An independent report from the Planning Inspectorate has endorsed Kent County Council’s approach to the management of waste and supply of minerals in Kent.
Kent County Council has been preparing two key Local Plans – one sets out areas which are suitable for sand and gravel quarries and the other includes details on how and where waste can be managed.
The plans provide guidance on how the environment and local communities will be protected and will help the county council decide whether to allow new development for mineral extraction, importation and waste recycling.
Kent County Council Deputy Leader Peter Oakford said: “I am delighted the Inspector has agreed with our plans for new minerals sites.
“KCC has been through a thorough process to assess the sites submitted by their owners for inclusion. From these we have found three to best meet the criteria to satisfy the needs for constructing new homes, schools, hospitals, roads and other important infrastructure, whilst considering any impact on the local communities.
“I am grateful to everyone who commented on our plans during the consultation stages – these comments helped us make our final choices.
“The Inspector recommended that we make a few changes to strengthen protection of the environment and local communities which build on the safeguards we have already provided in the existing Kent Minerals and Waste Local Plan. These changes have been included in the plans.”
The policies of the plans ensure that the natural landscapes of Kent are preserved, and the highest standards of site restoration are achieved.
The policies also help district and borough councils take minerals and waste considerations into account when making decisions on other forms of development.
The Mineral Sites Plan include three sites where it is considered quarrying for sand and gravel could take place in future. These sites are:
- Extension to Stonecastle Farm Quarry, Hadlow
- Land at Moat Farm, Five Oak Green
- Chapel Farm (West), Lenham
Kent has a long history of providing important sand and gravel supplies to the construction industry.
While many suitable areas have already been extracted, the Mineral Sites Plan will ensure the construction industry continues to receive the supplies it needs.
Before any extraction can take place, anyone wishing to work these sites would need to obtain planning permission from the county council.
The sites were chosen because detailed assessments showed that they could provide sand and gravel without causing significant unacceptable impacts on the environment and local communities.
Changes to the Kent Minerals and Waste Local Plan, which helps the county council decide whether to allow new development for mineral extraction, importation and waste recycling, were also approved by the Inspector.
Now the Inspector has approved the plans, the county council will meet to decide whether to adopt them as the new approach to waste and minerals in Kent.
Kent County Council is the minerals and waste planning authority for the County Council’s administrative area and is required to prepare and maintain planning policy related to the management of waste and supply of minerals.
The Kent Minerals and Waste Local Plan 2013-30 (KMWLP) was adopted by the County Council in July 2016 as part of the Council’s statutory responsibility to plan for future minerals supply and waste management within Kent.
This Plan forms part of the Development Plan for Kent and is a key policy document for the determination of planning applications.
The KMWLP sets out the County Council’s strategy and policy framework for minerals and waste development in Kent which includes future capacity and supply requirements.
The KMWLP commits the Council to identifying and allocating land considered suitable for minerals and waste development in a subsequent Waste Sites Plan and a Minerals Sites Plan (MSP).
In preparing the MSP the Council had initially considered nine sites for quarries and selected three after detailed technical assessment which included impact on landscape and transport networks.
The assessment also took account of comments received during an extensive public consultation exercise.
The Council reassessed future waste capacity requirements in Kent and this indicated that a Waste Sites Plan was no longer required and that an Early Partial Review of the KMWLP (EPR) was therefore needed to remove the commitment to prepare a Waste Sites Plan.
In addition, experience of implementing the KMWLP policies regarding mineral and waste safeguarding had revealed ambiguity in its wording that was hindering the effectiveness of the policies. Modifications were proposed to address this ambiguity as part of the EPR.
Mineral and waste ‘safeguarding’ is a means by which the planning authorities, including the District and Borough Councils in Kent, can ensure that mineral supplies and waste management facilities are protected against other forms of development which might prevent mineral being extracted and supplied (e.g. through wharves where aggregate mineral in dredged at sea) and waste being managed.
The Kent Mineral Sites Plan and Early Partial Review of the Kent Minerals and Waste Local Plan 2013-30 were submitted to the Secretary of State for Communities, Housing and Local Government on 3 May 2019.
The Secretary of State subsequently appointed Planning Inspector Nicholas Palmer BA (Hons) BPI MRTPI to examine the Plan for its soundness and legality.
The independent examination into the MSP and EPR included public hearings during October 2019.
The County Council can only adopt planning policy if it has first received a report from the Planning Inspectorate which states that the policy is ‘sound’ and complies with legislation on how such policy should be prepared.
The Inspector’s Report was received on 23 April and has been published on the County Council’s website https://consult.kent.gov.uk/portal/second_call_for_sites_2016/document_library