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Industry approval for National Planning Policy Framework

MPA welcomes balanced NPPF but says focus must now be on urgent delivery of Local Plans

THE Mineral Products Association (MPA) has welcomed the newly published National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which, if implemented as intended, could help drive development and growth in the economy while taking full account of the need to protect the environment.

According to the Association, the combination of the new presumption in favour of sustainable development and the need for local planning authorities to produce plans in the next 12 months, should overcome current planning inertia and give developers greater certainty and clarity to invest.

‘We believe the new approach to managing the supply of essential minerals, particularly aggregates, strikes a reasonable balance between adopting a more localist perspective, while ensuring this takes place within a national policy framework,’ said Nigel Jackson, chief executive of the MPA. ‘However, for this approach to function effectively, the focus must now be on local delivery of much needed plans, particularly with less than 40% of core strategies currently required in place.

‘It is heartening to see recognition of the need for essential minerals as a strategic issue both nationally and locally, and the great weight that needs to be given to the benefits of mineral extraction, including to the economy. This has been a central message of the MPA and we are pleased that government has taken our views into account and acted.’

Mr Jackson added: ‘We are also pleased that critical technical guidance has been retained, as well as the landbank policies relating to industrial minerals, such as cement and silica sand. Recognition of the MPA Restoration Guarantee Fund is an added assurance to local authorities with regard to restoration.’

Echoing the MPA’s sentiments, Terry Last, chief executive of Tarmac, said there was much to like in the NPPF for those in the aggregates and minerals sector, and the construction supply chain as a whole.

‘I welcome the NPPF’s guidance that there must be a sufficient supply of material to provide the infrastructure and buildings the country needs, and that when determining planning applications, local planning authorities must ‘give great weight to the benefits of mineral extraction, including to the economy’,’ said Mr Last.

‘It is not just a question of current supply, but planning ahead. I am heartened, therefore, that the NPPF requires all minerals planning authorities to define Minerals Safeguarding Areas and to prepare an annual local aggregate assessment to plan for a steady and adequate supply of aggregates.’

Mr Last believes that these measures, combined with others to protect the environment and encourage collaboration between authorities on minerals provision, make for a framework which seems sound and appropriate.

‘The test now,’ he said, ‘will be how the framework is applied in practice as new infrastructure is driven forward and we focus our minds on how to meet increased demand for minerals as we emerge from the downturn.’


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