Heads up folks – here’s one I overlooked, but there’s still time to act as responses to the Sandhills Quarry inclusion in the Staffordshire New Minerals Local Plan closes on Friday 5th December 2014 – but it’s easy to respond online, and you can do it right now.
This is not a clear cut issue, so bear with me. Every council has to form several new local planning development policy documents by law. Last year, there was a bit of manufactured alarmism over the development plan for Walsall which was very similar in nature to this one, and had to consider a suggested development at Lanes Farm, Shire Oak.
Staffordshire County Council are currently consulting on a development plan for mineral extraction within the county. In this plan – which is a policy document – sites in which plans for such activity will be looked at favourably by later planning process are decided.
There will probably be pre-existing sites which the Authority will outline, but part of the process involves the compulsory opening to suggestion by anyone interested of any site at all. The Council then has to consider whether these additionally suggested sites will be included in the plan. If a site is suggested, and denied listing on the final plan, mineral extraction, quarrying or related activities will not be treated preferentially there, and most like be denied in any future application as non compliant with the plan.
One such site is at Sandhills, just on the south and east of Shire Oak. The former Hoveringham Quarry behind the Golds Garage is currently undergoing landfill with inert, pulverised rubble, due to finish in 2019, and is currently being operated by JPE.
JPE have proposed the expansion of the site into two areas – one immediately behind the houses at Sandhills and one on the east side towards Stonnall.
Note that this is not a planning application, it’s not been approved and there’s no actual intention yet – this is purely a request by JPE to Staffordshire County Council for inclusion of the sites marked to be preferential in future applications – during which a separate planning process would still have to happen.
There was a huge fuss earlier in the process when Tarmac LaFarge suggested the inclusion of the valuable and ecologically important Hopwas Hayes Wood. Unusually, this was withdrawn before consideration after public outrage.Sadly, many news sources reported this as a definite planning application (which it wasn’t) and completely misreported the process. This has had the effect of dulling reaction of other applications for consideration, including one that would otherwise have caused outrage at nearby Hints Quarry.
A cynic may well suggest that was the intention all along.
It’s very much worthwhile objecting to the Sandhills application now; if Sandhills is not included in the finalMinerals Local Plan for Staffordshire, expansion of the quarry is highly unlikely to happen in future.
The letter sent to nearby residents says the following:
I am writing to you because developers have recently submitted a site option situated near to where you live at Shire Oak Quarry (see plan overleaf), for consideration in the preparation of the new Minerals Local Plan.
The new Minerals Local Plan for Staffordshire will provide policies to be used in deciding planning applications for mineral development and will identify suitable land for mineral working. The County Council has recently consulted on a draft Minerals Local Plan and in response, developers have proposed the site option at Shire Oak Quarry for inclusion in the Plan.
We want to ensure that information about the additional site options are made available to local residents and invite you to send your comments on the site options before the County Council prepares its final draft of the new Minerals Local Plan. For more information about the site options, please refer to www.staffordshire.gov.uk/planning and use the link to our ‘Consultation Portal’.
Comments can be submitted directly by using the online survey form or alternatively you can send your comments via email or post using the above contact details. Please note that you can use IT facilities free of charge in the reception area of Staffordshire Place, and at local libraries.
We would be pleased to receive your comments by Friday, 5 December 2014.
Team Leader- Minerals Planning Policy