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Fri May 27 2022

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Bill seeks to impose new controls on quarries

2 Dec 21 A Labour MP has introduced draft legislation in the House of Commons to put further controls on where quarries can be set up.

Matt Western, MP for Warwick & Leamington, has presented a bill to introduce a presumption in planning decision-making against approving quarry developments anywhere near where people live.

He is also proposing additional measures for health and environmental risks to be assessed as part of the planning process; and measures to tackle issues around using former quarries for waste disposal.

He told colleagues: “Across the land, a great many communities face the prospect of permission being granted for quarries that will not just blight their areas but bring significant risks to human health, while at the same time being, in certain cases, surplus to requirement. As I aim to make clear, a local planning application in my constituency—specifically, in relation to a proposed sand and gravel quarrying site near the villages of Barford and Wasperton – demonstrates the point. It is the issue that originated the community campaign and has motivated me to stand here today and push for a change in the law.”

The bill was read for the first time in the House of Commons on 1st December. Second reading is scheduled for Friday 28th January 2022.

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The Mineral Products Association(MPA), which represents quarrying companies, is against the idea. It says that there are already plenty of checks and balances in the current system. Proposals for any new mineral extraction undergo thorough environmental assessments which including any potential for health issues.

It says any additional burdens to opening quarries would generate a further shortfall in planning consents. MPA data shows that Britain’s mineral replenishment rates from new planning consents continues to fall behind mineral consumption rates. Between 2008 and 2019 only 75% of crushed rock permitted reserves were replenished and just 63% of sand and gravel reserves. The MPA says that this is not sustainable and we should not take for granted that construction minerals will always be available.

MPA director of public affairs at MPA Robert McIlveen said: “Mineral developments are already, and quite rightly, subject to stringent controls and conditions regulated by the local planning authority, the Environment Agency, environmental health officials and Health & Safety Executive. Through these measures any potential environmental and health concerns are addressed in the management and control of quarry activities.

“The mineral products industry needs efficient and effective planning and permitting processes that enable the right quarries to be opened in the right places. This helps to ensure the country has the local and sustainably sourced materials it needs for infrastructure, housing and manufacturing, while at the same time taking account of environmental issues and the expectations of local communities.”

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