30 Apr Proposed National Planning Policy Framework Overlooks Need for Additional Aggregates Supply
The Government recently published its long-awaited draft revision of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This consolidates a series of proposals that have been made in the last two and half years, and which have been included in various consultation documents. However, has this draft policy failed to recognise the growing need for minerals extraction?
The NPPF review focuses mostly on housing, and particularly on ways to improve delivery in order to achieve the government’s 300,000 new homes per year target, and how to increase affordable housing provision. In response to this, the Mineral Products Association (MPA) says the proposed NPPF reforms will further weaken the mineral planning system and ultimately affect supplies. They warn that this could threaten the replenishment of aggregate and other mineral reserves, which represent the largest material supply in the economy and are essential in the delivery of house building and infrastructure.
MPA figures show that the 10-year average replenishment figure for sand and gravel reserves is only 60%, indicating that sales continue to outstrip the amount of new reserves permitted. This is against the context of over 3 billion tonnes of construction aggregates being required to meet national housing demand to 2030 and beyond.
Nigel Jackson, MPA Chief Executive commented, “The mineral products and quarrying industry is an essential, indigenous and major industry in its own right that is locked into the DNA of house-building. Policies intended to deliver more housing and better infrastructure also need to address the long-term supply of mineral products and the performance of the mineral planning system.”
The MPA claim that the modifications to the policies on landbanks and stocks of permitted reserves threaten the future adequate provision of key mineral products, including crushed rock, cement, lime and industrial sands, all critical to construction and manufacturing. They are disappointed that, even though minerals play an essential role in supporting the delivery of Government housing and infrastructure ambitions, this is not reflected in the draft revisions to the NPPF. The MPA believe that the proposed changes will considerably weaken policy supporting minerals.
“Our industry will make the investments required to deliver the materials needed for future housebuilding and construction, but there needs to be a recognition within government that significant work is needed to ensure the effective future operation of the mineral planning system. Supply cannot be assumed. It needs planning, monitoring and managing nationally, regionally and locally.”
Although the MPA believes that the current NPPF has responded to the need for more ‘localism’, it has not proved to be effective when ensuring an adequate and steady supply of aggregates and industrial minerals. They report that supplies are becoming increasingly strained.
“The growing gap between housing aspiration and the supply chain means the government’s ambitions are potentially at risk from the outset and they must afford the long-term development of mineral resources as much encouragement as the developments and end-uses which rely upon them. We will continue to work with government and key stakeholders to help ‘make the link between essential mineral products which underpin the economy and our quality of life.”
The MPA have committed to making vigorous representations to Government to propose that they ‘think again’ about many the proposed changes to the NPPF.
The Government will now seek views on the two proposed consultations until 10 May 2018, with the expectation that the final revised results will be published before the Government embarks on their summer recess.