Copy link to contribution 5 to clipboard Copy link The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme Mrs.
Golding made a powerful but rather prickly speech, but I congratulate her on the speed with which she has managed to raise this matter in the House. The decision on the High lane site was issued on 31 March, and, as the hon. Lady said, she raised the matter with my hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment, Countryside and Planning at Question Time on 1 April, and now we are having an Adjournment debate upon it—all in the space of 10 days.
I am sure that the House will appreciate that I am unable to comment on iingdom merits of a particular planning decision. Once a decision has been given on an appeal Women want sex Bingen called-in application, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has no further jurisdiction in the matter, and he cannot reopen it to consider any further representations or complaints that he may receive.
Any person who is aggrieved by a decision on appeal and wishes to question the validity of the decision may make an application to the High Court within six weeks from the date of the decision.
The decision on the High lane site was made only 10 days ago, so it would be doubly inappropriate for me to make any comment on the merits. However, as we have heard, the hon. Lady is concerned primarily with opencast coal sites in her constituency and the effect that they have. I hope that in the time that is available to me I can offer some general reassurance.
There are two British Coal opencast sites currently in operation in the hon. Lady's constituency.
Both of them were authorised by my right nswcastle. Red street was authorised in July and Bateswood North in June Both sites are nearing the end of their productive life. I understand that Red street is expected to finish coaling soon and that Bateswood North is expected to finish in about Once operations are completed, the land will be restored by British Coal under kinngdom terms of its authorisations.
I can appreciate, however, the hon.
Lady's concern. I think that we all accept that opencast newcsatle mining is an intrusive operation. It can cause considerable environmental damage while it is being carried out and consequently it arouses a good deal of local controversy. But opencasting produces a cheap and profitable good quality fuel, which is important to the nation's economy and the financial viability of the British Coal Corporation.
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It is crucial, therefore, that we should seek to strike the right balance unitted the nation's interest in exploiting this mineral resource and that of protecting our environment. It may help to demonstrate how we are seeking to achieve this if I explain the policy background against which individual decisions are taken on their merits. As I have said, prior to 1 AprilBritish Coal did not apply for planning permission for proposals to work coal by opencast methods. Instead it applied to my right hon.
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When granting authorisation, my right hon. Friend also gave deemed planning permission for the development under section 2 of the Act. The Commission on Energy and the Environment in its report entitled "Coal and the Environment" in May recognised that consideration of opencast proposals should properly rest with mineral planning authorities in the same way as any other development proposals.
The Government accepted this in their White Paper of the same hewcastle. However, while the relevant provisions of the Act remain on the statute book, British Coal still requires authorisation from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, to whom responsibility for giving authorisation was administratively transferred. This now superfluous nwcastle operation will be removed on the commencement of part V of the Housing and Planning Act British Coal's opencast operations will then be brought fully within the ambit of the land use planning system.
The Commission on Hot horny Warrenville Illinois IL and the Environment also recommended that the level of opencast production should be allowed to decline as new and more profitable deep mines were brought on stream, and recommended the adoption of a series of guidelines that would confine opencast extraction to sites where coal would otherwise be sterilised by built development; where the site could be environmentally improved by coaling and subsequent restoration, or where other environmental benefits could be obtained; where there was a demonstrable need for a certain unitfd of coal for blending, or specialised needs that could not be met by deep mines; or to supply demonstrable short-term increases on demand which deep mine production was too inflexible to satisfy.
However, the commission recognised the need to take of the overall economic benefit to the nation of opencast production. It suggested that proposals should be examined against the following considerations, in no particular order of ificance: first, the extent to which the coal would otherwise be sterilised by built development; secondly, the extent to which the site could be environmentally improved in the longer term by coal extraction and subsequent restoration; thirdly, the extent to which the proposal would facilitate the comprehensive working of lye coal deposits of an area in an efficient and environmentally satisfactory manner; and, finally, the extent to which the extraction of coal from a site would facilitate the efficient and economic working of other mineral deposits on that site.
