Friday, 6 September 2013

What do they do in Essex?

Essex County Council (ECC) is at a more advanced stage with its Replacement Minerals Local Plan than Devon, with public examination due later this year. It has allocated more than 40 million tonnes of new provision for sand and gravel in its plan. Here's what ECC said in its Pre-Submission Draft:

On sustainability and conserving minerals:
The Council promotes sustainable procurement and construction techniques and the use of alternative building materials in accordance with national and local policies.
The minerals hierarchy sets out the different approaches to the supply of minerals... The most sustainable option is to reduce the amount of minerals used, followed by sourcing minerals from alternative sources including secondary and recycled materials, and finally through the primary extraction of minerals.
The role of the plan is to promote the development of a network of minerals recycling and processing facilities and to also control the amount of land allocated for primary extraction in order to promote the use of secondary materials.
With regards to people, it aims:
To ensure that the impacts on amenity of people living in proximity to minerals developments are rigorously controlled, minimised and mitigated.
To maintain and/or enhance landscape, biodiversity and residential amenity for people living in proximity to minerals development.
And on all these matters we would hope that DCC would echo something similar in its new plan. 

Where ECC and DCC will obviously differ is on how sites were selected for future quarrying. ECC says:
Sites have been chosen with regard to their environmental and social acceptability by avoiding imposing any unacceptable adverse impacts on public health and safety, amenity, the environment, local community or highways.
DCC, if it proceeded with the preferred sites so far put forward, would of course simply have to say:
Sites were chosen on the basis of surface and mineral rights being owned by AI.
Why so? Readers may remember that of the 21 sites DCC looked at, and despite a number of other landowners being agreeable in principle to extraction, only three sites were picked - those that had surface and mineral rights owned by AI. Just a coincidence? No, DCC was more focused on sites being 'deliverable' than on the environmental impacts. Some may have seen that as pragmatic. Others that DCC was too closely aligned to the wishes of a Swiss multinational cement conglomerate. Straitgate, as one of these sites, had, in fact, more constraints than almost any other site.