EXTRACT from the Planning Officers Society - Minerals and Waste Forum response:
1. Minerals planning aims to provide a framework for meeting the nation's need for minerals sustainably, by adopting an integrated policy approach to considering the social, environmental and economic factors of doing so and securing avoidance or appropriate mitigation of environmental impacts where extraction takes place.
2. Quarrying and other means of mineral supply are essential activities and the supply of aggregates for construction and development is essential to the economic and social well being of the nation. But they are not welcome neighbours. Quarrying in particular can have major impacts on communities and the natural environment, including significant landscape change. A planning system is therefore needed to ensure the delivery of an adequate and steady supply of minerals to meet the needs of society at acceptable environmental cost. Planning can be seen as part of the 'licence to operate', which the minerals industry recognises is part of their social duty.
3. Planning for minerals is an issue of more than local importance. It has been clearly recognised by successive governments that planning for minerals is different from other forms of development. Aggregate minerals are finite resources that can only be worked where they occur; they are resources that need to be managed in a sustainable way. Where mineral is needed and where it occurs is often in different locations, which can be a considerable distance apart, and aggregates often need to be transported across local authority boundaries from quarry to market. Planning for aggregates supply therefore requires a strategic dimension; there is a strategic balance to be made to ensure that supplies in one part of the country are secured to meet economic needs in another part, and a strategic input needs to be incorporated into decision making by mineral planning authorities. In the absence of advice on the strategic context, planning authorities may make uninformed decisions, and local decisions may have wider adverse implications - for the supply of minerals and for communities elsewhere.
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