We are delighted to say that Worcestershire County Council’s planning department has taken on board all of the comments from Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust (H&W EHT) in the latest and final version of the Local Minerals Plan. In particular, the International importance of the Severn and Avon river terraces has been acknowledged.
The plan recognises that all mineral sites offer opportunities to enhance scientific and cultural understanding of geodiversity by revealing, recording or retaining features of geological conservation interest. For each application, an appropriate level of technical assessment is to be undertaken by an appropriate and competent earth heritage expert. Adverse effects on features of geological interest are to be avoided or reduced, or in some cases, compensation through mitigation measures might be accepted, depending on the nature and importance of the site. For example, while we might expect that all damage to SSSI’s be avoided, some damage to sites with the ‘lesser’ status of Local SItes might be unavoidable.
The river terraces are not generally designated sites, but it is recognised that they have the potential to expose features of geological interest, and the technical assessment would need to consider what damage reduction and/or mitigation measures are appropriate. Mitigation measures might involve recording information about the site’s geology as it is revealed through the mineral extraction process, and disseminating the information through information boards in the restoration phase of the site. H&W EHT is to be consulted on this process.
The full text of the plan can be found at: http://www.worcestershire.gov.uk/info/20657/emerging_minerals_local_plan_consultation_stages/373/emerging_minerals_local_plan_previous_consultation_stages/8
It has been seven years in the making, but the plan is finally going to the Secretary of State for approval. The next challenge will be to ensure the intended provision for Earth Heritage is borne out in practice. This will require active participation in the planning process to ensure planned measures are appropriate and adequate, and vigilance on the part of local geologists to ensure that promised actions are carried out.