Blueprint to guide development of area’s natural resources

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Senior politicians have admitted there is increasing pressure on land surrounding one of Britain’s most historic cities to exploit natural resources and find new mineral reserves as they develop a new blueprint which will consider suitable sites.

There has not been a history of mineral extraction in York in recent years, although councillors will be told there are three pending applications for schemes to deal with waste and mineral extraction and a blueprint is being drawn up to guide any future schemes.

York Council, together with North Yorkshire County Council and the North York Moors National Park Authority, have joined together to produce the plan which will help to shape potential sites for new gas and mineral mining schemes which are aiming to exploit reserves buried underground and schemes to manage waste. It could also offer guidance for any potential gas schemes, which could include also include fracking, across the areas covered by the three local authorities.

York Council’s member for transport, planning and sustainabilty, Coun Dave Merrett, said: “Whilst there has not been a history of mineral extraction in York in recent years, and York’s built-up nature and surrounding green belt tend to militate against such developments, this document makes clear there are a number of potential sources of geological materials and products in the York area.

“This document and its choices will therefore be an important one to ensure York has a framework to deal with any applications that might come forward on minerals and waste, and with North Yorkshire and the North York Moors that we can still deliver appropriate materials supply sources and waste disposal facilities as a whole.”

Plans have been submitted for three sites in the York area at Dutton Farm, Upper Poppleton, where permission is being sought to extract clay; to create a waste management plant at the former North Selby Mine at Escrick and extend waste management facilities beyond 2017 at Harewood Whin, Rufforth.

The purpose of the joint plan is to set out the planning policies the authorities will use when dealing with planning applications for minerals and waste development, such as new or extended quarries, and new waste management facilities such as recycling and treatment centres. It will also help identify new sites for these types of development up to the year 2030.

Talks have already been held with a number of bodies about what the joint plan should contain and what the priorities should be. During a cabinet member decision session, Coun Merrett will be asked to approve the next stage of public talks, after the plan goes to the local plan working group on January 13.

So far a number of organisations across the county have put forward their views including Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB) which says steps need to be taken to protect AONB but it says small scale quarrying should be allowed to ensure building materials are available.

The York Green Party says fracking should not be allowed, while Ryedale District Council claims during the production of the Ryedale Plan representations were received regarding shale gas extraction or the “fracking” process. The council says it would be useful if the plan sets out an agreed position with regard to fracking.

If further consultation is backed, public talks are likely to get underway in February or March and to highlight the proposed document and potential sites. The completed Minerals and Waste Joint Plan will need to go to a future cabinet meeting for approval and is expected to be finalised during 2015.