Surrey County Council unanimously supports Green Motion on restoration of mining sites

Surrey County Councillors voted unanimously to support a motion calling for high standards of restoration of mineral sites across the county.

The motion was tabled by Green County Councillor Jonathan Essex, who represents Redhill East.

In introducing the motion, Cllr Essex said,

“Surrey has lots of quarries, active and historic.

“National planning policy requires quarrying to be considered as a temporary activity, and sites to be restored afterwards to what they were before.

“I’ve been privileged to serve on Surrey County Council’s Planning Committee and see the work, that has gone in to the whole process up until when planning permission is granted.

“But planning is only as good as the enforcement that happens afterwards, especially when that enforcement needs to continue 10, 20, 30 years into the future.

“I appreciate things don’t always go to plan. In Redhill East, where I represent, subsequent owners of one restored quarry cut down all the trees which were replanted as part of the site restoration. Another site still lies derelict and contaminated with asbestos after many years. These sites clearly should be restored.

“Surrey has been commended for its proactive approach and there is an example of that further east of Redhill, where the Green Belt landscape has not just been restored but a new green chain of woodlands and nature-rich countryside has been created, which has been given nature conservation status. It has walking routes and cycle paths. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of trees have been planted by volunteers. This Holmesdale Wood area, now designated as one of Surrey’s Biodiversity Opportunity Areas, includes Sibelco’s ex-quarry site, now Mercers Lake,which supports a colony of Daubenton’s, a rare water-loving bat, and windsurfers, a less rare Surrey pastime.

“Surrey is still the only mineral planning authority in the UK that has a post specifically designated for minerals restoration, which has led Surrey to taking a lead in this area. Voluntary and nature conservation organisations have recognised the role Surrey has played, with RSPB stating, ‘Everyone wants to do it Surrey’s way’.

“This motion is calling for such a proactive approach to be sustained across Surrey County Council within the current budget constraints and resources, including continuing and growing this important area of Surrey’s work.”

The Motion was passed unanimously on 11 October 2016.

The text of the motion is as follows:

Restoration-led minerals planning

This Council notes that Surrey County Council is now recognised by the minerals industry, the nature conservation organisations and other Councils as being a lead in best practice achieved through restoration-led planning and enhancement of mineral sites.

This Council believes that it is vital that such full restoration following mineral operation, as a temporary use of sites, is an important part of the way we plan to protect and enhance our Green Belt and countryside going into the future.

This Council agrees to ensuring such proactive approaches and high standards are supported and sustained on all sites across Surrey County Council in the future. 

 

 

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