Worcestershire Minerals Local Plan

Update October 2021Response from the parish councils of Charlton, Cropthorne, Fladbury and Wick to the consultation on the Main Modifications to the Plan, following the Examination in Public in November 2020

The consultation referenced below asked for comments on whether the MLP is legally compliant and sound in respect of it being positively prepared, justified, effective and compliant with national policy. In respect of legal compliance, the parish councils’ opinion was that the MLP is not legally compliant in particular respect to community engagement and communication, as detailed in the National Planning Policy Format (NPPF) and Worcestershire County Council’s own Statement of Community Involvement (SCI). In respect of the soundness of the MLP, the parish councils’ opinion is not sound in respect of its impact on climate change, the loss of best and most versatile agricultural land and impact on air quality. The parish councils’ detailed responses, which have been formally submitted to Worcestershire County Council’s Minerals Planning Team can be downloaded and read here:

PC-responses-to-Main-Modifications-Consultation-Representation-Form.pdf

Appendix-A-WMLP-Climate-Change-and-its-Impact.pdf

Appendix-B-WMLP-Issues-affecting-Best-and-Most-Versatile-Agricultural-Land.pdf

Appendix-C-MLP-Air-Quality-Issues.pdf

Appendix-D-WMLP-Community-Engagement-and-Communications.pdf

Worcestershire Minerals Local Plan – Latest Status

As part of the Examination in Public (EIP) of the Minerals Local Plan (MLP) Worcestershire County Council is consulting on proposed main modifications to the plan, consequential changes proposed to the policies map (part of the Interactive Minerals Mapping Tool), and the accompanying assessments (updated Sustainability Appraisal, Habitats Regulations Assessment, Equality Impact Assessment, and Health Impact Assessment) for a period of six weeks from Tuesday 31 August 2021 to 5pm on Tuesday 12 October 2021.

All consultation documents, together with details of how to respond, are available on the Examination Programme Officer’s website – see: http://www.hwa.uk.com/projects/worcestershire-minerals-lp-examination/

Consultation previously started on 2 August 2021, but the Council identified that the proposed modifications to the crushed rock Mineral Safeguarding Areas were not shown correctly on the draft policies map (part of the Interactive Minerals Mapping Tool due to the data having become corrupted. The crushed rock Mineral Safeguarding Areas displayed on the draft policies map therefore did not fully reflect the modifications proposed to Figure 7.1 within the Schedule of Main Modifications (see reference MM ab2 and Appendix E of the Schedule of Main Modifications). The previous consultation was therefore terminated on 10 August to ensure that representations about matters affected by the policies map would not be materially disadvantaged by being based on incorrect information.

This issue has now been rectified, and the consultation is being restarted.

It should be noted that the issue was limited to how the data supporting the Minerals Local Plan was displayed in the online interactive mapping tool and did not affect the policies or any other wording of the proposed modifications to the Minerals Local Plan, or any of the accompanying assessments.

Those representations which were submitted before the original consultation was terminated will be taken into account, unless the consultee indicates in writing that they wish to withdraw or alter their representations.

Statement from County Councillor Elizabeth Eyre regarding her position on the Worcestershire Minerals Local Plan, made on 13th April 2021:

County Councillor Elizabeth Eyre has released a statement regarding her position on the Worcestershire Minerals Local Plan, following questions at the Cropthorne Annual Parish Meeting held on 12th April 2021. You can read the full statement either on Councillor Eyre’s Facebook page “Elizabeth4Charlton” or by clicking on this link:

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=137107568367223&id=103019061776074

Update following Examination in Public (EIP) April 2021

Examination in Public hearing sessions were held from 11 November 2020 to 13 November 2020. A further session, to consider the schedule of proposed Main Modifications, was held on 18 December 2020. Due to COVID-19, the hearings were held virtually. All hearing sessions were broadcast live and recordings of the sessions are available through a link on the Programme Officer’s examination website.

Following the December 2020 hearing session  WCC  were tasked with making further Main Modifications and producing a schedule of proposed Additional Modifications. These schedules will be published in 2021. Once these are prepared WCC will be consulting on the Main Modifications arising from the examination process. They are anticipating this consultation taking place as soon as practicable after the Council Elections. Following the consultation the responses will be referred back to the Inspectors who will take into account any representations made in response to that consultation. They may then have a further hearing  prior to issuing their report. The report is the last stage in the examination procedure. Once their final report is received, likely towards the end of this year, it will be put to Cabinet and Full Council for a decision as to whether to adopt the plan.

With regard to comments on the “Planning Permission will be granted” against each section of the policy we wanted this changed to “may be supported”. Whilst WCC were happy with this suggested alteration the planning Inspectors view was that the original wording was sound and should stand. This is on the basis that the Plan is to be read as a whole and that within the context of planning law the decision-makers will give appropriate weight to each policy and other material considerations at the time of each planning application.

WCC are now preparing a “Preferred Options Document” in which sites recommended for minerals extraction will be confirmed. WCC expect this to be completed Q3/4 2021, with further consultation planned for Q1/2 2022.

Although the plan by Tarmac to extract sand and gravel in the fields surrounding Charlton has been withdrawn, the Parish Councils and other interested parties continue to monitor the progress of the WMLP and will report any significant events on the Village website and via the “No Vale Quarries” website.

Statement from The Minerals Steering Group – No Vale Quarries/RAGE

Proposed Mineral Extraction Site – Charlton

We have been advised by Tarmac’s Strategic Planning Manager for this area that they have now “asked their planning consultant to advise the planning authority that the land at Charlton is not a viable prospect for mineral extraction and to withdraw it from the Mineral Local Plan review process”. 

We have been in touch with Worcestershire County Council who advise that they have not yet been asked to withdraw the site from their “Mineral Site Allocations Development Plan Document”. We will follow this up. 

Whilst this is great news for our villages, particularly Charlton and Fladbury, the fact remains that the Local Minerals Plan and associated paperwork still identifies numerous key sand and gravel resources in our area. In addition, with regard to the Charlton site whilst this is not attractive to Tarmac, and we think that other mineral extractors would be in a similar position, we must remain alert to the fact that there is a small chance that one of them may take a different view to Tarmac. 

During the ongoing draft Minerals Local Plan document review period we therefore need to take every opportunity to continue to press for the local sites in the Avon valley between Evesham and Pershore to be excluded from further consideration for sand and gravel extraction. The next opportunity will be when a planning Inspector reviews the proposed minerals plan. We have already submitted our comments to the Inspector but hope to have the opportunity for a small group of us to be present at the review. We also need to remain vigilant to any possible applications being submitted in the meantime. 

As we say, this is great news and we hope you will support our revised focus in ensuring there is no possibility of sand and gravel extraction taking place in our locality.