Policy MIN2 Valuable Minerals

There will not be a presumption against the exploitation of valuable minerals, including metalliferous minerals in any area, apart from within designated Special Countryside Areas.

For all other areas, but particularly within areas designated for their landscape quality or their importance for nature conservation or the historic environment, Council will apply a cautious approach in assessing applications for the exploitation of valuable minerals. This will require all such proposals to comply with Policy MIN1.

All proposals must meet the General Policy and accord with other provisions of the LDP.

Justification and Amplification

There are extensive tracts of land currently in licence in the Borough for precious metal and base metal exploration). Where such high value metalliferous materials or hydrocarbons are found and considered economically viable to extract, there will not be presumption against their exploitation in any area of the Borough, except for Special Countryside Areas.

Special Countryside Areas in Mid and East Antrim, both existing and proposed, are relatively limited in extent, and in line with the SPPS, are designated in recognition that they are the most exceptional areas in the Borough, wherein the quality of the landscape and unique amenity value is such, that development should only be permitted in exceptional circumstances. Accordingly, any form of minerals development will inevitably have a significant impact and should only be allowed in circumstances where it is of such national or regional importance as to outweigh any potential adverse impact on the Special Countryside Area.

In other designated areas such as the AONB or areas designated for their nature conservation, scientific or historic significance; Council will give due weight to the impact of the proposal on the integrity of the designation. The rationale for the designation must not be undermined by the minerals development proposal.

Exploration for such high value metalliferous minerals can normally be carried out under permitted development legislation. However where planning permission is required, full consideration will be given to the potential environmental, amenity and health and safety impacts and risks.

This policy does not negate the directions restricting permitted development under Class A.1 (B) of Part 16 (Minerals Exploration) of the Planning (General Permitted Development) Order (Northern Ireland) 2015 which does not permit any operation within an Area of Special Scientific Interest or site of archaeological interest.