Minerals and Waste
Solar farm developments in Essex should adhere to the following minerals and waste safeguarding and infrastructure matters;
Policy S8 – Safeguarding Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves of the Essex Minerals Local Plan (MLP) 2014 requires that a non-mineral proposal located within a Mineral Safeguarding Area which exceeds defined thresholds must be supported by a minerals resource assessment. This will ascertain whether there is an opportunity for the prior extraction of that mineral to avoid the sterilisation of the resource, as required by the National Planning Policy Framework (Paragraph 204). Although temporary structures, solar farms are typically intended to remain in-situ for longer than five years and therefore would be considered ‘included development’ for the purposes of the application of Policy S8. However, following a consideration of the current spatial and mineral contexts, some of the requirements of Policy S8 can potentially be set aside for applications for solar farms provided that: the application is clear that the proposed scheme is temporary in nature, and appropriate conditions are applied to the grant of any planning permission which ensure that the land is returned to its current use upon cessation of the permission granting the use of the land for a solar farm and/or ancillary uses. Whilst a ‘Mineral Resource Assessment’ (MRA) will still be required to comply with Policy S8 of the MLP, it is unlikely that this needs to be as detailed as those MRAs informing applications for development more permanent in nature. For example, it is unlikely that a borehole analysis will be required if the above clauses can be demonstrated. It is recommended that promoters contact the Minerals Planning Authority to confirm any requirement for MRA as part of pre-application advice. Where subsequent applications seek to remove or modify any such condition related to temporary working, the application will be re-considered under mineral safeguarding policy. Policy S8 of the MLP also defines Mineral Consultation Areas (MCAs). The role of MCAs is to ensure that existing and allocated mineral sites and infrastructure are protected from inappropriate neighbouring developments that may prejudice their continuing efficient operation.
Policy S8 of the MLP defines Mineral Consultation Areas as extending up to 250m from the boundary of an infrastructure site or allocation for the same. Policy 2 of the Essex and Southend-on-Sea Waste Local Plan 2017 seeks to ensure that existing and allocated waste sites and infrastructure are protected from inappropriate neighbouring developments that may prejudice their continuing efficient operation. Policy 2 defines Waste Consultation Areas (WCAs) as extending up to 250m from the boundary of the majority of existing or allocated waste infrastructure, and up to 400m from existing or allocated Water Recycling Centres. Solar Farms may be sensitive to the impacts of proximal mineral and/or waste working and therefore they are considered to be ‘included development’ for the purposes of MCAs and WCAs. Where an application for a solar farm intersects or is otherwise within an MCA or WCA, an impact assessment is required as part of the planning application. The Minerals and Waste Planning Authority (MWPA) has designed a generic schedule of information requirements that should be addressed as relevant through such statements. The detail to be provided should be in proportion to the nature of the proposed application. It is recommended that promoters contact the MWPA to confirm the requirement of any such impact assessment as part of pre-application advice.
Page updated: 27/06/2022