Policy WP11: Disposal of inert waste by landfill

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Preferred Options consultation document

Representation ID: 98785

Received: 30/10/2019

Respondent: Historic England

Representation Summary:

Criterion d relates to improvements to biodiversity, landscape and or amenity. We suggest that the historic environment be added to this list.

When planning ahead for restoration, it is important that the setting of heritage assets, the historic character of landscape and the archaeology of the former extraction site itself are given due consideration and we would expect to see more explicit reference to the historic environment in the policy.
Landscape characterisation techniques can inform decision-making, enabling restoration to reflect or harmonise with the character of the surrounding landscape. The results of archaeological investigation, in advance of and during extraction programmes, can provide evidence of past land use that can help to inform decisions on appropriate future land use. The supporting text for the policy would be strengthened by making an expanded reference to the historic environment and the role that it can have to play in shaping restoration plans.

Suggested change: Criterion d - add historic environment.
Add more text in relation to restoration and the historic environment.

Full text:

Norfolk Minerals and Waste Local Plan - Preferred Options Draft 2019

Thank you for consulting Historic England on the Norfolk Minerals and Waste Local Plan - Further Consultation Draft. As a statutory consultee, our role is to ensure that the conservation of the historic environment is fully integrated into planning policy and that any policy documents make provision for a positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment.

Our comments below should be read with reference to our previous comments dated 31st August 2018. Please also see our detailed comments in the attached table, Appendix 1. [ATTACHED]

Whilst we consider many aspects of the plan to be sound we have identified issues with some of the policies and site allocations which do compromise the overall soundness of the plan.

Under paragraph 35 of the NPPF some aspects of this Plan are unsound as they have not been positively prepared, are not justified, effective, or consistent with national policy. We have identified below some of the key areas where we find the Plan unsound and what measures are needed to make the Plan sound. In summary we highlight the following issues:

a) Insufficient Historic Environment Policy
It is our view that there is currently insufficient policy provision for the historic environment in the Plan. We note that the historic environment is addressed in bullet point l of policy MW2. We remain very concerned that criterion l does not provide sufficient protection for the historic environment. Normally we would expect to see a specific separate policy for the historic environment in a Minerals and Waste Local Plan. This policy is insufficient as it stands. Further detail is set out in the attached table.

b) AOS E and SIL2 - HIA
Whilst we welcome the completion of an HIA for AOSE and site SIL2, we have identified a number of shortcomings in the assessment, particularly the need to address non-designated heritage assets and the wider historic environment and inter-relationship between the various assets in this complex medieval landscape. Our concerns are set out in more detail in the attached table. We suggest that the HIA is revised accordingly to provide a robust evidence base for the Plan. We also suggest that the Plan should not simply mark areas with purple hatching that have been identified by the HIA as unsuitable for extraction, but actually delete those areas from the areas of search and site allocation in the Plan altogether.

c) Other allocations requiring further assessment/proportionate evidence
We have identified a number of site allocations where we continue to have concerns regarding the potential impact on the historic environment, perhaps due to proximity of heritage assets or the highly graded nature of some of these assets. These sites are set out in the attached table and include MIN65, MIN96, MIN213, MIN 209/10/11, MIN25 AND MIN40. For these sites we recommend an HIA is prepared now in advance of the next draft of the Plan. This should provide a robust evidence base for the plan. Any evidence needs to be proportionate, and need not necessarily be particularly onerous. .For most of these sites a fairly brief HIA will suffice. Our site allocations advice note <https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/historic-environment-and-site-allocations-in-local-plans/> provides further advice in this respect and we would be happy to discuss the matter further and advise on a suitable way forward.

d) MIN 207 Land at Pinkney Field, Briston
We recommend that site is deleted from the Plan due to the impact on the historic environment.

Further details of each of these main areas are set out in the attached table.
We have suggested a series of other changes to the Plan. Many of these changes do not go to the heart of the Plan's soundness, but instead are intended to improve upon it. We believe that these comments can be addressed by changes to wording in the plan.

