To ensure the future supply of essential mineral products, the planning system must be reformed
The forthcoming Planning White Paper provides an opportunity for the essential role minerals play in our economy to be recognised and supported, says MPA | Credit: MPA
A new policy paper published by the Mineral Products Association calls for reform of the mineral planning system to ensure future supply to support housing and infrastructure construction, manufacturing and other key strategic sectors of the economy.
In a new paper released today, the Mineral Products Association (MPA) has highlighted the essential role of mineral products and the fundamental importance of the planning system for ensuring supply as the economy recovers.
Coming ahead of the Government’s anticipated Planning White Paper, the MPA calls for specific, deliverable measures to reinforce the essentiality of mineral products and improve delivery of the Government’s planning ambitions, supporting the recovery of construction and the wider economy.
“Our sector is responsible for the delivery of 1 million tonnes of essential minerals and mineral products flowing through the national economy every single day, enabling the construction of housing, hospitals and schools alongside transport and energy infrastructure and supporting manufacturing activity,” said Nigel Jackson, Chief Executive of MPA.
“Our analysis estimates over 3 billion tonnes of construction aggregates alone will be required by 2030, of which 70% will be primary materials that will need to be dug from the ground or dredged from the seabed,” he continued.
Supply cannot be assumed
Surveys by the Mineral Products Association show that over a 10-year period, land-won aggregates consumption outstrips the new reserves that are permitted with 75% of crushed rock reserves and just 63% of sand and gravel reserves replaced between 2009 and 2018.
“To maintain this essential contribution, supply cannot be assumed it has to be planned, monitored and managed.
“New capacity cannot be simply ‘switched on’, as it can take up to 15 years to bring new minerals sites and reserves into production following extensive investment and planning,” said Mr Jackson.
Planning White Paper
The Planning White Paper will be an important step to support economic growth and recovery.
It provides an opportunity to reinforce the link between delivery of housing, commercial development and infrastructure and the critical need for a steady and adequate supply of essential mineral products for construction and manufacturing.
The forthcoming Planning White Paper provides an opportunity for the essential role minerals play in our economy to be recognised and supported.
The planning system has a key role to play in ensuring the right minerals are made available in the right place and at the right time to maintain the continuity of supply, and the reforms proposed in the MPA’s paper would substantially improve these processes.
Mr Jackson called for “long-term policies and plans” to provide confidence to planning authorities and mineral operators, to ensure the most sustainable and cost-effective supply solutions can be delivered.
The MPA paper proposes a number of key reforms, both general to the whole system and specifically for mineral planning.
General reforms include better resourcing planning functions by ring fencing fees to address the chronic under-resourcing of local planning departments.
Plan-making and decision-making must be sped up, by streamlining the plan-making process, focussing on simpler plans, supported by a template approach to general and development management policies that are common across the country.
Furthermore, during plan-making and development, information requirements must material, reasonable and genuinely necessary, resisting the increasing number of superfluous information demands.
National statements of need
Specifically, around mineral planning, the MPA are calling for national statements of need for minerals and mineral products, including new National and sub-national guidelines for aggregates provision should provide a more consistent ‘forecast of future demand’ to support the development of local plan.
There is also a need for national and local scales need to be continually monitored to support function and delivery of the Managed Aggregate Supply System.
According to MPA, major construction projects should be required to produce “resource assessments and material supply audits” as part of their development processes to provide greater visibility around future needs, and ensure the right materials are available in the right place and at the right time;
Centres of excellence
The MPA also recommend that ‘centres of excellence’ should be implemented for mineral planning delivery, pooling resources to deliver mineral planning services across authorities to address the lack of specialist minerals planning skills and experience within planning departments.
Establishing the primacy of the planning permission as the main “licence to operate” to reduce the duplication with other regulatory regimes, is also advocated.
“The forthcoming Planning White Paper provides an opportunity for the essential role minerals play in our economy to be recognised and supported,” concluded Mr Jackson.
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