From dragonflies to marsh harriers, otters to orchids, many mineral sites are outstanding places for wildlife. But by working together, mineral planners, mineral operators and conservation organisations can do even more to bring mineral sites to life for people and wildlife.
Creating new wildlife habitats is a core aspiration of the England Biodiversity Strategy, and a key principle of government guidance in the National Planning Policy Framework. A 2006 study by the RSPB showed that mineral sites in England hold the potential to deliver 100% of the habitat creation targets for nine priority habitats - including lowland heathland, lowland meadows, and wet reedbed – and to make a significant contribution to many other habitats.
However, creating priority habitats on individual mineral sites is just the starting point. Creating a coherent and resilient ecological network capable of responding to the challenges of climate change and other pressures requires a shift in emphasis, away from piecemeal conservation actions towards a more effective, more integrated landscape-scale approach. Only if this landscape-scale approach is taken will we halt, and potentially reverse, the decline of England’s biodiversity.
Positive and ambitious policies in Mineral Plans (‘Mineral Plans’ also covers Local Plans with mineral-related policies) can do much to help realise the potential for a landscape-scale approach to habitat creation on mineral sites and to halt the current decline in biodiversity. This advisory sheet sets out some of the most important concepts that a visionary, innovative Mineral Plan should include.
Press for extended after-care periods.
Five years is often not long enough to guarantee successful establishment of priority habitat. Mineral Plans should increase after-care to 25 years, using planning obligations as appropriate.
Examples of best practice
A report by David Tyldesley and Associates (DTA), commissioned by Nature After Minerals (NAM), highlights several examples of Mineral Plans that address some of the above points of best practice. The following Mineral Planning Authorities are a selection of those whom NAM considers to represent best practice.
- Rutland County Council
- Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
- Surrey County Council
- Wiltshire Council
The information set out within this advisory sheet in no way constitutes legal or regulatory advice and is based on circumstances and facts as they existed at the time Nature After Minerals compiled this document. Should there be a change in circumstances or facts, then this may adversely affect any recommendations, opinions or findings contained within this document