Standing Advice: Mineral and Waste Safeguarding
Staffordshire County Council is the Minerals and Waste Planning Authority (MWPA) for the whole of Staffordshire, except for the City of Stoke-on-Trent and that part of Staffordshire within the Peak District National Park. The policies contained in the Minerals Local Plan for Staffordshire (2015-2030) and the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Waste Local Plan (2010 to 2026) form part of the Development Plans for each of the District and Borough Councils within the County.
A key role of the Minerals Local Plan and the Waste Local Plan is to ensure that significant mineral resources, mineral infrastructure sites and waste management facilities are not constrained by other forms of development in their vicinity. Policy 3 of the Minerals Local Plan and Policy 2.5 of the Waste Local Plan set out how this should be achieved, and Local Planning Authorities should consult the MWPA when processing any planning applications that may have implications for mineral and waste planning interests.
This document provides a step-by-step guide to help local planners to decide when to consult the MWPA.
Step 1: What kind of application is it?
Certain categories of application are exempt from minerals safeguarding policies because they are very unlikely to have an impact on any underlying minerals, or because the principle of the development has already been approved. The full list and exact wording of exemptions is set out in Table 7 of Appendix 6 to the Minerals Local Plan, but the categories are summarised below:
- Application for householder development.
- Application for advertisement consent.
- Application for reserved matters after outline consent has been granted.
- Prior notification (telecoms, forestry, agriculture, demolition).
- Certificates of Lawfulness of Existing Use or Development (CLEUD) and Certificates of Lawfulness of Proposed Use or Development (CLOPUD).
- Application for works to trees.
- Application for temporary planning permission.
- Application for listed building consent.
- Application for alterations and extensions to existing buildings or for change of use of existing development.
- Application for non-compliance with conditions and those conditions are unrelated to mineral development.
- Application related to a site already allocated in the Development Plan.
If the application falls into one of these categories, you will not need to consult the MWPA.
Step 2: Where would the proposed development take place?
As the MWPA, we are only interested in planning proposals which are:
- Within or partially within one or more Mineral Safeguarding Areas (MSA); or,
- In the vicinity of:
- a permitted mineral site or safeguarded mineral infrastructure site
- a safeguarded waste management facility
- any other permitted waste management facilities.
We have shared these locations with Local Planning Authorities, in the form of GIS layers. The information can also be viewed via our Mapping Portal. Please contact us if you need help to access the information.
If the application site is not located in or near at least one of the locations set out above, you will not need to consult the MWPA.
Commentary: We do not define proximity in terms of exact distances. The question that we have to answer is whether the development will compromise existing mineral or waste operations, or restrict their ability to expand in the future. Development, particularly residential development, can have a direct impact by building on land where a mineral or waste site might expand, or indirect impacts by moving residents into an area where they might be affected by the noise, dust, odour, or vehicle movements from existing operations, and find them unacceptable.
We may seek further information to help our decision, or make a “Holding Objection”, specifying issues that need to be resolved, typically to the satisfaction of the local Environmental Health Officer before our objection is lifted.
Note (New - May 2023):Since the adoption of the Minerals Local Plan for Staffordshire, there has been a significant change in the Coal Authority’s approach to safeguarding coal as a mineral resource. Further to the new approach by their Executive Leadership Team in January 2021, the Coal Authority will no longer seek consideration of prior extraction when commenting on planning applications for sites where surface coal is present. In addition, the Coal Authority will no longer seek to ensure that Development Plans include policies to safeguard the surface coal resource or promote its extraction, unless this is necessary in the interests of land stability.
Local Planning Authorities need not consult the MWPA when planning applications fall within the MSA for Shallow Coal and Fireclay if there are no other mineral or waste related constraints.
Step 3: Are there any other circumstances to take into account?
Applications that fall within the development boundary of urban areas and rural settlements identified in an adopted development plan document are exempt from mineral safeguarding requirements within most MSAs, unless they are also within a ‘safeguarded mineral infrastructure site zone’.
Applications for major developments that fall within the coal and fireclay MSAs do not benefit from the same exemption, but the Coal Authority’s approach to safeguarding shallow coal resources has changed since the Minerals Local Plan was prepared, so we would no longer seek to safeguard these resources.
Commentary: Beyond these exemptions, we need to consider how feasible it would be for any underlying mineral to be extracted. For larger sites (“major development”), we may require a mineral safeguarding assessment to be submitted. This should assess the quantity, the quality and the value of the underlying or adjacent mineral resource, and the practicality of extracting the resource prior to the development taking place.
Where application sites are small, and constrained by existing development, particularly residential development, we would conclude that it is not practicable or environmentally acceptable to extract any underlying mineral (note that we would need to consider such an application if the proposed residential property is located within a ‘safeguarded mineral infrastructure site zone’).
Development that is temporary or easily removed, and involves minimal disturbance of the ground, such as poly tunnels, caravan parks, solar panels, or battery storage facilities, is unlikely to create a significant safeguarding issue, though it is not formally exempt. The MWPA will rely on this standing advice in relation to these types of development proposals and no specific comments would be provided.
(Standing Advice dated May 2023).