Initial Consultation document
3. The process so far
Drafting Minerals and Waste Management Policies
The Core Strategy and Development Management Policies in Norfolk's adopted plan have been reviewed and replacement policies and supporting text have been drafted. This process has taken into account the National Planning Policy Framework, National Planning Policy for Waste, National Planning Policy Guidance, other relevant policies and guidance, the performance of current adopted policies, current data on waste management, minerals extraction, proposed development and environmental constraints in Norfolk.
Proposed Mineral Extraction Sites
Call for sites (July 2017) A call for sites was advertised for six weeks to enable landowners, mineral companies and their agents to submit land for consideration for future mineral extraction, of either sand and gravel, carstone, or silica sand during the plan period to 2036. The information required to be submitted included landowner willingness for the site to be included in the plan, geological information to provide an estimate of the mineral resource and information on the environmental constraints of the site.
Assessment of proposed sites
The specific sites proposed in response to the 'call for sites' have been assessed by Planning Officers at Norfolk County Council, in consultation with the relevant County Council officers.
The basis for the site assessments undertaken by the County Council has followed a very similar methodology to that used in the assessment of sites in the adopted Minerals Site Specific Allocations DPD and is as follows:
- A description of the site/area of search and its landscape context;
- Any known landscape constraints (e.g. designated landscape areas);
- The presence of any landscape detractors (e.g. overhead power lines);
- Comments on how existing landscape features or viewpoints might be affected by mineral extraction;
- The landscape impact of mineral extraction (on residents, travellers/visitors' enjoyment of the countryside, light pollution etc) and whether any potential screening itself would be intrusive; and
- Consideration of whether a potential restoration scheme could be proposed which is feasible, suitable and offers opportunities for longer term landscape gains.
- Detailed of any designated nature conservation sites nearby;
- Whether the proposed site or area could affect any designated sites, including the drainage of those sites;
- Whether a suitable restoration scheme could be proposed; and
- Whether there is any potential to create any target habitats (e.g. heathland).
The site assessments do not include details of any protected species found in and around the local area. New minerals sites, being located on rural greenfield sites, are likely to need a biodiversity survey and report as required by Norfolk County Council's Local List for Validation of Planning Applications, or as part of an Environmental Statement accompanying a planning application. The results of a biodiversity survey and report may impact upon the scheme of working, detail potential mitigation measures and might require planning conditions to be attached to any permission granted. However, if certain key species, especially bats or great crested newts, are thought to be present on a site, a full survey with details of mitigation will need to accompany the planning application.
- The hierarchy level of the road used to access the site or area (e.g. HGV access route)
- If not on an HGV access route or better, the suitability of the route to the nearest suitable road (an HGV access route, principal road or distributor road)
- Details of any improvements required to make the site or area suitable in highways terms (e.g. road widening, junction improvements etc).
- Highways access for proposed silica sand extraction will be assessed in terms of suitability of the route from the proposed extraction site or area to the existing silica sand processing plant at Leziate.
Historic Environment and Archaeology
- Details of known heritage assets in the vicinity of the site/ area of search;
- Initial assessment of the historic environment in the vicinity of the site/ area of search based on the heritage conservation principles (aesthetic, evidential, historic and communal values);
- Details of known archaeological assets, including information on finds from the Historic Environment Records Service;
- Assessment of the likelihood of archaeological assets occurring on site;
- Proposals for protection/mitigation likely to be necessary for archaeological assets; and
- Whether potential mineral extraction within the site/area would be supported by Norfolk County Council's Historic Environment Service and whether this is dependent on appropriate protection/mitigation.
The initial site assessment work has been published in this consultation document along with supporting documents as required.
Sustainability Appraisal / Strategic Environmental Assessment
Through the Sustainability Appraisal process, the potential impact (positive or negative) of each planning policy option and each proposed site/area for future mineral extraction will also be assessed on:
- amenity (noise, vibration, visual intrusion, health)
- water resources/ water quality and flood risk
- heritage assets – conservation areas/ listed buildings/ scheduled monuments/ historic parks and gardens / archaeology
- agricultural land grade/ soil quality
- air quality
- employment and economic growth
Sustainability appraisal is central to the planning system. The purpose of Sustainability Appraisal, which is required under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, is to promote sustainable development through integration of social, environmental and economic considerations into the preparation of Local Plans. The Sustainability Appraisal process helps to make sure that the proposals in the plan are the most appropriate given the reasonable alternatives, as well as a means of identifying and mitigating any potential adverse effects that the plan might otherwise have.
Sustainability Appraisals incorporate the requirements of the 'Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes' 204 (commonly referred to as the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive) on the assessment of the effects of certain plans on the environment. Sustainability appraisal ensures that potential environmental effects are given full consideration alongside social and environmental issues.
Sustainability Appraisal is an integral element of the preparation of the Minerals and Waste Local Plan Review, informing in a comprehensive way of the likely impacts of proposed planning policies, and specific sites/ preferred areas and areas of search for future mineral extraction as appropriate. The Sustainability Appraisal will form part of the evidence base for the development of the Minerals and Waste Local Plan Review.
The Initial Sustainability Appraisal is published in two parts: Part A is the Scoping Report and Part B covers developing and refining alternatives and assessing effects.
Habitats Regulations Assessment
A Habitats Regulations Appraisal will be carried out on the Minerals and Waste Local Plan Sand Review in accordance with the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017. If the Minerals and Waste Local Plan Review is likely to have significant effects on European habitats or species, located within, or in the vicinity of Norfolk, then a full Habitats Regulations Assessment will be undertaken.
A Habitats Regulations Assessment is undertaken to assess the impacts of a land-use plan against the conservation objectives of European designated nature conservation sites (SPAs, SACs and also Ramsar sites) and to ascertain where the Plan would adversely affect the integrity of the site, and if so how to amend the plan to avoid any potentially damaging effects. The Habitats Regulations Assessment will form part of the evidence base for the development of the Minerals and Waste Local Plan Review.