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Planning: Mining

Volume 487: debated on Tuesday 3 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether she plans to introduce a requirement for a 500 metre buffer zone around opencast mines through the Minerals Planning Guidance. (253279)

The Government’s White Paper on Energy “Meeting the Energy Challenge” (2007) indicates that making best use of UK Energy resources, including coal reserves, where it is economically viable and environmentally acceptable to do so, contributes to the Government’s goal of security of energy supplies. Planning Policy for coal extraction in England (whether open cast or deep mine) is set out in Minerals Policy Guidance Note 3 “Coal Mining and Colliery Spoil Disposal” (MPG3) published in 1999. Consistent with the broader policy in the White Paper, this sets a presumption against such development unless the proposal meets specific tests in terms of environmental acceptability or the provision of local and community benefits which clearly outweigh the likely impacts. The Government believe that these tests are sufficient to ensure that the environmental effects of opencast coal mining are properly considered in the planning process. There is no current intention to review policy in MPG3.

The full text of MPG3 is set out on my Department’s website at:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/mineralsplanningguidance2