Policy WMT5 Land Improvement

A proposal for the disposal of inert waste by its deposition on land will be permitted where it meets the General Policy and accords with other provisions of the LDP. In addition, the applicant will be required to demonstrate that it will result in land improvement and all the following criteria are met:

  1. It will not result in an unacceptable adverse environmental impact that cannot be prevented or appropriately controlled by mitigating measures (see Policy WMT1 Environmental Impact of a Waste Management Facility);
  2. There is a local need for the development;
  3. Only the minimum quantity of fill necessary to achieve the proposed improvement shall be deposited; and
  4. Detailed measures are included and secured for the appropriate restoration and aftercare of sites that will help to enhance biodiversity.

Justification and Amplification

For the purposes of this policy, inert waste is defined as waste material that does not undergo any significant physical, chemical or biological transformations when deposited. This policy seeks to ensure that proposals for the disposal of inert waste by deposition on farmland and elsewhere results in land improvement and in so doing so minimises environmental impact, meets a demonstrated need, and leads to appropriate restoration. Such proposals are often inappropriate in terms of sustainable development in that the waste involved is capable of being moved up the waste hierarchy and recycled or reused. However the usual motive for such development is to dispose of waste in the cheapest way possible and avoid payment of landfill tax, rather than to improve agricultural land quality or facilitate other necessary development.

Nevertheless, the deposition of inert waste on agricultural or other land can result in an improvement in land quality in certain circumstances, for example where steep gradients are reduced and the land re-graded with an adequate surface layer of topsoil. Deposition of inert waste can also facilitate land reclamation for necessary development. It is recognised, however, that care needs to be taken to ensure that such schemes do not adversely affect landscape quality, nature conservation or heritage interests. Vacant land or land of low agricultural value often provides important habitats for flora and fauna.

Where it is demonstrated that there is a local need for the deposition of inert waste, it will also be necessary to consider the full range of potential environmental impacts. Therefore, all planning applications for land improvement will also be assessed against Policy WMT1 Environmental Impact of a Waste Management Facility, and the principles of sustainable waste management.

Planning permission will be refused where a proposal would have an unacceptable impact on the environment. Where appropriate, conditions will be attached to planning permissions to minimise or compensate for their impact on wildlife or physical features. In some cases it will be necessary to add informatives to an approval informing the applicant of their obligations under the Wildlife Order. Applicants will also have to obtain a relevant waste management authorisation from NIEA i.e. a waste management licence or waste exemption.

The main purpose of this policy is to facilitate proposals intended to improve land quality rather than the disposal of waste. In this regard the quantity of waste to be deposited should be the minimum required to achieve the proposed improvement, and generally up to 2 metres maximum, unless in exceptional circumstances. Where this is not the case the Council will consider the proposal under Policy WMT3 Waste Disposal Sites. Applicants should also familiar themselves with the circumstances when agricultural improvement does not require express planning permission.