Sustainability Appraisal
We do not have the capacity to review the Sustainability Appraisal report in any detail but did note on quickly skimming the report some surprising conclusions in the report. For example in relation to site MIN 40 - land east of Grandcourt Farm, East Winch where it was concluded that there would be 'No effects expected during the extraction phase' despite a grade II* listed church being located just 50m from the site boundary.

We consider that with such proximity there is likely to be some effects on the setting of this asset. On this brief observation we must question the some of the assessment in the SA.

In preparation of the forthcoming local plan, we encourage you to draw on the knowledge of local conservation officers, the county archaeologist and local heritage groups.

Please note that absence of a comment on a policy, allocation or document in this letter does not mean that Historic England is content that the policy, allocation or document is devoid of historic environment issues. We should like to stress that this response is based on the information provided by the Council in its consultation. To avoid any doubt, this does not affect our obligation to provide further advice and, potentially, object to specific proposals, which may subsequently arise as a result of this plan, where we consider that these would have an adverse effect upon the historic environment.

If you have any questions with regards to the comments made then please do get back to me. In the meantime we look forward to continuing to work with you and your colleagues.


Preferred Options consultation document

Representation ID: 99037

Received: 30/10/2019

Respondent: Brett Group

Agent: Heaton Planning Ltd

Representation Summary:

Policy WP11 is supported and could be extended by including the importation of inert waste where it is necessary for agricultural improvement as part of criterion (d).

Full text:

Please find to follow representations submitted on behalf of the Brett Group (Bretts). Bretts have previously made representations to the initial Plan Review consultation in 2018 and have submitted a site - MIN 38 Land at Waveney Forest, Fritton - for consideration by the Minerals Planning Authority (MPA) as a suitable allocation for sand and gravel extraction.
The process so far
Section 3 sets out the methodology for site assessments - including landscape, ecology, highways etc.
What is not clear from the site assessment and sustainability appraisal methodology is the balance applied to the impacts alongside the economic and social benefits. The NPPF (paragraph 8) is clear that achieving sustainable development means that the planning system has three overarching objectives, economic, social and environmental, which are interdependent and need to be pursued in mutually supportive ways (so that opportunities can be taken to secure net gains across each of the different objectives). Para 32 of NPPF (2019) states:
Local plans and spatial development strategies should be informed throughout their preparation by a sustainability appraisal that meets the relevant legal requirements. This should demonstrate how the plan has addressed the relevant economic, social and environmental objectives (including opportunities for net gains). Significant adverse impacts on these objectives should be avoided and, where possible, alternative options which reduce or eliminate such impacts should be pursued. Where significant adverse impacts are unavoidable, suitable mitigation measures should be proposed (or, where this is not possible, compensatory measures should be considered).
Whilst there is individual scoring on each sustainability appraisal objective for every site put forward (contained within the Sustainability Appraisal), there does not appear to be a clear process for illustrating how a judgement has been reached on whether to allocate a site or not and how sites with similar scoring on certain objectives have been taken forward or discounted. The methodology does not clearly provide a balance of the impacts - a number of sites clearly have numerous environmental sensitivities but do not constitute an objection in their own right. There should be some consideration of the cumulative impact of such effects. In addition, the deliverability of sites and their location in proximity to markets should be given weight in the overall balance.
Norfolk's Spatial Portrait
Paragraph 5.29 identifies there are, 'particular clusters of sand and gravel workings near to King's Lynn, in the north of Breckland District and around Norwich'. Whilst the MWLP is not advocating a locational strategy per se, the location of sites is to a certain degree dictated by proximity to market given the limited access to major roads within the County. This should be reflected within the overall strategy and greater weighting given to the potential for new development and the need for mineral sites to be located in close proximity to those markets.
Paragraph 5.30 states that, 'sand and gravel production in Norfolk was 1.511 million tonnes in 2018. The 10-year rolling average of sand and gravel sales was 1.361 million tonnes in the period 2009-2018. The 3-year rolling average of sand and gravel sales was 1.58 million tonnes in the period 2016-2018. The permitted reserves for sand and gravel extraction sites in Norfolk were 13.31 million tonnes at the end of 2018.
Based on the 10-year sales average, the permitted reserve provides a sand and gravel landbank of over 9 years. The 'trend' over the last 3 years is for a higher level of sales than the 10 year average. Using these figures the landbank is reduced to 8.4 years. Whilst this exceeds the requirements of the NPPF for at least 7 years, the latest LAA (December 2018) is indicating that there were no planning applications or planning permissions for new sand and gravel extraction in 2017. This needs to be kept under careful review to ensure that replenishment rates do not affect long term supply of sand and gravel.
The Strategy - Vision and Objectives
Minerals and Waste Local Plan Vision to 2036:
1st para - Norfolk will continue to be self-sufficient in the production of sand & gravel, whilst making an important contribution to the national production of silica sand. A steady and adequate supply of minerals to support sustainable economic growth will be planned for through allocating sufficient sites and/or areas in the Plan to meet the forecast need for sand and gravel, carstone, and silica sand, as required by national planning policy
Whilst the MWLP is proposing the County to be 'self sufficient' in the production of sand and gravel, the location of sites to market is an important consideration. Sole reliance on sites within the County to meet demand does not take account of the spatial strategy (Policy MP2) which is advocating sites are located close to urban/growth areas.

