Policy 26: Mineral extraction

What we're trying to achieve

[3.26.01] We will support the extraction of building stone and slate where this is principally needed to maintain the Special Quality of ‘distinctive buildings and settlement character’ and attributes of Outstanding Universal Value. And high value industrial limestone where it is necessary to support manufacturing processes of local and national importance.

Policy 26: Mineral extraction

We want to ensure that there is an adequate supply of local building stone and slate to help maintain the distinctive buildings and settlement character of the Lake District, and of high value industrial minerals which are of local and national importance.

We will achieve this by supporting:

1. applications for building stone and slate extraction where it:

  • is for the extension of an existing site or the reopening of an old site; and
  • meets a local need for building stone and slate; or
  • meets a need to conserve nationally significant buildings; and
  • makes careful use of mineral resources including the effective use of secondary aggregates.

2. applications for high purity limestone extraction where it:

  • is for the extension of an existing site; and
  • meets an identified national need for high purity limestone; and
  • makes careful use of aggregates produced as a consequence of the industrial process.

3. applications for general aggregate extraction and processing only where the time period of planning permission is to be extended and not a physical extension to the area of extraction.

In all cases proposals must demonstrate:

  • the sensitive environmental restoration and after care of mineral sites, including enhancement for biodiversity, geodiversity and landscape
    character and quality, and
  • support of the local economy and employment opportunities.

We will not support new mineral sites for quarrying and mining.

We will not support the extraction of hydrocarbons.

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Current Situation

[3.26.02] The Lake District, in common with other scenically attractive upland areas, has a diverse geology and is rich in a variety of mineral deposits. Underground mining for a range of minerals including lead, copper, graphite and tungsten, began in the late sixteenth century. Slate quarrying, which is of particular importance, has also taken place for centuries, originally as underground workings but more recently as surface workings. The extensive use and distinctive character of local slate for roofing is a unifying feature in the Lake District. High purity limestone, produced at Shap Beck Quarry, is nationally significant and is necessary to support industrial processes of local and national importance, particularly in steel manufacture.

[3.26.03] Mineral production is now more limited and is concentrated upon slate, building stone and aggregates. There are: nine active building stone quarries;

  • three active and one inactive hard rock quarries providing limestone, igneous and sandstone rock;
  • very limited coal reserves. Coal resources are considered in the Cumbria Mineralsand Waste Local Plan 2015–2030;
  • no peat extraction sites because within the National Park there are some of Britain’s most significant peat mires and their importance for conservation and for carbon absorption means that they are strictly protected;
  • no sand and gravel quarries currently operating;
  • no known oil or gas reserves within the National Park’s underlying geology; and
  • no onshore licences within the Lake District for oil and gas

[3.26.04] Quarrying is a recognised part of our cultural landscape and industrial background, and is an important local employer providing opportunities for highly skilled manual jobs. However, there is no escaping that quarrying also has impacts, not least on the landscape but also on communities and the local roads.

[3.26.05] The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) evaluation report into the English Lake District World Heritage nomination recommends that the Authority considers how it can provide assurances that quarrying activities within the English Lake District will be progressively downsized and extraction volumes limited to what is needed for carrying out conservation of the assets supporting the attributes of the property.

[3.26.06] The National Planning Policy Framework requires mineral planning authorities to plan for a steady and adequate supply of aggregates. We have prepared a Local Aggregates Assessment for Cumbria jointly with Cumbria County Council. The land bank end date for crushed rock is mid-2059 and for sand and gravel the land bank end date is early 2026. Site allocations have been made in the Cumbria Minerals and Waste Local Plan that would provide sufficient reserve to maintain the land bank required for sand and gravel. A shortfall in supply of very high specification roadstone is identified at Ghyll Scar Quarry.

[3.26.07] It is difficult to determine the precise quantity and type of material required locally to support the level of development anticipated during the plan period. Within National Parks the scale of development should be limited. This Plan establishes a housing target of 80 new homes per annum, and development to support the employment sector (business, retail and tourism) is focussed on job creation rather than additional floorspace provision.

[3.26.08] The potential for hydrocarbon fracking in the Lake District has not yet been assessed by British Geological Society, but it is believed that it is limited to the areas around the periphery of the Lake District. Surface drilling is not allowed in National Parks through legislation, but operators may still apply to drill horizontally underneath a National Park, whilst the infrastructure is located outside it.

Implementation

[3.26.08] This policy will be used in the assessment of all proposals for mineral extraction. For applications classed as major mineral extraction (see Glossary) we will also use the major development tests in the National Planning Policy Framework.

[3.26.09] Any application for an entirely new site would be considered as a departure from this policy. In cases where the time period of planning permission is to be extended, the benefits of doing so will be weighed up against impacts on local amenity. New sites or the physical extension to the area of extraction of an existing site for the sole extraction of general aggregates will not be supported.

[3.26.10] Our primary aim regarding building stone and slate is to sustain a steady supply of building material to help maintain the local vernacular. However, we appreciate that for mineral operators to run a viable business it is essential to retain a broad customer base that may extend beyond just the supply of local markets, such as supplying raw materials to conserve and repair nationally significant buildings. Whilst economic viability is a material consideration in the decision making process, this additional market should not be the sole reason for submitting an application; continuing the long tradition of fulfilling a local need for building stone and roofing slate will always be paramount in our decision.

[3.26.11] We acknowledge that aggregates are produced as a consequence of the industrial process associated with the extraction of high purity limestone, so we encourage the marketing of this by-product rather than it being stock piled.

[3.26.12] We will not support applications for onshore extraction of conventional and unconventional hydrocarbons. The nature of this type of development can have visual impacts on a highly sensitive landscape, be intrusive on communities, natural capital assets and could potentially impact on the authenticity and integrity of the attributes of the World Heritage Site.

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