The extension in question would encroach into a buffer zone to a world heritage site (WHS), a historic garden and a landscaped area. Other designated areas also surrounded the appeal site including SSSIs, national nature reserves, a conservation area and a special landscape areas. The reporter concluded that both extensions would help overcome an identified shortfall in the minerals landbank while avoiding harm to any of the designated sites.
In dismissing one extension, ministers found aspects of harm relating to most of the detailed impacts covered by the reporter, including the integrity of the WHS, the integrity and character of the designed landscape, the settings of listed buildings, the appearance and character of the conservation area and the quality of special landscape areas. They also disagreed that a proposed restoration plan would be acceptable.
Ministers afforded different weights to the benefits and adverse impacts identified. They considered that the nature and extent of one proposed extension’s physical impact upon these sensitive areas was unacceptable and not in compliance with the development plan. They concluded that although the proposal would contribute to increasing the available reserve of minerals and to economic growth, these benefits would not outweigh the identified adverse impacts.
In their view, the extension would serve a regional rather than a nationally important market, so there was no overriding need for minerals extraction within the sensitive extension area. They also disagreed with the reporter in finding that any impact, temporary or otherwise, on the WHS buffer zone and designed landscape affected the character of the site as a whole and could not be overcome through the restoration measures proposed.
Reporter: Allison Coard; Public Examination