3rd para - All mineral workings will be covered by progressive restoration schemes
This is not in accordance with para 205(e) of the NPPF (2019) which recommends restoration should be at the earliest opportunity. It is not always possible to put in place a progressive restoration scheme, we recommend the wording is amended to be in accordance with NPPF.

Minerals Strategic Objectives [proposed new text in CAPITALS]
The following wording changes are suggested to MS01 to accord with paragraph 207(a) of the NPPF. This would also bring objective MSO1 in line with MSO2 for industrial minerals. Reference to the importance of safeguarding mineral resources should be a separate objective.
MSO1. To provide a steady and adequate supply of aggregate minerals by identifying adequate mineral extraction sites/areas within Norfolk sufficient to meet the FUTURE DEMAND requirements FORECAST WITHIN [delete: of] the Local Aggregate Assessment [delete: and safeguarding existing infrastructure].
MSO4 - requiring the justification for the potential sterilisation of minerals from competing development interests is supported.
MSO7 - para 204(g) of the NPPF (2018) recognises that some noisy short term activities, which may otherwise be regarded as unacceptable, are unavoidable to facilitate minerals extraction. MSO7 should be reworded to conform with NPPF.
MSO7. To ensure potential impacts on the amenity of those people living in proximity to minerals development are effectively controlled, minimised and MITIGATED TO ACCEPTABLE LEVELS IN ACCORDANCE WITH ADOPTED STANDARDS.
MSO9 - a mineral operator cannot always guarantee a positive contribution to natural, built and historic environment, particularly when the operator does not own the land with the landowner seeking different aspirations. The objective should be to seek to positively contribute.
Development Management Criteria
Policy MW2 - Development Management Criteria
Policy MW2 is supported - the policy is in line with NPPF, in particular the final requirement on restoration recognising that environmental enhancements sought where appropriate. However, this is contrary to the earlier Vision and Objectives. The Vision and Objectives should be amended to seek conformity throughout the plan and with NPPF.

Policy MW4 - Climate Change
Whilst the principle of reducing the climate change impact of new development is accepted, Criteria C of Policy MW4 should be deleted as it is not reasonable and overly onerous on operators. It is not clear how this would even be measured let alone controlled/enforced.

Policy MW6 - Agricultural soils
Policy MW6 is supported. The final bullet point of Policy MW6 state, 'the benefit of restoring the land to another after-use can be shown to outweigh the loss of the agricultural use of the land.' This is supported and in accordance with NPPF. However, this approach needs to be reflected in strategic objective MSO9 which requires landscape and biodiversity improvements, this cannot always be the case, MSO9 should be amended to reflect Policy MW6.
Waste Management Specific Policies
Policy WP3 - Land uses potentially suitable for waste management facilities
Policy WP3 identifies that waste management facilities at existing mineral workings and landfill sites may be considered acceptable on a temporary basis with planning permission restricted to a cessation date for the mineral operation or landfill activities. We consider that greater flexibility should be provided within the Policy - there can be occasions when it is appropriate to retain a facility, for example recycling, that can benefit from the retention of infrastructure and continue to serve the markets established. This would support the overall strategic objective WSO1. We recommend Policy WP3 should provide greater flexibility and be amended accordingly.

