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 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.”