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COMMONS AMENDMENT
154After Clause 79, insert the following clause:—

'Mineral planning permissions
Mineral planning permissions

.—(1) Schedules (Review of old mineral planning permissions) and (Periodic review of mineral planning permissions) to this Act shall have effect.
(2) This section, those Schedules as they apply to England and Wales, and the 1990 Act shall have effect as if this section and those Schedules (as so applying) were included in Part III of that Act.
(3) This section, those Schedules as they apply to Scotland, and the 1972 Act shall have effect as if this section and those Schedules (as so applying) were included in Part III of that Act.
(4) Section 105 of the 1990 Act and section 251A of the 1972 Act shall cease to have effect.
(5) Without prejudice to the generality of sections 59 to 61 of the 1990 Act or, as the case may be, section 21 of the 1972 Act, a development order may make, in relation to any planning permission which is granted by a development order for minerals development, provision similar to any provision made by Schedule (Review of old mineral planning permissions) or (Periodic review of mineral planning permissions) to this Act.

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(6) In this section and those Schedules—
"the 1972 Act" means the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972;
"the 1990 Act" means the Town and Country Planning Act 1990;
"the 1991 Act" means the Planning and Compensation Act 1991; and
"minerals development" means development consisting of the winning and working of minerals, or involving the depositing of mineral waste.'.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 154. In speaking to this amendment, I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 221, 222, 242, 264, 319 and 324.

During Report stage, my noble friends Lord Addison and Lord Campbell of Croy moved various amendments to provide for the reform of old mineral permissions. My noble friend Lord Ullswater undertook that the Government would bring forward their own amendments in another place.

Since our debate, my noble friend Lord Ullswater has had helpful discussions with my noble friend Lord Addision and with representatives of the industry and local authorities. The new clause inserted by Amendment No. 154 and the two new schedules set out in Amendments Nos. 221 and 222 give effect to the policy proposals which my noble friend outlined at Report stage.

With regard to the updating of old mineral sites, the first new schedule, which is set out in Amendment No. 221, provides for an initial review and updating of mineral sites where the predominant planning permission for the winning and working of minerals or the depositing of mineral waste was granted before 22nd February 1982.

The schedule makes a distinction between active and dormant sites. Work cannot restart on dormant sites—that is, sites where no mineral working or depositing of mineral waste has taken place to any substantial extent between 22nd February 1982 and 6th June 1995—until a new scheme of full modern operating and restoration conditions has been approved by the planning authority. That is an important proposal. It will ensure that sites where working has not taken place for some years cannot be reactivated without warning on outdated terms and conditions.

For active sites landowners of relevant minerals must submit new schemes of operating and restoration conditions for the planning authority's approval by a date specified by the authority. If no scheme is submitted, the planning permissions will cease to have any effect. That will get active sites up to standard.

To spread the workload, reviews of active sites will take place in two consecutive phases, each of three years. Phase I will deal with sites where the predominant permission, or permissions, was granted before 31st March 1969, or 7th December 1969 in Scotland. Phase II will deal with sites where the predominant permission was granted after that date but before 22nd February 1982. Sites wholly or partly within national parks, sites

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of special scientific interest, areas of outstanding natural beauty, (and national scenic areas and natural heritage areas in Scotland), will all be treated as Phase I sites.

Where my noble friend Lord Ullswater outlined these proposals at Report stage, he indicated that he intended that they should broadly follow the approach we adopted for the review and updating of interim development orders or such permissions introduced in the Planning and Compensation Act 1991. However, he made it clear that he would give consideration to the possibility of incorporating in statute the principles of the statement made by my right honourable friend Sir George Young when he was a Minister at the Department of the Environment before he was catapulted into new spheres. That we have done.

There will be no compensation for the cost of complying with conditions imposed on dormant sites. For active sites there will be no compensation for new restoration and aftercare conditions, nor for conditions which do not restrict working rights. For conditions which do restrict working rights, compensation will be payable only if, in the opinion of the planning authority, the effect of the restriction would be such as to prejudice to an unreasonable degree either the economic viability of the operation or the asset value of the site.