Policy WP4 - Recycling or transfer of inert construction, demolition and excavation waste
As with Policy WP3, Policy WP4 seeks to restrict waste management operations to the life of the mineral operation. We do not consider that this is always necessary or appropriate and there may be opportunities for long term use of facilities to serve existing markets. It is recommended that Policy WP4 is less restrictive.
Notwithstanding the above, the second part of the policy, repeats the requirements of the first and it is not clear why it is necessary as it serves the same purpose.
[Delete: 'Applications to vary planning conditions to extend the time for recycling operations on mineral workings will only be acceptable where:
a) there are exceptional circumstances to justify why the timely restoration of the mineral workings set out in the extant planning permission could not be completed;
b) the recycling operation is ancillary to the primary land use of mineral extraction at the site; and
c) the recycling operation would cease no later than the cessation date of the planning permission for the mineral extraction operation.']

Policy WP11 - Disposal of inert waste by landfill
Policy WP11 is supported and could be extended by including the importation of inert waste where it is necessary for agricultural improvement as part of criterion (d).
Minerals Specific Policies
NCC (paragraph MP1.6) propose to use the last 20 years average of 1.868mtpa rather than the 10 year average of 1.361mtpa or 3 year trend of 1.58mtpa. The justification for this is to enable a sufficient quantity of sand and gravel resources to be available over the 20 year plan period and would take into account potential fluctuations in the economy. The Plan recognises a need to provide for an additional 20,313,300 tonnes of sand and gravel. This has reduced from 23,063,560 tonnes since the previous consultation in August 2018. Whilst this positive approach to securing a steady and adequate supply of aggregates is supported, careful consideration needs to be given to the replenishment rates of sand and gravel sites, their location as well as production capacity to meet the annual production requirement. It is not considered that the annual monitoring/LAA captures this adequately.

Policy MP1 - provision for minerals extraction
Policy MP1 is seeking to ensure sufficient sites are allocated to deliver at least 20,313,300 tonnes of sand and gravel. This is supported. However, there needs to be some flexibility built into the Plan to ensure that sites not allocated could be brought forward to maintain production capacity in the County to meet anticipated annual production requirements. The County benefits from having so many sites operating. However, the Council can not control the applications being brought forward by industry. If there is a delay in Planning Applications or operational constraints affect production at a number of sites, the ability to meet the annual production requirement is affected unless other sites can be brought forward. The 20,313,300 tonnes is a forecast of demand and should not be perceived as a ceiling. The MPA's approach to 'resist' non allocated sites could threaten any flexibility.
The second part of the policy should be amended to read [new text in CAPITALS],
Mineral extraction for sand and gravel outside of allocated sites will be [delete: resisted] SUPPORTED by the Mineral Planning Authority [delete: unless] WHERE the applicant can demonstrate:
a) There is an overriding justification and/or overriding benefit for the proposed extraction, INCLUDING MAINTAINING A CONTINUITY IN SUPPLY AND OVERALL PRODUCTIVE CAPACITY, and
b) The proposal is consistent with all other relevant policies set out in the Development Plan.

