Mined or quarried minerals are used for a range of energy, construction, manufacturing and agricultural purposes. The highest quality minerals are often found in places with high landscape value, including National Parks. National policy expects there to be a landbank of minerals, and though there is evidence of a currently adequate supply of minerals outside the Park, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, as the Mineral Planning Authority, is required to identify sites where mineral resources are known to exist. The Dales has the second highest level of quarrying activity among national parks, where a number of minerals operations result from permissions which were granted before these areas were first protected.
Quarrying has environmental impacts on both local communities and the landscape. These include noise, dust, blast vibration, heavy lorry traffic, landscape character change, loss of biodiversity, and visual intrusion. Tranquillity and residential amenity are negatively impacted. Such impacts are of particular concern in National Parks, given their statutory purposes.
Any planning application for minerals development, whether a new quarry or an extension to an existing one, is considered to be a “major development”. National Planning Policy Framework states that in national parks “Planning permission should be refused for major development other than in exceptional circumstances…” The current YDNPA Local Plan states that “Extensions in time, extraction area or depth, will only be permitted…” subject to a number of conditions relating to impacts on the area, means of transport of materials, and effects on the local economy.
The major quarries in operation in the YDNP in 2018 are:
|Permitted Tonnes/year||License ends|
|DRY RIGG (Tarmac)||350,000||2021*|
|SWINDEN (Tarmac)||1,100,000 by road||2030§|
* Tarmac uses a railhead at Arcow quarry and is committed to a maximum annual road tonnage from Dry Rigg and Arcow combined. The company is considering an application to extend the area and depth of Dry Rigg quarry and to extend its operation until June 2039
§ Swinden is rail-linked, with about 50% of sales carried by rail. An application is under consideration to deepen the quarry and to extend its operation until 2039, with a commitment to reduce road transport annual tonnage by 50%.
Our aim is to minimise the damaging impact of minerals extraction in the Dales, and our belief is that:
- Ultimately, large-scale mineral quarrying is inappropriate in a National Park.
- There should be no new major minerals development in the YDNP.
- There should be a progressive reduction in the impact of existing quarries on the environment, communities and visitors in the YDNP.
- The use of rail for mineral movement, rather than road, should be actively encouraged.
- Existing permission expiry dates should not be extended, particularly given evidence of a currently adequate supply of mineral outside the Park.
- If extensions are permitted, then conditions relating to transport by rail should be mandatory.
We acknowledge that closure of quarries at the end of their licenses may impact on employment and this aspect needs to be manged sensitively. On the other hand we believe that the benefits of reduced quarrying activity will include stimulation of the visitor economy and associated employment opportunities.
Former quarry sites should be restored to a high quality and managed for biodiversity, geodiversity, landscape, recreation and amenity benefits. Great care should be taken to ensure that any future economic development on these sites does not compromise these management objectives.
What we will do
- We will support the Campaign for National Parks in its efforts to influence minerals national policy and minerals industry practice.
- We will comment on relevant planning applications in the Dales, in line with the policies above.
- We will maintain a dialogue with the quarrying companies.
- We will campaign publicly on issues relating to quarrying. In particular, we will press for a rail connection to be required at Horton.
We will share experience with other NPs with quarrying issues (Peak District, Dartmoor, North York Moors).