These amendments will ensure that in a relatively short period old mineral permissions will be brought up to acceptable standards and that dormant sites cannot be reactivated without warning or proper conditions.

Having got the older permissions up to standard, we need to ensure that all mineral permissions keep pace with changing standards in the future. The second new schedule, which is set out in Amendment No. 222, therefore provides for the periodic review of all mining sites with planning permission for the winning and working of minerals or the depositing of mineral waste.

Your Lordships will be glad to know that the remaining amendments in this group are technical and consequential. I commend them to the House.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 154.—(Earl Ferrers.)

Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, as my noble friend said, I raised this subject in Committee and moved an amendment at Report stage, concentrating particularly on old mineral permissions relating to ironstone. My noble friend Lord Ullswater gave an undertaking then and I am grateful to the Government for having introduced these amendments in the other place in accordance with that undertaking. We now have a whole new clause and two schedules on a subject which was not originally in the Bill.

Although I am grateful for that, I should like to raise two points relating to ironstone. Ironstone is different from other mineral workings. I shall not repeat my previous speeches, but ironstone has not been needed since 1979, although permissions for its mining continue to run for many years still and limestone is being worked at the sites instead. That was not the purpose for which the permissions were originally intended. They were granted after World War II by central government. It was not left to local government. Ironstone was then

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vital for our steel industry. All transport was to be by rail. Now all the limestone is conveyed by large and heavy lorries and there is damage and disturbance to the rural communities in the districts concerned. Access and transport conditions need to be considered and, where necessary, regulated in the new system.

My first inquiry: can we be certain that the guidance which is foreseen in the Bill and which is due to be issued will include transport and access when the Bill has been enacted? Will it cover active as well as dormant sites? Will it arrange for access and transport conditions to be regulated in the present circumstances, which are different from those of 40 years ago?

My second point is that many ironstone permissions for individual sites are large. Some of them are over 1,000 acres for a single permission. But in those areas only a small part is being worked. In some cases they are physically separated from the larger, dormant parts. It seems that the amendments, as drafted, require the whole area to be treated as active, because originally all the areas were in a single permission. Is there a way in which those large areas can now be divided into small, active sites and large, dormant ones? That would make sense under present conditions and would give mineral planning authorities better control.

7 p.m.

Baroness Nicol: My Lords, I understand that the Government define sites as dormant if they were dormant on 6th June, which is when the amendments were published in the other place, but the noble Viscount, Lord Ullswater, announced the arrival of the amendments back in March. I understand that during that intervening period a number of operators have started up work on what were previously dormant sites in order to be able to claim compensation. Is the Minister aware of that? Can he give us any idea of whether the practice is widespread, and whether, if it is, there is any way that it can be proved that the sites are dormant and not therefore subject to compensation?

Viscount Addison: My Lords, perhaps I may say, first, how much I value the efforts of my noble friend Lord Ullswater in securing the government amendments tabled in the other place to tackle the environmental problems created by old mineral planning permissions.

I have just two outstanding concerns. The first is on the compensation. It appears at subsection (3) (b) half-way down page 77 of the Marshalled List. Will my noble friend explain what constitutes "prejudice adversely" and "unreasonable degree" with regard to the economic viability of the operational site? I hope that we can have some clarification on that point.

The second point, relating to dormant sites, has already been mentioned. The Government have defined sites as dormant if they were dormant on 6th June, so I do not need to repeat what has been said. That causes concern. We have found that work has been restarted within the three months between my noble friend's announcement and 6th June. It is important that we get the wording right to ensure that people do not receive compensation if that is the case. One example relates to a major, long dormant limestone quarry in a prominent

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location within the Peak District National Park where work has recently recommenced for no other discernible reason. It is therefore crucial that we secure clarification on the definition of dormancy.

The government amendments provide that a site will be considered active only if it has been worked to a substantial degree. There is no explanation of what that constitutes. The draft guidance issued on the provisions does not provide sufficient explanation. That definition will be crucial in determining whether a site which has had only a few wheelbarrow loads removed is active or not. We hope therefore that the final guidance will provide a full explanation of what constitutes:


    "working to a substantial degree".


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