Policy MP2 Spatial strategy for minerals extraction
Paragraph MP2.5 identifies, Norfolk's urban areas and main towns are the locations where there will be the greatest need for a supply of aggregate for new housing developments and associated infrastructure'.
Policy MP2: Spatial Strategy for mineral extraction states:
'Within the resource areas identified on the key diagram, specific sites for sand and gravel or carstone extraction should be located within five miles of one of Norfolk's urban areas or three miles of one of the main towns (detailed in the supporting text) and/or be well-related to one of Norfolk's urban areas or main towns via appropriate transport infrastructure'.
The MPA is not proposing to allocate any sites within the Great Yarmouth area. Within the listed settlement hierarchy Great Yarmouth is in the highest tier as an urban area (Paragraph MP2.6). The Council are advocating a 'self sufficiency' in overall sand and gravel supply for the County without giving due consideration to a spread of aggregate site allocations to ensure that the need can be met. The assumption that demand will be supplied from somewhere within the County does not meet the spatial strategy approach advocated in Policy MP2 to locate sites close to the anticipated demand - i.e major growth areas. We do not believe this secures a steady and adequate supply of sand and gravel to the Great Yarmouth area and the Council should be allocating additional reserves. These additional reserves could be secured through the allocation of land at MIN38 - Waveney Forest, Fritton.
Great Yarmouth is constrained by the presence of 'The Broads' National Park. Therefore, limited opportunities for sites to be located close to it. There is one major active sand and gravel site - Cemex's Norton Subcourse Quarry - in close proximity to Great Yarmouth (circa 15 miles). Planning permission was granted for an extension to this site in 2015 (C/7/2012/7017). At that time it was proposed to extract 2.3 million tonnes of sand and gravel at a rate of between 100,000 and 200,000 tpa - between 11 and 21 years of operational life. At a worst case operating at the lower rate of 100,000tpa, the site is likely to be exhausted during the Plan period unless other extensions are put forward (none of which appear to have been promoted to the Plan). Even this site has to use the A143 and pass through the National Park area. The other nearest sites appears to be the LP Group operating Kirby Cane Quarry (planning permission expires in 2025) and Burgh Castle. Land at Welcome Pit to the north of Burgh Castle has been promoted but has been considered unsuitable for allocation because the local road network is sub standard. Even if this site were considered suitable for allocation the reserve and annual tonnage are so small that they would not make a meaningful contribution to the landbank and year on year supply of aggregate to the local market.
The site at MIN38 - Waveney Forest, Fritton, could secure a long term solution to mineral supply in this location without having to move through the National Park boundary.

Policy MP5 - Core River Valleys
Paragraph MP5.4 identifies that the Core River Valleys are not formally designated for their landscape or biodiversity interest. Policy MP5 seeks protection to the Core River Valleys that is over and above the protection offered in the NPPF to sites of national landscape and biodiversity importance. There is also no weighting of the importance of mineral extraction against the potential for any impact (which could be mitigated/compensated). The policy should not preclude all development, but it is accepted it is appropriate to caveat with the requirement to assess any impact.
Policy MP9 - Concrete batching and asphalt plants
Policy MP9 limits the use to the life of the quarry, it is sometimes beneficial to retain the use of ancillary facilities after the mineral operation has been completed making full use of a developed access and transport links and facilitating an existing market. Retaining existing plant and facilities and importing mineral from satellite sites may actually have some local amenity benefits and limit potential impacts.
The second paragraph could be amended as follows [proposed new text in CAPITALS]:
At sand and gravel workings, planning permission will be limited to the end date of the quarry permission, or to when the indigenous material no longer forms the majority of the feedstock being used, whichever is the sooner, UNLESS THERE ARE OTHER OVERRIDING REASONS/JUSTIFICATIONS FOR THE PLANT'S RETENTION.
In a response to Norfolk County Council's 'Call for Sites' a comprehensive submission was made on behalf of the Brett Group promoting land at Waveney Forest, Fritton. The submission included a detailed assessment of the potential environmental and amenity impacts that may arise from the development of a new sand and gravel quarry at Fritton.
The individual site assessment contained within the Draft Plan has concluded the site is considered to be unsuitable for allocation because:
* * The harm to the significance of Waveney Forest as an example of a WW2 training area could not be appropriately mitigated, as the significance relates to the area as a whole.
* * The site is located within the Broads; there are more acceptable alternative sites for sand and gravel extraction proposed in the Plan in accordance with paragraph 205 (a) of the NPPF and there are not exceptional circumstances for mineral extraction at this site in accordance with paragraph 172 of the NPPF.

