Developer's own requirements for sand not a local need

A temporary sand and gravel quarry with final restoration in Argyll, Scotland was refused for conflict with the development plan on lack of locationally specific need for the minerals and harm to the glacial valley's panoramic quality.

Two of the issues of contention related to whether the quarry was justified on the basis of exceptional local need and its landscape and visual impacts. The site comprised 5.35 hectares of grazing land in a glacial valley and it was proposed that 83,000 tonnes of sand and gravel would be extracted over about three hectares for a period of five years.

Local need was defined in the adopted local plan policy as being for the predominant use of the minerals extracted to be within a 30-mile radius of the extraction site. The site was also in a policy area zone where exceptional need had to be demonstrated.

The appellants had indicated they needed the sand and gravel to serve their own ready-mix concrete plant nearby, but the reporter held that serving the developer’s own demand did not amount to a locational or operational need tied to a precise location, as per the policy requirement. In addition, she found from the evidence that there was sufficient provision of sand and gravel from other local extraction sites to serve need for the next ten years and an economic or community need for the minerals was not evidenced.

The reporter also found the proposal would detract from the special scenic qualities of this area of panoramic quality even on a temporary basis and that the design of the scheme was not of the highest standard expected regarding design, landscaping and detailing with particular reference to an unnatural looking replacement water feature. Finally, no detailed assessment of the economic benefits of the scheme were submitted to consider whether it would fulfil national minerals policy requirements instead. 

An award of costs against the council was refused by the reporter who felt the council had acted reasonably in assessing the policy implications of the proposal.

Reporter: Lorna McCallum; Written representations

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