Rowen takes Ding Quarry fight to Parliament

December 4, 2007 12:00 AM

Rochdale MP Paul Rowen has taken the fight against Ding Quarry to Parliament. Mr Rowen said: "I promised that I would raise this issue in Parliament and I have and will continue to do so. From my discussions in Parliament it seems that this is a problem that is going to face dozens of areas in the North West.

"It's apparent after my questioning that the Government needs to do more on this issue. The Government need to look closely at updating their policy on dormant quarries. Times have changed since the original application was approved just after the war in 1948 and we need to see legislation that offers communities like Rochdale more protection. It is clear though that the changes to the law in 2000, when regulations were introduced applying environmental impact assessments to applications, will help Ding Campaigners. The fact is that any extraction from Ding Quarry will have a significant impact on the environment around Ding Quarry. I am concerned however that there has been no assessment of the economic effects of re-opening dormant quarries. I am encouraged however that the Government have been working with our Council on aspects of this application"

Mr Rowen was featured alongside Environment Spokeswoman Councillor Wera Hobhouse and local campaigners on Sunday's Politics Show on the BBC. The BBC spent a day in Rochdale last week and recorded a live link with a windswept Councillor Hobhouse on Sunday.

Mr Rowen said following the broadcast: "I am glad that I can use my contacts in the media to get much needed publicity for this campaign. We will continue to do this to keep the pressure on the applicants. Despite the fact that the official deadline has expired for objections and comments, residents can still contact our planning department and their views will be listened to. It's not too late to have your say on this issue that will affect thousands of people in Rochdale."

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Mr Rowen's questions to Iain Wright - the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department for Communities and Local Government:

Paul Rowen (Rochdale, Liberal Democrat):

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what discussions she has had with Rochdale metropolitan borough council on the planning application to re-open Ding quarry and the associated environmental impact assessment.

Iain Wright (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Communities and Local Government):

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State would not discuss the application for new operating conditions for Ding quarry in view of her quasi-judicial role in relation to any appeal which might be submitted in the future. The Department has offered informal and general advice to Rochdale metropolitan borough council about the procedure and timescale for applying environmental impact assessment to reviews of mineral permissions for dormant quarries and also about the mineral permission review legislation as it applies to dormant quarries.

Paul Rowen (Rochdale, Liberal Democrat):

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what consideration she has given to the compatibility of existing planning permissions for dormant quarries and planning and environment law.

Iain Wright (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Communities and Local Government)

Planning permissions for active and dormant quarries are compatible with current planning and environment law. However, mineral permissions do differ from other planning permissions in that many were granted just after the Second World War and they can involve continuous development over many years, and sometimes decades. As with other planning permissions, mineral consents and permissions are property rights which cannot, in general, be taken away with without compensation. The Planning and Compensation Act 1991 and the Environment Act 1995 introduced legislation to initially review old mineral permissions granted before 22 February 1982 and then periodically review, at 15 year intervals, all mineral permissions to ensure that operations are in accordance with conditions which reflect the most up to date environmental standards. In 2000, regulations were introduced applying environmental impact assessment to reviews of mineral permissions where the remaining development is likely to have significant effects on the environment.

Paul Rowen (Rochdale, Liberal Democrat):

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent discussions (a) she and (b) her officials have had with quarry owners on re-opening dormant quarries.

Iain Wright (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Communities and Local Government):

Neither Ministers in my Department nor my officials have had recent discussions with quarry owners on re-opening dormant quarries.

Paul Rowen (Rochdale, Liberal Democrat):

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the economic effects of re-opening dormant quarries.

Iain Wright (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Communities and Local Government):

The Department has made no assessment of the economic effects of re-opening dormant quarries.