To receive a report on the draft Minerals Local Plan.
Robin Drake, Principal Planner: Mineral and Waste Policy, and Kevin Phillips, Team Manager (Planning/Mineral), presented the report on the emerging Minerals Local Plan for Gloucestershire (2018-2032). The report detailed the analysis of representations received to the draft plan consultation, and the proposed significant changes to be considered for incorporation into the Publication version of the plan.
Members noted that Gloucestershire County Council was the local Minerals Planning Authority for the County, and that the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 required planning authorities to produce local plans. Gloucestershire County Council was currently seeking to replace the existing Gloucestershire Minerals Local Plan, which was adopted in 2003.
Work into producing a replacement plan commenced in 2005, however was halted temporarily due to the Gloucestershire Waste Core Strategy. Work recommenced on replacing the Gloucestershire Minerals Local Plan from late 2012. Between autumn 2014 and summer 2016 a comprehensive draft Minerals Local Plan for Gloucestershire (2018-2032) was prepared, which was subject to public consultation between September and November 2016.
Members were informed that the public consultation received over 2,500 individual representations, and over 25 percent of representations were concerned with the acceptability or otherwise of the proposed local policy for assessing any future oil and gas developments. Regarding the candidate allocations, the Redpool’s Farm allocation and the Stowe Hill/ Clearwell quarry complex allocation received the most interest.
It was explained that the Cabinet Panel: Minerals Local Plan had scrutinised and supported the proposed changes to the plan covering oil and gas extraction, and it was noted that Gloucestershire was currently not subject to any licences. The proposed changes relating to oil and gas extraction included:
· The removal of draft policy MW06 Oil & Gas and its supporting text;
· The expansion of the spatial portrait to explain the current circumstances surrounding the diminished likelihood of oil and gas resources in Gloucestershire being exploited; and
· The inclusion in the spatial portrait of a new commitment to instigate a review of the plan if renewed interest is shown in oil and gas extraction in the future through any attempts to acquire new PEDL licences, if these are made available by the Government.
It was noted that the changes also included the removal of candidate allocation 07 – Preferred Area at Redpool’s Farm, Twyning, and that a number of the detailed development requirements for candidate allocation 01 – Preferred Area at Stowe Hill/ Clearwell, had been reworked and expanded.
The Committee was informed of the proposed timescale for the progression of the emerging Minerals Local Plan for Gloucestershire (2018-2032). The next step was for Cabinet, at its meeting on 31 January 2018, to consider making a recommendation to full Council for the approval of the Publication version of the plan, and to also enable the plan to be subsequently submitted to the Secretary of State.
In response to concerns raised by some Committee members that the emerging Minerals Local Plan for Gloucestershire (2018-2032) would not include an oil and gas policy, it was explained that officers were confident that the proposed approach would be acceptable to the planning inspectorate. It was also suggested that, in light of the significant public interest of the issue, the proposed approach was the most pragmatic way forward, and that should there be a renewed interest in oil and gas extraction in the future, the policy could be reviewed separately to the rest of the plan. It was added that the plan included thematic policies to cover related issues such as water quality and flood risk. Additionally, it was noted that any policy not in line with the Government’s current permissive approach, may not be considered favourably by the inspectorate.
In response to a query, it was highlighted that the emerging Minerals Local Plan for Gloucestershire (2018-2032), once adopted, would have legal weight in planning law, however this would not prevent private developers submitting applications. It was also added that the emerging plan would be more robust than the current plan, which was adopted in 2003.
The Committee discussed the plan in depth, particularly in relation to oil and gas extraction, and noted the report.