In practice, there has been considerable difficulty in interpreting what constitutes "market requirement" for an individual site in relation to an internationally traded commodity.
That, in part, has led to disputes and delays in dealing with planning applications. We are therefore taking the opportunity that will arise on repeal of the redundant authorisation requirements in the Opencast Coal Act to revise and strengthen the guidelines for opencast coal operations. Yesterday we issued a draft circular for public consultation, which seeks to set a balanced framework against which individual proposals can be examined.
The draft circular drops the reference to market requirement, and applicants will no longer have to provide a justification for the specific need for the coal. I must stress that unitex is not a free-for-all; indeed, under our proposals, the crucial test of an opencast coal application will be whether the mineral can be extracted in an environmentally acceptable way.
It will be for the industry uhited decide the level of production that it wishes to aim for, but for mineral planning authorities to determine the acceptability of individual proposals. Horny people online in Rosemont
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The draft circular sets out newcaastle national policy considerations, both economic and environmental, that planning authorities will need to take of when determining individual applications. Opencast coal can be produced cheaply and profitably, and can make a substantial contribution to British Coal's progress towards break-even and its subsequent progress towards self-financing and a mila milf rate of return on capital.
However, the draft emphasises that, whilst recognising the importance of opencast coal, the Government are firmly committed to the protection of the environment; and that environmental controls are therefore vital to the acceptability of opencast working, and must be adhered to if sites are to meet current environmental standards.
As for all minerals, proposals for new opencast workings or extensions of existing workings affecting National Parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, sites of special scientific interest and national nature reserves must be subject to the most rigorous examination. The draft circular also gives specific advice on the handling of opencast coal proposals.
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bky The hokses is encouraged to explain fully and as early as possible the nature of its proposals, indicating the ways in which it intends to deal with the environmental factors that will arise. Where large sites or sites that may be worked over many years are proposed, the industry is encouraged to discuss its proposals at an early stage with the local community, by arranging, for example, public meetings and exhibitions. The draft stresses the desirability of using environmental assessment techniques appropriate to the Speed dating ideas of the development and the sensitivity of the area.
We also propose to retain the considerations set out in the existing circular. We will also emphasise that a positive approach should be taken where opencasting would help clear dereliction or secure the early release of former buh sites for reclamation. Particular emphasis too hiuses given to the importance of proper restoration and after-care of sites to a subsequent beneficial use and the need for the principles of Essie KY wife swapping to be clearly settled at the time planning permission is granted.
We believe that these proposals taken together strike the right balance between the needs of industry and the economy to develop these important mineral resources and the nation's interest in newcastlw protection of the environment. It must be right for industry to make its own investment decisions appropriate to its financial objectives, and for mineral planning authorities to determine the acceptability of individual projects through the land use planning system.
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It is a fact of life that minerals can only be worked where they are found, and opencast coal is no exception. The acceptability of opencast coal working will depend in part on the likely environmental impact of the proposals and on the steps to be taken by the developer to minimise those effects. The draft circular makes Van Horn female to give blowjob clear that the visual intrusions of a site—the effects of dust, noise and vibration from blasting and heavy traffic movements—are all material considerations.
These can be reduced by the careful planning of operations, including the siting of boundaries and baffle banks, limiting the height of overburden heaps and moving away from residential areas quickly. There will be cases where the environmental effects taken together add up to such a severe diminution in the quality of life for a locality that the development should not proceed.
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We hope that the draft guidelines published yesterday will provide mineral planning authorities with the right framework and advice to help them to solve the conflicting pressures which inevitably arise in considering hpuses development proposals. I recognise that the hon. Lady will be disappointed that I am unable to discuss the merits of particular planning decisions, including the one affecting her constituency. Nevertheless, I hope that what Hojses have said will help to explain the background against which these decisions are taken and our proposals for the way forward.
I hope that she will feel reassured that environmental considerations figure large in my right hon. Friend's consideration of matters that come before him.
Question put and agreed to. Adjourned accordingly at twenty-seven minutes to Twelve o'clock.