DC Casebook: Mineral Development - Fallback position held material at quarry

Permission has been granted for the extraction of sand and sandstone from land in the Merseyside green belt after an inspector decided that an extant approval is an important material consideration.

Although there had been no significant extraction since 2002, the consent for the 40ha site remained extant to 2015. In 1999 and 2002, the council issued enforcement notices claiming that the method of working did not accord with the permission because the reserves were being mined to a greater depth.

A subsequent application proposing to work parts of the quarry to a greater depth and restore it with inert materials was refused in 2007. The council accepted that the 1990 consent remained capable of implementation and that ground levels could be raised in line with the notices by using materials in the quarry. The appellants indicated that this would happen if the appeal failed.

The parties agreed that the appeal proposal offered a superior restoration scheme. The approved scheme would result in an alien landform, the land quality would be poor due to inadequate drainage and mineral deposits 20m below ground would be sterilised, the inspector observed. The appeal proposal involved extraction over a much smaller area and would retain productive agricultural land, he noted. He weighed these benefits against the fact that the quarry would operate ten years longer than under the approved scheme.

Since there was an established need for the minerals, the main issue was the impact on local residents' amenity. The council claimed that vehicle emissions and fine dust particles would adversely affect residents. The inspector was satisfied that the appellants had demonstrated that any such increases would fall within the UK air quality strategy. Residents' perceptions that they would be harmed by the scheme were not substantiated by the available evidence, he concluded.

DCS Number 100-064-526

Inspector Lloyd Rodgers; Inquiry

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