Minerals

Proposed working area of an extension to Spaunton Quarry, North York Moors National Park

Green Balance won a major test case on mineral working in National Parks when we represented the Council for National Parks (CNP), a national voluntary organisation, at a public inquiry into the extension of Spaunton Quarry into the North York Moors National Park. The National Park Authority wanted to approve the proposal, but the Secretary of Stated ‘called-in’ the planning application for his own decision following requests by CNP and others. Green Balance was selected to take on the combined technical, legal and financial resources of both the mineral company and the planning authority at the three week inquiry in June 1997, acting as both main expert witness and advocate.

This was a national test case for the incoming Labour Government, both on national park policy and on the particular issue of whether the quarrying of construction aggregates – a widely available mineral – should be allowed in National Parks, as no similar aggregates case had been decided there for many years.

The topics covered by Green Balance both in evidence and cross-examination were wide-ranging, on such matters as:

  • the planning policies to be applied,
  • need for the development,
  • the availability of alternative materials at reasonable cost,
  • the environmental impacts of working,
  • the relative importance to the local economy and
  • local landscape enhancement.

The plant site and haul road at Spaunton Quarry in 1997

The Inspector recommended that the application should be refused. The Secretary of State agreed strongly, supporting Green Balance on all the above issues. He argued that “the environmental disbenefits of transporting minerals into the local area from alternative sources of supply are significantly remote and insubstantial when compared to the overall benefits of leaving the site in its current state”. The weekly journal Planning described the decision as a “resounding rejection of major quarrying plans in the North York Moors” (24 April 1998). The decision remains today an important influence in mineral planning.

“CNP is very grateful to you for all your hard work and commitment to CNP and National Park principles. Council believes that CNP’s case at the inquiry was undeniably and powerfully strengthened by your involvement as lay advocate and expert witness, and that as a result CNP’s arguments were presented in the most compelling way.”

Angus Lunn, Chairman, Council for National Parks, October 1997

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