In regard to the Historic Environment the assessment states,
Historic environment: The historic landscape character of the site is 18th to 20th Century plantation woodland. The site is within a wider historic landscape character of 20th century agriculture with enclosure, boundary loss and boundary loss with a relict element; pastoral farming, and agriculture with 18th to 19th century piecemeal enclosure. The wider historic landscape character also includes modern built up areas of linear settlements, small farm clusters, nucleated clusters and urban development; and drained reclaimed enclosed land (rectilinear enclosure from 19th to 20th century). The wider historic landscape character also includes drained enclosed rectilinear grazing marsh (17th to 20th century enclosure), a historic earthwork, leisure/recreation, informal parkland, sea defences, saltings, a reservoir and woodland (18th to 19th century plantation woodland, carr woodland and regenerated alder carr woodland).
The nearest Listed Building is the Grade II* Drainage Pump which is 260m away. There are 20 Listed Buildings within 2km of the site. There are two locally listed heritage assets within the site, the remains of a WW2 firing range and a concrete railway bridge, although these are not within the proposed extraction areas. The nearest Scheduled Monument is St Olave's Priory, which is 390m away. There are 2 Scheduled Monuments within 2km of the site. Halvergate Marshes Conservation Area is adjacent to the site boundary and Haddiscoe Conservation Area is 330m from the site. There are no Registered Historic Parks and Gardens within 2km of the site. A planning application for mineral extraction at this site would need to include a Heritage Statement to identify heritage assets and their settings, assess the potential for impacts and identify appropriate mitigation measures if required.
Archaeology: This site could reveal nationally important remains for early and middle Pleistocene early human settlements in NW Europe, perhaps linking to finds at Norton Subcourse and Pakefield (in Suffolk). There are Historic Environment records of features in the site most of which are linked to a WW2 military site possibly a training site, within the site boundary. The proposer of the site has indicated two extraction areas within the wider site area; neither the local listed features (remains of a WW2 firing range, and a former railway bridge) are within these extraction areas. A number of undesignated heritage assets have been provisionally identified which may be linked to the WW2 training area. The site is currently a commercial forestry plantation within which felling operations take place, which involve the use of heavy vehicles and earth moving operations. These operations may have degraded the undesignated heritage assets, although good practice for tree felling operations states that archaeological features should be protected. Therefore, an assessment of the significance of archaeological deposits will be required at the planning application stage, in order to protect and mitigate the impact of mineral extraction in this site. However, the Norfolk Historic Environment Service have stated that they consider that no appropriate mitigation or modification of the site would be able to prevent harm to the undesignated heritage assets which as a whole make up the significance of the WW2 training area, of which few examples remain.
The final few sentences of the extract have been underlined because they clearly contradict one another. We believe that the site is able to be developed for quarrying purposes. Within the submission by Brett for the Call for Sites a detailed heritage appraisal was undertaken - a summary of the report is provided below:
Direct Impacts on Heritage Assets - The site is known to contain military structures dating from WWI and predominantly WWII. Some of these are solidly engineered in concrete, whilst the majority are understood to be of more flimsy construction making use of wood, chicken wire and corrugated iron.
The PAA may also retain earlier archaeology, in particular from the later prehistoric period.
In the past 5 years tree felling has occurred across approximately 60% of the proposed extraction areas. This has involved heavy machinery, including evidence of some ground reduction caused by the windrowing of the wastage. The damage caused to archaeology, both military and earlier, could not be quantified on the site visit, but it is considered that it could be significant.
Should this site be allocated, a thorough survey should be carried out using GPS and photography to create a catalogue of archaeology. Some archaeological evaluation may be required. This would allow an assessment of the distribution, form, condition and significance of all archaeology within the PAA.
Opportunities - Any future planning application would require a mitigation strategy to manage the archaeological resource. This would involve a combination of preservation in situ, excavation and recording.
The majority of the military structures identified in the 2009 survey by Warner and Wilby lie outside or on the periphery of the proposed extraction areas and preservation in situ of these outliers should be the objective.
These were only temporary structures and in time they will inevitably decay and collapse through natural processes. Excavation and recording of a selection of structure types within the extraction areas would be an important contribution to our understanding of how they were constructed and operated.
Consideration should be given to the consolidation of some of the military remains to ensure their preservation for the future. There is also potential to create an educational resource, based around any consolidated structures should the restoration concept permit, that would be an important public benefit.
This approach has been adopted elsewhere, for example at Binnegar Quarry, Dorset where an auxiliary bunker has been archaeologically excavated and the results will form the focus of a display in an on-site education centre recounting the history of the Auxiliary Units in Dorset
The Heritage Appraisal reaches the following conclusion:
"On current evidence, there are no overriding constraints to the allocation of this site and, from an archaeological and heritage perspective and subject to appropriate mitigation, the proposals provide opportunities for educational benefit and conform to national planning policy and guidance."
The current Consultation Documents produced by the County Council acknowledge that:
* * no local listed feature falls within the proposed extraction area;
* * the site is commercial forestry plantation within which felling operations take place, which involve the use of heavy vehicles and earth moving operations;
* * commercial forestry operation may have degraded the undesignated heritage assets;
* * further archaeological assessment work will be required.

