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Plan-led mineral planning system not working

THE Mineral Products Association (MPA) says its assessment of the operation of the ‘plan-led’ elements of the mineral planning system indicates that it is simply not delivering, making it difficult for mineral operators to plan for the future.

Under the ‘plan-led’ system, which was introduced in 2004 in order to improve operation and certainty for all interested parties, local authorities with minerals responsibilities should have produced new Mineral Development Frameworks by the end of 2007.

In practice, however, 81% of mineral planning authorities in England have yet to produce the first substantive part of these Frameworks, Mineral Core Strategies, with no imminent completion date in prospect.


The MPA says this failure to deliver means that the majority of mineral planning authorities are operating with out-of-date plans, providing mineral operators with little confidence and even less certainty about the operation of the system.

With annual replenishment rates for aggregates typically around 60%, this raises the prospects of localized supply shortfalls over the longer term, says the MPA.

It adds that this situation is being exacerbated by what appears to be an inconsistent approach by the planning inspectorate with regard to the interpretation and application of national mineral planning policy.

The net result, it says, is an increasingly slow and hugely uncertain plan-making process in which allocations of land for mineral extraction are becoming increasingly difficult to secure.

Commenting on the assessment’s findings, Nigel Jackson, chief executive officer of the MPA, said the ‘plan-led’ system in England was no longer fit for purpose and had failed to deliver the certainty that was promised.

‘The process is characterized by excessive delays, which are making it increasingly difficult for mineral operators to plan for the future,’ he explained.

‘With no improvement in sight, the only solution is a comprehensive and independent review to identify how planning can function in a reasonable and timely manner to enable the minerals industry to meet the future demands of the economy and the construction industry.’


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