Belfast Telegraph

Durkan’s easing of planning rules to help the quarry industry

Stormont Executive press release - Department of the Environment

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has announced a boost for the quarry and mining industry in Northern Ireland. 

New planning rules will come into operation on 10 March that will mean that there is no need for a planning application for certain types of minor development within mines and quarries. This will include the installation, alteration or replacement of buildings, plant and equipment and the provision of internal lanes and roadways within an existing mine or quarry site.

Mark H Durkan said: “These changes will be a boost for the quarry industry. I want to do what I can to support this industry which provides employment often in rural areas and produces a wide range of products for use in construction, agriculture and industry. 

“At the same time these new rules strike an essential balance by freeing up quarry and mine owners to undertake some minor development whilst putting in place limitations and conditions to ensure that neighbours and the wider environment are protected.

“This is a common sense approach to planning. Removing the need for planning permission for smaller scale development frees up planning staff to focus on those applications that need more detailed examination. A faster, fairer and fit for purpose planning system all provides opportunities to help industry and boost the economy.”

Welcoming the Minister's announcement, Gordon Best, Quarry Products Association Northern Ireland (QPANI) Regional Director said: “This announcement is very welcome and shows that the Minister and his senior officials do listen and do positively engage with our industry. 

“The extension of permitted development rights for certain types of minor development brings our industry into line with the rest of the United Kingdom. The types of development that will now not require planning permission will be those which will have no environmental, visual or community impact but on the contrary, will enhance the environmental and health and safety performance of the quarry. This decision is a real boost to the sector.”

The Minister concluded: “Last week I announced that planning permission is no longer required for installing, altering or replacing air source heat pumps in homes which will help homeowners wishing to reduce their home heating costs. Recently I announced a consultation on a shorter, simpler planning policy for the North which will make the planning system clearer and easier to use. These are all essential building blocks as I work towards achieving my vision of a better environment and a stronger economy.” 

Notes to editors:

1. In Northern Ireland, the Planning (General Development) Order (NI) 1993 (S.R. 1993 No. 278 as amended) (the “GDO”) sets out what type of development can be undertaken without requiring a planning application. These are referred to as permitted development rights and often relate to minor works that are generally non-contentious and have minor impact to neighbours and on the environment.

2. The Planning (General Development) (Amendment) Order (Northern Ireland) 2014 (S.R. 2014 No. 31) which comes into operation on 10 March 2014 amends the GDO by introducing new permitted development rights for development ancillary to mining operations - the link to the Statutory Rule is here:

3. The extension of permitted development rights will reduce the number of planning applications that need to be submitted for minor development. This will contribute to further streamlining the planning system and ensure that it concentrates resources on those applications that require detailed examination.

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