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Safeguarding of mineral supply a priority

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World Cement,

Minerals are the biggest material flow in the UK economy. It is therefore essential to safeguard them and their means of supply, so that they can be supplied responsibly in years to come in a way that supports sustainable development.

Unfortunately, evidence shows that the safeguarding of mineral resources and related infrastructure, such as wharves and rail depots, is not being properly applied due to a lack of clear, strong and consistent planning policies coupled with a lack of staff and skills in planning departments.

Safeguarding was one of the main topics at the May 2015 RTPI/MPA Mineral Planning Conference. Discussions agreed that safeguarding of mineral interests is not happening properly. A widespread lack of strong and clear plan policies and staff resources within planning authorities was agreed to be the main cause.

The attention of the European Commission has been drawn to mineral safeguarding because of a growing concern about the security of supply of minerals throughout the EU. The MINATURA project has just started and one of the objectives is to assess the effectiveness of policy and mechanisms in member states in preventing minerals and associated infrastructure being unnecessarily sterilised by other development.

Most other natural resources are covered by some form of statutory protection in the UK. The MPA view is that maybe the only way that the protection of mineral resources will be given equal status to the other matters that are afforded “great weight” by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is to make mineral safeguarding a statutory duty as well. All that would then be needed to ensure effective safeguarding happens is for mineral planning authorities to be adequately resourced to take on that statutory role.

Adapted from press release by Joseph Green

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