The Planning and Environment
Committee is one of the Association hard working groups. As well
as responding to the many Government consultation papers that
are published every year the Committee works to protect members’
interests and ultimately their right to operate.
One area that the Association has been very
active on in the past year has been representing members’
interests on speeding up planning applications. Representations
were made to both the Chief Executives of Planning Service and
Natural Heritage in order to have the process speeded up. This
has resulted in a new Protecting, Landscape and Nature’
Team (PLaN) being set up. PLaN is an Agency within the Department
of the Environment and the Association will monitor its progress
towards speeding up planning applications from our sector.
One of the top priorities for the Association
is the release of the Sustainability Fund in Northern Ireland.
We have asked DOE and DFP that immediate steps are taken to initiate
a mechanism whereby money raised through the ALSF can be allocated
to projects that will result in real environmental benefits across
Northern Ireland. The Associations aim is to secure long term
funding for the position of our Biodiversity officer see projects
funded and initiated between our industry and local communities
affected by our operations.
The Association intends to build on its working
relationship with Planning Service this year and plans are being
made to hold a number of awareness visits for Planning officials
to members sites to inform them about the day to day challenges
of operating in our industry. The Association will also be supporting
Planning Service in the holding of regional road shows to inform
the industry about the implementation of the new ROMPS legislation.
Following intense and frustratingly long lobbying
by QPANI Planning Service have began work on the long awaited
Mineral Planning Policy Statement, to be known as PPS 19 in the
current suite of policy statements. The Association will be invited
to nominate a representative to the PPS Stakeholder Working Group.
Involvement in this group will provide the appropriate forum for
the QPANI to outline our thinking on the approach that we consider
should be taken. We expect a formal invitation in February.
QPANI have called for the implementation of
Mineral Safeguarding Areas as part of an overall Mineral Planning
Policy Statement. Minerals Policy Statement 1 (MPS1) published
in November 2006 in England has introduced a new obligation to
define Mineral Safeguarding Areas. MSAs are required to be shown
in all development plan documents to alert prospective applicants
for planning permission to the existence of valuable mineral resources.
The clear directive to Planning Authorities at all levels in England
and Wales is to ensure that the new safeguarding process is put
into practice as soon as possible and used effectively following
the strong lead given to them in MPS1. As Northern Ireland continues
to see significant economic growth and development over the next
few years and beyond, the time has long since past when we require
a similar Mineral Safeguarding Areas to that now established in
England and Wales.
As well as MSAs the Association will want
to see significant changes to the Permitted Development Policy
in relation to quarries and an agreement on recognised buffer
zones around sites as part of an agreed MPPS.
Following a recent meeting between the Association,
the Carbon Trust and Invest NI a number of events will be taking
place over the next number of months. The QPANI has entered into
a partnership with the Carbon Trust (www.carbontrust.co.uk) to
provide a range of services designed to better understand and
reduce the energy consumption (& hence carbon emissions) in
the Northern Ireland minerals and quarrying sectors.
Part of this activity relates to the updating
of energy performance and benchmarking figures across the main
industry sectors e.g. to produce typical and best practice indicators
such as kWh of energy used per tonne of produce.
|Connor Jordan (Chair)
||Norman Emerson Group
||CES Quarry Products Ltd
||Robinson Quarry Masters
||Acheson & Glover
||Whitemountain Quarries Ltd