and use of methane from coal mines in active and abandoned coalfield areas; and
(f) provide for coal producers to extract separately, and if necessary stockpile, fireclay so that it remains available for use.
*Paragraph 209a has been removed following the decision in R (on the application of Stephenson) v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government  EWHC 519 (Admin).
210. When determining planning applications, minerals planning authorities should ensure that the integrity and safety of underground storage facilities are appropriate, taking into account the maintenance of gas pressure, prevention of leakage of gas and the avoidance of pollution.
211. Planning permission should not be granted for the extraction of coal unless:
(a) the proposal is environmentally acceptable, or can be made so by planning conditions or obligations; or
(b) if it is not environmentally acceptable, then it provides national, local or community benefits which clearly outweigh its likely impacts (taking all relevant matters into account, including any residual environmental impacts).
(67) Longer periods may be appropriate to take account of the need to supply a range of types of aggregates, locations of permitted reserves relative to markets, and productive capacity of permitted sites. ↩
(68)These reserves should be at least 10 years for individual silica sand sites; at least 15 years for cement primary (chalk and limestone) and secondary (clay and shale) materials to maintain an existing plant, and for silica sand sites where significant new capital is required; and at least 25 years for brick clay, and for cement primary and secondary materials to support a new kiln. ↩