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Proposed new planning fees will hit mineral industry hard

CHANGES to the system for setting planning application fees proposed in a government consultation document published last week, could have serious implications for mineral operators, says the Minerals Products Association (MPA).

The Government believes the current fixed-fee system does not allow planning authorities to recover the full cost of dealing with planning applications and is therefore proposing that authorities are given power to set their own fees, rather than using a fixed scale of charges set by government. It also believes that some types of application that currently do not attract a fee should do so in the future.

Commenting on the Government’s proposals, MPA executive director Simon van der Byl said mineral planning costs are already much higher than for most other forms of development, with the industry having to pay some of the highest planning application fees in the country.

‘Authorities demand fees today of up to £65,000; that is on top of the very high cost of our applications relative to most other forms of development and takes no account of the increasing costs of pre-application discussions, EIA and archaeological investigations,’ he said.

‘A fee increase now, and one that could be very substantial, is another cost burden that we can ill afford when so many of our companies are still struggling to survive, having lost around 30% of their business in recent years.’

Mr van der Byl believes that the potential impact on the minerals industry has not been properly considered by the Government, and says the report which seems to have been used as the basis for the Government proposal, focuses primarily on built development.

‘The report acknowledges that others pay planning fees which are, on average, less than £1,000, but mineral operators pay tens of thousands of pounds per application. In addition, they must pay monitoring fees each year and prepare high-cost review submissions every 15 years.

‘If a new fee is introduced now for mineral reviews, which are currently exempt from charges because they are essentially for the public benefit, it will have serious implications for the mineral products industry,’ said Mr van der Byl.

The consultation period runs until 7 January 2011. If accepted and approved by government, the fee changes would be implemented from April 2011, with a six-month transition period until October 2011.


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