The sites complete heritage significance is currently unknown. Some features which are recognised as having some historic significance (solid and brick built structures which are designated at local level) are excluded from any potential working scheme. Features which require further investigation relate to temporary structures used for an unknown purpose. They are not built of solid construction but a combination of wire, wooden posts and corrugated sheeting. None of which would survive long term and, as acknowledged, there is the potential they have already been damaged by commercial forestry activities.
A meeting took place with the County Council on 17th October 2019 to discuss the potential opportunity that could arise from a quarry development and mineral operator involvement to allow for proper archaeological assessment. Pending these investigations there is also opportunity through a considered restoration scheme for some acknowledgement and memorial to former military uses.
At the meeting held with the Norfolk Historic Environment Service it was acknowledged that it is difficult to say that, 'no appropriate mitigation or modification of the site would be able to prevent harm to the undesignated heritage assets which as a whole make up the significance of the WW2 training area, of which few examples remain', without further assessment to ascertain the significance of the asset. The Norfolk Historic Environment Service are going to liaise with the Company over the potential proportionate scope for further assessment work. This will likely include further desk based analysis and field work which the Company are prepared to consider.
In regard to Landscape Designations, the assessment states:
The site is not located within the AONB, or a Core River Valley. 43 hectares of the site are within the Broads Authority Executive Area, including one of the extraction areas, and part of the other; the NPPF states that local planning authorities should "as far as practicable, provide for the maintenance of landbanks of non-energy minerals from outside the Broads". The site is within the landscape character area described as 'Waveney Rural Wooded Valley' in the Great Yarmouth Borough Landscape Character Assessment. The Broads Authority Landscape Character Assessment classifies the part of the site within the Broads as outside the 'St Olaves to Burgh Castle' landscape character area. The proposal is that a screen of trees would be retained between the extraction areas and the 'St Olaves to Burgh Castle' landscape character area to the west and north of the site and protect long distance views.
The majority of the site comprises woodland, split between a larger area of conifer plantation, with remnant areas of heath, on the higher land and broadleaf woodland on the valley floor. An area of marshland/reedbed along the river edge is excluded from the proposed site. Expansive views of the afforested margins of the site can be seen across the marshes from the railway, the A149 and from the public rights of way along the Rivers Waveney and Yare and the New Cut. In addition, views of the edge of the conifer plantation can be seen from the edge of Fritton and New Road. The higher areas of the site within the coniferous plantations, generally the land to the south and east, would be screened by the retention of a screen of significant blocks of coniferous woodland with additional woodland planting.
The proposed haul route accesses the site from the south from the A143. Although there are highway verges with hedges and mature trees along the highway corridor, the bunding and screening of the haul route would need to be designed carefully to ensure that the impact on the setting of the Waveney Forest is acceptable and the tarmac surfacing of the road (necessary for dust suppression) would add an urbanising element to the landscape. However, with the removal of the road and removal of the screen bunds on restoration the impacts are considered acceptable in landscape terms.
A landscape and visual impact assessment of the proposed development from the wider Broads landscape would be required at any planning application stage. The landscape mitigation, restoration proposals and design approach would need to be informed by this assessment and by the relevant Landscape Character Assessments.
The NPPF (paragraph 172) advocates, 'great weight should be given to conserving and enhancing landscape and scenic beauty in National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty which have the highest status of protection in relation to these issues'. Although part of the site falls within the Broads Executive Area, the above landscape character descriptions appear to acknowledge that the site conflicts with the wider landscape character of the 'Broads' area. It is also likely that the Broads area boundary was established by the presence of the old railway line that cuts through the proposed site. This formed a logical boundary. Subsequent uses including woodland planting/forestry have further eroded the potential significance this specific area contributes to the wider landscape character. Existing landscape features also protect long distance views.
