Wording of Minerals Permissions in Spotlight
Date of Article
Mar 25 2009

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A recent ruling at the Court of Appeal has put emphasis on the exact wording of permissions for minerals extraction, which could have much wider implications for the minerals that can be won from a specific site and those which are designated as 'waste'.

Minerals site 

In a recent ruling (18th March 2009) at the Court of Appeal, the case of Bleaklow Industries Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government raised an important issue as to permitted development rights conferred through the wording of a mineral planning permission.

The case in question relates to the secondary operation of limestone extraction in association with the extraction of fluorspar at a quarry site located in the Peak District National Park. The quarry in question had the benefit of a 1952 planning permission specifically permitting fluorspar extraction, whilst waste material consequentially extracted was to be deposited within the quarry site.

As governing authority, the Peak District National Park Authority disputed the notion that the 1952 permission also permitted the right to win and work limestone and served an Enforcement Notice to this effect in May 2006. The case was first referred to the Planning Inspectorate for a decision prior to redetermination at the High Court.

Whilst the notion of whether limestone qualified as a mineral was not doubted in the subsequent hearing against the Enforcement Notice, the notion of whether the 1952 permission permitted the right to ‘win’ and ‘work’ the limestone was the subject of some dispute.

Following much consideration as to the construction of the terms ‘winning’ and ‘working’, with reference being made to the case of English Clays Lovering Pochin Ltd v Plymouth Corporation (1974), the court ruled that in this instance the limestone was not a ‘target’ mineral in the context of the 1952 permission and was not capable of being ‘won’ in the fashion the wording of the planning permission intended to construe. It was also ruled that the fact that the limestone possessed a commercial value did not qualify it from not being a waste product in the desired context of the planning permission’s wording. 

As a final point of note, the court also upheld the Planning Inspector's decision that a 2:1 ratio of fluorspar to limestone was an acceptable and enforceable mineral to waste ratio under the planning permission.