Sites and Policies Plan Consultation Draft

Comment ID 928833//3
Document Section Sites and Policies Plan Consultation Draft Living within Environmental Limits DM17-18 View all on this section
Respondent Coal Authority View all by this respondent
Response Date 04 Apr 2013

Policy DM18: Identification of Minerals Safeguarding Area for carboniferous limestone

Test of Soundness

Positively Prepared - no

Justified - no

Effective - no

Consistency to NPPF - no


Legal & Procedural Requirements Inc. Duty to Cooperate - no


Objection –This policy only seeks to safeguard carboniferous limestone within a Mineral Safeguarding Area (MSA). This is considered to represent a policy omission and other mineral resources including surface coal should also be safeguarded.

Surface coal is referred to in Policy CS8 of the Core Strategy which sets the overall policy framework for mineral safeguarding, however this has not been implemented through policy DM18.

The NPPF in paragraphs 143 and 144 make it clear that the prevention of mineral sterilisation and the encouragement of prior extraction are key planning objectives which MPAs and LPAs should deliver.

The third bullet point of paragraph 143 of the NPPF makes it clear that MSAs should be defined for mineral resources of ‘local and national importance’. The NPPF defines a list of these minerals of local and national importance, which includes a long list of minerals including shallow and deep mined coal. Policy DM18 is not in conformity with the NPPF in that it does not identify an MSA for surface coal resources.

In addition this approach is inconsistent with the approach taken in neighbouring areas such as the City of Bristol and in other parts of the England coalfield. North Somerset have not demonstrated any locally distinctive circumstances as to why a different approach is relevant in North Somerset to the rest of the coalfield. As such the policy is fundamentally unsound , on the basis that the policy has not been positively prepared having regard to Policy CS3 of the Core Strategy, the policy is not justified nor effective, it is fundamentally inconsistent to the NPPF without justification and the approach shows a failure of the duty to co-operate with other MPAs across the overall surface coal resource.

For the reasons set out above, The Coal Authority considers that the surface coal resource areas within North Somerset should be safeguarded which through the Core Strategy we believed the Council appeared to have accepted. The main evidence base for this process should be the Surface Coal Resource Plan which is available free of charge from The Coal Authority.

The Surface Coal Resource Plan has been developed jointly with British Geological Survey and surface mining operators specifically for use within the planning process. As such, it represents the best available geological and mineral resource information for the area, as required by the best practice advice set out in the 2011 BGS/The Coal Authority Guide to Mineral Safeguarding in England. The Plan does not follow the methodology of this advice which represents the industry led advice in line with the overall Government objectives towards the provision of good practice guidance.

Had it appeared at the Core Strategy stage that the Council intended not to follow through on identifying an MSA for coal then The Coal Authority would have objected to the soundness of the Core Strategy.

Change Requested – The Coal Authority would wish to see the policy amended as follows:

“Planning permission will not be granted for development within Mineral Safeguarding Areas (MSAs) for carboniferous limestone and surface coal shown on the Policies Proposals Map that is incompatible with safeguarding the mineral unless:

it is exempt development; or

Protecting the public and the environment in coal mining areas

the applicant can demonstrate that:

i) the mineral concerned is not worthy of safeguarding;

ii) the development is temporary and would be completed and removed and the site restored to a condition that does not inhibit extraction of the mineral within the timescale that the mineral is likely to be needed; or

iii) there is an overriding need for the development.

Where consent is to be granted prior extraction of the mineral will be encouraged where practicable and environmentally acceptable.”

The Coal Authority would wish to see the Policies Map amended to illustrate the MSA for surface coal, based on the entire surface coal resource within North Somerset

Reason – To comply with National Planning Policy set out in paragraphs 143 and 144 of the NPPF with regard to mineral safeguarding.