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Northern Ireland mining and quarry planning regulations

As of 10 March, new planning rules will come into place for mines and quarries in Northern Ireland. Under the new regulations, planning application will not be required for certain types of minor developments, such as the installation, alteration or replacement of buildings, plant and equipment and the provision of internal lanes and roadways within existing quarry and mining sites.

“These changes will be a boost for the quarry industry. I want to do what I can to support this industry which provides employment often in rural areas and produces a wide range of products for use in construction, agriculture and industry,” said Environment Minister Mark H. Durkan.

“At the same time these new rules strike an essential balance by freeing up quarry and mine owners to undertake some minor development whilst putting in place limitations and conditions to ensure that neighbours and the wider environment are protected. This is a common sense approach to planning. Removing the need for planning permission for smaller scale development frees up planning staff to focus on those applications that need more detailed examination. A faster, fairer and fit for purpose planning system all provides opportunities to help industry and boost the economy.”

Commenting on the announcement, Regional Director of the Quarry Products Association Northern Ireland, Gordon Best, stated: “This announcement is very welcome and shows that the Minister and his senior officials do listen and do positively engage with our industry. The extension of permitted development rights for certain types of minor development brings our industry into line with the rest of the United Kingdom. The types of development that will now not require planning permission will be those which will have no environmental, visual or community impact but on the contrary, will enhance the environmental and health and safety performance of the quarry. This decision is a real boost to the sector.”

Key facts from the Quarry Products Association Northern Ireland

  • There are approximately 160 quarries and sand pits in Northern Ireland.
  • Aggregates demand is estimated at 24 million tpa.
  • The quarry products industry employs some 5600 people.
  • The construction sector contributes around 10% of Northern Ireland’s GDP.
  • The quarry industry has a turnover of around £400 million (1.75% of Northern Ireland’s GDP).

UK construction output

The Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index® indicates that job creation within the sector reached a three-month high in February 2014. Adjusted for seasonal factors, the Index posted 62.6 in February compared to 64.6 in January. The decline has been attributed to poor weather, which impacted construction output growth, particularly house building activity.

Construction companies saw a steep increase in new work, although the pace of growth slowed. Civil engineering activity expanded the most during the month, while commercial activity growth began to slow down. Residential construction activity also increased but the expansion was at the slowest rate for four months.

“Bad weather took a bite out of progress in house building, but UK construction remains on a strong growth trajectory in February. The sector was fuelled by the strongest rise in civil engineering activity in the survey’s history, as an increase in spending was recorded on investment and infrastructure projects in response to recent flooding. Even though both housing and commercial activity suffered a slide in pace of growth in February, the overall performance was one of continued expansion,” said David Noble, Chief Executive Officer at the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply.

“Rising employment and highly positive business expectations also suggest that the slowdown will only be temporary. Backed by favourable market conditions, firms are continuing to increase staff numbers, hitting a three-month high this month,” he added.

Edited from various sources by

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