Questions on the Minerals and Waste Joint Plan?

With the Minerals and Waste Joint Plan Examination in Public starting on Tuesday 27th Feb 2018, we’ve put together an FAQ.

What is all the fuss about?
The current Minerals Plan has been in force since 1997. The new plan will (after approval) most likely stand for 15 years or until replaced by a new Minerals & Waste Joint Plan covering North Yorkshire County Council, City of York Council and the North York Moors National Park Authority.

This plan is important as it will be the first time that hydrocarbon extraction (fracking) will be included. The plan for this area is likely to become the blueprint for other areas. We anticipate that the oil & gas industry will make strong representations at the Examination in Public to weaken controls.

 

So what has happened so far?
Frack Free Ryedale have been involved with this for around 4 years and have made consultations at various stages. We have seen the number of pages covering the hydrocarbons section increase and develop significantly over the time consultation has been taking place. This is a positive reflection of the consideration given to the responses Frack Free Ryedale and others have provided.

What is the process?
After a series of consultations over the past 5 years, North Yorkshire County Council, City of York Council and the North York Moors National Park Authority have finalised their Joint Minerals and Waste Plan and published this in November 2017. The Plan will be reviewed by a Government Planning Inspector during an ‘Examination in Public’.

Our objective is to ensure the plan provides adequate yet robust protections to our existing communities and businesses from the recognised adverse and cumulative effects of this industrial development.

Once the inspector finally approves the plan, it will form a blueprint for other planning authorities across the UK as it will be the first such plan to go through this process in an area where onshore fracking is proposed. Once this plan is approved, it will most likely be in place for the next 15 years.

What has been recently announced?
Consultation is now closed and the plan has been published and is subject to an Examination in Public (EiP). The link to NYCC’s website about this is https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/minerals-and-waste-joint-plan-examination

Can I take part in the process?
Yes but only if you have already made a previous consultation response(s). You will be, (or should have been), contacted by the Program Officer Carmel Edwards. If you haven’t responded previously but you have specific concerns, let Frack Free Ryedale know.

What is the purpose of the Examination in Public?
A Planning Inspector is appointed to check the plan is compliant with National Planning Policy. They are appointed because they are experts in planning policy. The Inspector in this case is Elizabeth Ord LLB(Hons) LLM MA DipTUS. The aim is to ensure contentious points are agreed by various parties and converted into the context of proper policy within the plan that is considered to be in accordance with the National Planning Policy.

Where can I find details of National Policy?
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is the main policy guidance document. It is made up of many paragraphs that deal with different aspects of planning guidance. The paragraphs dealing with hydrocarbons (147 and 148), and also those dealing with National Parks/AONBs (115 and 116) are probably the most relevant. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/6077/2116950.pdf

The Government also made a written Ministerial Statement (WMS) in 2015 relating to fracking that carries similar weight to national policy. https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2015-09-16/HCWS202/

When and where is it taking place and are there any important dates I need to be aware of?
Key dates are:

The Examination in Public will start on Tuesday 27 Feb 2018 and is anticipated to end on 23rd March 2018.

The Matters, Issues, Questions document (MIQ) was published on 19th January 2018. https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/sites/default/files/fileroot/Planning%20and%20development/Minerals%20and%20waste%20planning/Examination%20Library/Inspectors%20Docs/IN03_MWJP%20MIQs%20Jan%202018.pdf

This is an important document as it highlights the main areas that are ‘contentious’. Hydrocarbons questions are covered by questions 53 to 64. This is the “go to” document for the issues.

Tuesday 13th March is the important date when any outstanding matters, issues or questions relating to the hydrocarbons section of the plan will be covered at the Examination in Public. The public can observe the meeting. The venue is North Yorkshire County Council, County Hall, Northallerton DL7 8AH.

 If you have previously consulted on the plan you can speak/provide additional evidence. There are specific criteria around what your evidence should cover and how it is sent in. It must be with the Program Officer no later than 1700hrs Friday 12 February 2018

 

Are there contentious issues in the published plan?
Yes – see above regarding the MIQ. There are issues within the published plan about hydrocarbons which are contentious for example:

  • Separation distance of 500m from receptors (ie residential buildings, schools, care homes etc)
  • Visual buffer of 3.5km around National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Beauty
  • Definition of fracking
  • ‘Special’ local landscapes. The Ryedale Local Plan Strategy must be reflected in the Minerals & Waste Joint Plan
  • Cumulative impacts
  • Traffic/transportation management
  • Financial bondsFor example, the industry wants to use a definition of fracking, which would mean fewer fracks are classified as fracks. The industry’s preferred definition of a frack is one using more than 1000m³ of water.  The benefit to the industry is a reduction in the need to apply for planning permission for more than an estimated 50% of wells. We, however, consider that ‘a frack is a frack’.  The impacts on local residents, businesses, the environment and the landscape are significant, irrespective of any arbitrary volume.Some matters are dealt with by ‘regulators’ (Environment Agency, Health & Safety Executive etc). These are not part of the planning regime for the purposes of the EiP. Obviously some items may straddle the boundary between planning and regulatory matters and it is not clear how these will be dealt with. This could include such matters as:
  • What about the environmental issues and regulation?
  • Robustness of regulation in a general sense
  • Environmental and regulatory matters including, air, water, emissions, flaring, waste water issues, public health.

What are Frack Free Ryedale doing?
Frack Free Ryedale will be taking part in the Examination in Public, with the aim of ensuring additional relevant points are made with evidence. Frack Free Ryedale intend to robustly defend their responses made to the plan during the 4 years of consultation. The responses cover landscape characteristics; 500m separation; 3500m buffer zone; cumulative impact; traffic & transportation; air & water pollution; waste treatment; flaring; robustness of regulations; financial bond for restoration; and relevance of the Ryedale Local Plan

What other areas are there where Frack Free Ryedale have concerns?
Frack Free Ryedale are supportive of some areas of the plan and will do all things possible to prevent it being watered down by the industry.

This all seems quite complicated – what can I do?
We have set up a GoFundme page https://www.gofundme.com/Prevent-fracking-spread to raise funds so we can engage expert consultants to advise us and help us make the most of our points. If you have contributed already, thank you. If you shared the page with your network thanks again. Sharing the link across your networks is highly effective in generating donations and support, so please, share, share, share.
 

Frack Free Ryedale Planning Group – Jan 2018