It is accepted that the NPPF (paragraph 205) seeks to maintain landbanks for minerals outside of these designated areas. However, as referred above, it is perceived that this area is not making an essential contribution to the landscape character. As such, temporary mineral extraction operations (screened by the presence of existing landscape features) are unlikely to cause significant harm to the designation. In addition, mineral extraction could facilitate restoration to uses more appropriate for this sites location situated within the Broads Executive Area.
The Sustainability Appraisal
We have some concerns with the Sustainability Appraisal scoring for land at Waveney Forest, Fritton:
SA1 - It is unclear why some sites score more positively than others when they are similar distances to main towns. Why has a score of '+' rather than '++' been given? The site is in close proximity to two urban areas / main towns, Great Yarmouth and Gorelston on Sea. As referred to above, the Plan is proposing a spatial strategy with preference for mineral sites located close to the likely markets they will serve.
SA5 - We have concerns that the evaluation within the SA is not taken forward to the assessment. Sites with known heritage interests in close proximity are proposed for allocation with no clear indication on mitigation. Further to our comments above, the proposals for Waveney Forest do not have any impact on any designated asset. There is no justification for a score of '- -' post extraction on the site. Brett have offered a restoration scheme that would build on the heritage interest in the area and provide beneficial opportunities. This has not been recognised in any of the assessment documents produced by the County Council to date.
SA8 - why has a '-' score been applied when it is acknowledged that there will be no impact upon any designated landscape and the existing woodland will screen the proposed development?
SA11 - a score of '++' should be applied due to the proximity of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston on Sea and the lack of other allocated sites in closer proximity.
The site is located approximately 9km from Great Yarmouth, the emerging Minerals and Waste Local Plan Review sets out a 'locational preference' to potential site allocations which are 'close and/ or well related' to the Great Yarmouth Urban Area. This is such a site and it is understood by the promoter to be the closest land-won aggregate site to Great Yarmouth with reserves throughout the Plan period. No other major sites are being taken forward as allocations within the Great Yarmouth area leading to increased haulage distance from other allocations/operations. Furthermore, there are no other major extraction operations within the immediate vicinity which would lead to consideration of cumulative effects. Land to the north of Welcome Pit, Burgh Castle has been promoted but has been considered unsuitable for allocation because the local road network is sub standard. Even if this site were considered suitable for allocation the reserve and annual tonnage are so small that they would not make a meaningful contribution to the landbank and year on year supply of aggregate to the local market.
The main impact of the proposals relates to heritage interest and potential for structures from WW2. These are predominantly temporary structures (for example constructed of timber, chicken wire, corrugated iron and sandbags) and that the cycle of forestry planting and felling will potentially have destroyed or significantly affected these remains. Mineral extraction offers an opportunity to survey, excavate and record, as well as consolidating and preserving archaeological artefacts in situ for future generations.
By adopting the approach preferred by Brett and the landowner, the site will be able to offer a net biodiversity gain creating ecological habitats that are more in keeping with the local environment including woodland, wetland / wet woodland on restoration. In addition to long term habitat creation and protection, wider benefits will be derived from the development through comprehensive restoration including opportunities for public access and interpretation of heritage assets.
The public benefit derived from these proposals outweigh the potential damage, as set out in NPPF.
It is therefore submitted that the site represents an ideal opportunity for allocation for sand and gravel extraction as part of the Norfolk Minerals and Waste Local Plan Review.
I trust that the above comments are helpful. Should you have any queries or wish to discuss any of the points raised in more detail, please do not hesitate to contact us.