Agenda item

Norfolk Minerals and Waste Development Framework - Draft Core Strategy and Policies - Issues and Options May 2007 (Agenda Item 7)

Report of the Operations Manager (Environment)

Minutes:

The Principal Planning Officer presented the report, which summarised details of the content of the recent draft Norfolk Minerals and Waste Development Framework (NMWDF) prepared by the County Council and the subject of consultation.  As the Local Planning Authority, it was important that Breckland Council was aware of the County’s plans for minerals and waste and how this affected Breckland’s LDF Strategy, policies and sites.

 

The NMWDF was due to be adopted by April 2009.  The NMWDF had two functions: (1) to plan for how much waste was produced in the County and how it was dealt with, and (2) how much mineral extraction was needed to meet the scale of proposed growth (both in terms of population growth and new homes and infrastructure). Like the Breckland LDF, the County NMWDF would include a separate Site Specifics document outlining the proposed sites for mineral extraction and waste processing and a draft of this document was due in spring 2008.

 

Key issues highlighted in the NMWDF were:

 

  • Ensuring sufficient and adequate provision of minerals and waste
  • Reduce the transport impact of minerals and waste
  • Protect the environment
  • Reduce climate gases arising from minerals and waste developments
  • Promote employment in minerals and waste
  • Reduce health impacts from minerals and waste

 

Strategy options were:

 

  • Focus minerals and waste development to regional centres (Norwich, King’s Lynn, Great Yarmouth and Thetford)

  • A more decentralised option where other towns in Norfolk would accommodate waste facilities and mineral supply depots

  • A localised option, where villages would also form part of the hierarchy and could accommodate local facilities for waste and minerals

 

So far as minerals were concerned, the supply in Norfolk was varied.  National and regional policy expected local authorities to maximise the use of recycled aggregates in building products.  The County Council’s preferred way forward for minerals included:

 

-          Ensure the County land bank for minerals was above the national requirement

-          Require greater use of recycled aggregates in developments

-          To ensure minerals are extracted place no restriction on the size of mineral development approval

 

In addressing waste, the NMWDF proposed to:

 

-          Require developer contributions from waste proposals towards local waste minimisation schemes

-          Encourage waste recovery methods dependent on their carbon footprint

-          Encourage energy from waste (anaerobic digestion, landfill gas, thermal treatment)

-          Only allow for new landfill where capacity fell below a certain threshold

 

So far as transport issues were concerned, the NMWDF proposed to reduce demand for travel by

 

-          Allocating minerals and waste sites close to the markets they would primarily serve

-          Giving priority to sites that had the most potential to enable the use of rail and water-borne freight

-          Avoiding minerals and waste developments where road safety and road width (less than 6.1m) were known issues and giving priority to sites that accessed directly on to the designated HGV route hierarchy

 

With regard to the environment, the County Council was proposing that the balance between environmental protection and the need for mineral and waste development in Norfolk could be achieved as follows:

 

  • Avoid SSSIs unless there was overriding public interest
  • Avoid regional and local sites of nature conservation/geological value unless the benefits of development clearly outweighed the impact
  • Do not permit development that would lead to loss of Biodiversity Action Plan habitat or species
  • Development would not be permitted in core river valleys (not defined)
  • Development would not be permitted on Grade 1, 2 and 3a agricultural land
  • Restoration of sites would give priority to biodiversity and landscape enhancement and the creation of ecological networks

 

An analysis and suggested response to the draft NMWDF was given in Section 6 of the officer’s report.  In summary, the views were as follows:

 

Minerals

 

a)     To support the County Council’s option for a more decentralised approach to mineral development, having particular regard to the proposed scale of growth in Breckland, with particular reference to Thetford, Attleborough and Dereham. 

b)     Given the finite amount of developable land available for Thetford, primary mineral extraction close to Thetford would potentially limit the expansion of the town and undermine the Growth Point Status and objective to accelerate housing growth at a sustainable location.  The NMWDF needed to recognise this issue.

c)      The vernacular in Breckland was sustained by many local minerals, including flint, chalk and carrstone, some of which were still extracted in Breckland and it was important that future supplies of these materials were recognised and protected in the NMWDF.

 

Waste

 

a)     Noting the need for further capacity and solutions for Thetford and for the Dereham area.  On this basis, Breckland would support the County Council’s option of a more decentralised approach to waste developments.

b)     Support the options for the proposed waste hierarchy, although more consideration needs to be given to the environmental impact around the thermal treatment of waste.  Proposals to reduce landfill and the transportation of waste out of the County should be supported provided there is no net increase in the carbon footprint.

c)      The NMWLDF needed to reflect the role of rural areas as part of the strategy for minerals and waste.  In Breckland, parts of isolated former airfields have accommodated minerals developments (aggregate recycling) and waste transfer and sorting operations.  The relative remoteness of these sites avoided direct conflict with local communities, although the access to these sites required careful consideration.  Additionally, the NMWDF should give greater support to the potential of suitably located agricultural buildings for waste and minerals purposes.

 

Environment

 

a)     The strong emphasis on environmental protection is supported given the significant number of SSSI and local wildlife sites in Breckland.  The presence of a large number of international nature conservation sites in Breckland needed to be noted in the NMWDF and addressed through Appropriate Assessment.  With regard to river valleys and bearing in mind that a number in Breckland had already been exploited for minerals development, Breckland should strongly support that all river valleys in Breckland are identified as core river valleys and given appropriate protection.  This would include the Wensum, Wissey, Nar, Yare, Thet and Little Ouse valleys.

b)     It was noted that the document did not address the issue of nuclear waste.   The Panel noted the officers’ comments and agreed that the County Council should be asked if it was intended to address the matter in the NMWDF.

 

         RESOLVED that the report be noted and the analysis as set out in section 6 of the report form the basis of the Council’s response to the draft Norfolk Minerals and Waste Local Development Framework Issues and Options document.

Supporting documents: