What exactly is the Minerals and Waste Joint Plan?
As minerals and waste planning authorities, North Yorkshire County Council, the City of York Council and the North York Moors National Park Authority are required to produce a minerals and waste joint plan.
This plan will, once finalised, set out new planning policies for minerals developments and waste disposal across all three areas. which will guide decisions on planning applications up to 2030.
Sounds like a gripping read. What influence does it have?
It’s hard to over-estimate the importance and influence of the Minerals and Waste Joint Plan – or MWJP, for short. This documents sets the baseline of policy in the area for all types of mineral extraction and waste disposal for the next fifteen years – including fracking and other types of unconventional oil and gas extraction, and disposal of fracking waste water by re-injection or in rivers and the sea.
So, basically, this is a really important document, particularly – from our point of view – in relation to the development of fracking in North Yorkshire.
Has there been much discussion about the MWJP already?
Yes, there has. The three authorities have a MWJP in place already, and have been discussing what should go in a new version of this important document since way back in 2013. The new version has already been put out for public consultation four times, the last of which was in January this year. You may have even responded to this via our website.
So what stage are we at now?
The current version of the MWJP is called the Publication Draft, which as the name implies is the last consultation document before publication.
If you click on the above link, the Hydrocarbons section starts on p75. and the plan wording itself, along with policy justification, runs from p83-98. Knock yourself out!
Can we object to anything we want?
No, we can’t. As this is the final consultation before publication, the NYCC have limited the scope of what people can say to issues ‘relating to legal compliance and tests of soundness’. For the Council’s definition of what this means, click here, but basically all they will consider this time round is whether the plan complies with other legal planning documents, most notably the National Planning Policy Framework, and that the plan is ‘positively prepared, justified, effective and consistent with national policy.
However, much of the plan – particularly section M16 – has changed dramatically since the last version in January. This is because of the announcement of a huge number of new PEDL licence areas in Ryedale and subsequent representations by companies that intend to frack in Yorkshire. So the NYCC policy of only limiting comments to legality and soundness mean that, in effect, some the content of the plan has not been consulted on properly at all.
Can’t we just submit an objection saying that we don’t want fracking in Yorkshire?
While of course this is what we would all like to see, local authorities are constrained by national policies set by Government, and that prevents them from imposing an outright ban on fracking. What we can do, however, is argue for policies that would limit the harm that the fracking industry would do in the area as much as possible. Therefore the guidance we offer below does not call for a complete ban on fracking or any other type of unconventional gas exploitation in the region, as this would just be ignored by the MWJP Committee.
However, whatever the final published version of the JMWP looks like, Frack Free Ryedale – and dozens of other local anti-fracking groups across Yorkshire – you can be sure that we will continue to oppose all unconventional oil and gas exploration and production in North Yorkshire and the rest of the UK, and will continue to demand a ban on this unwanted, unnecessary and unsafe industry.
OK, take your point. So how can I make my submission?
The NYCC would like people to respond via their online forms, but we – and many others – have found these impossible to work with, and they seem designed to drive everyone crazy and stop people making submissions at all. Responding through their forms is not compulsory, only ‘preferable’, according to their statement of representations procedure, so we think that the best way to respond is to email your submission, with your comments as an attachment, to firstname.lastname@example.org . Please put Waste and Minerals Joint Plan Consultation Submission in the subject line.
You must include your name, full address including post code, email address, phone number and organisation (for example, if you’re responding on behalf of a local campaign group, a Parish Council, a charity, or any other organisation).
Note: Please do not say that you are responding on behalf of Frack Free Ryedale, as we will be posting our own submission.
What’s the deadline for submissions?
The deadline is 5 pm on Wednesday 21st December.
Better get on with it, then. Can you give me some guidelines about what to say?
That’s what we’re here for. Please just click on the link below to download a Word Document. All the notes and instructions are included in the document in red.
Then when you’ve finished, simply send it as an attachment to the email address above.
How can I spread the word?
Please email this link to anyone you know who might be interested in submitting a response. You can also download this very useful and informative leaflet, which summarises the main points and is a good ‘entry level’ leaflet for people just getting up to speed.
Thanks for helping!