Chapter 4: Minerals, Renewable Energy and Waste Management

Quarry with lots of gravel in heaps


4.1 This chapter deals with minerals, renewable energy and waste management and has a key role in meeting the local plan objectives of promoting sustainable development and minimising environmental impact. These three uses are grouped together in recognition of their potential impact on the environment and their operational links. Minerals are a finite resource which, in accordance with sustainable development principles, should be used wisely. A reduction in the demand for primary mineral resources may be achieved through the promotion of renewable energy alternatives and the recycling and reuse of construction wastes. Once mineral working is completed, restoration of the land is often achieved though the landfill of waste. Renewable energy and waste management operations may be linked through the generation of methane gas from waste disposal sites.

4.2 Minerals are an important strategic resource. In Rural West Edinburgh, the only mineral activity is the extraction of hard rock, mostly for use in the construction industry. There are currently three operational quarries in the area: Hillwood (not currently in production), Bonnington Mains near Ratho and Ravelrig near Balerno. In addition, there are two former quarries within this local plan area, which are included within the Council's Review of Mineral Sites, under the terms of the Environment Act 1995 and Circular 34/1996. These are Craigpark Quarry, a Phase 1 site, and Craigiehill Quarry which is classed as dormant.

4.3 The term 'renewable energy' covers those energy flows which occur naturally and repeatedly in the environment, from the sun, wind, oceans, fall of water or within the earth. Combustible or digestible industrial, agricultural and domestic waste materials are also regarded as renewable sources of energy. In the context of sustainable development, renewable energy has an important contribution to make. As an unlimited resource, it can contribute to society's fundamental needs without depleting non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels.

4.4 Waste management relates to the reduction, reuse, recovery, treatment and disposal of waste. Waste can take a number of forms. Controlled waste as defined by the National Waste Plan 2003 for Scotland covers household, industrial and commercial waste. Other types of waste include that from mines, quarries, agricultural operations and sewage. Waste disposal has traditionally focused on landfill methods using former quarries. Within Rural West Edinburgh, waste disposal operations currently take place at Braehead Quarry, a civic amenity site near Cammo. The location of Edinburgh Airport and the associated risk of creating or worsening bird strike hazards is a major constraint to the development of domestic waste management facilities in a large part of the local plan area.

4.5 The Council is contracted until the year 2020 to transfer by rail the majority of the waste it collects to the landfill site at Oxwellmains near Dunbar. The Council is currently reviewing its waste management arrangements in light of the need to accord with E.C. Directives on waste and to meet recycling targets. The approach taken may have land use implications for this local plan area. The main recycling facility in Edinburgh is outwith this local plan area, at Granton. It recycles items including paper, cardboard, plastics and metals. At present, significant levels of industrial and commercial waste are transported by road for disposal in sites outwith the Council area.

National Planning Context

4.6 NPPG 4: 'Land for Mineral Working', published by the Scottish Executive in April 1994 emphasises that minerals are an important national resource and that the availability of an adequate and steady supply is essential to the economy, the needs of society and the quality of life. However, the Government recognises that in accordance with the objectives of sustainable development, there is a need to strike a balance between the benefits of mineral extraction and impact on the natural and built environment and existing communities.

4.7 NPPG 4 provides policy guidance on individual minerals. It indicates that planning authorities should provide for an adequate and steady supply of aggregates (hardrock, sand and gravel), with landbanks in permitted reserves for 'appropriate local market areas', equivalent to at least ten years' extraction. Market areas can overlap local authority boundaries and joint working between planning authorities will be necessary. The reworking of suitable mineral waste deposits and the recycling of demolition and construction waste is encouraged.

4.8 National guidance and advice on renewable energy is contained in NPPG 6: 'Renewable Energy Developments' (revised in 2000) and PAN 45: 'Renewable Energy Technologies' (revised in 2002). NPPG 6 urges planning authorities to provide positively for renewable energy developments where this can be achieved in an environmentally acceptable manner. Important environmental assets, such as international and national designated areas, features of built heritage and green belt should be protected. Information and advice on various renewable energy technologies, including wind, hydro, wood fuel, waste combustion, wave power, anaerobic digestion and landfill gas are provided in NPPG 6 and PAN 45.

4.9 Government policy on waste management is set out in NPPG10: 'Planning and Waste Management' and the 'National Waste Strategy for Scotland 1999' (NWS). The main requirements of the NPPG are to: encourage development which will assist in the reduction, reuse and recovery of waste; provide for facilities as close as is reasonable to the source of waste production, taking into account the safeguarding of the natural and built environment; and to make provision for civic amenity sites, and as appropriate, recycling centres. The NWS provides a framework within which Scotland can reduce the amount of waste which it produces and deal with the waste which has been produced in more sustainable ways. The strategy has been developed through the establishment of waste strategy areas and the preparation of area waste plans.

Strategic Context

4.10 Over half of all aggregates consumed in Edinburgh and the Lothians are imported from other parts of Scotland. In September 1993, a number of local authorities came together to form the 'East Central Scotland Minerals Consortium' to undertake a joint study on the supply of aggregates for the Lothian market area. An interim report was published in January 1996 which outlined the findings of a review of aggregate workings in the market area and sets out an approach to identifying preferred areas for sand and gravel extraction. Further work relating to the Lothian market area may have implications for minerals policy affecting Rural West Edinburgh.

4.11 The Edinburgh and the Lothians Structure Plan 2015 takes full account of advice given in NPPG 4. It indicates that economically important mineral resources should not be sterilised, or their extraction hindered, by permanent development. It seeks to address the conflict between the need for extraction and the protection of the environment by controlling mineral activity in environmentally sensitive areas such as the Green Belt, SSSIs and the Pentland Hills Regional Park. As there appears to be sufficient permitted reserves of hardrock within the Lothians to meet demand, at least in the early part of the plan period, only proposals for the winning and working of hardrock related to existing workings should be permitted. The adequacy of supply of both sand and gravel and hard rock will be reviewed towards the end of the structure plan period.

4.12 The Structure Plan accords with national planning policy which supports the development of renewable energy resources where the technology can operate efficiently and environmental impacts can be addressed satisfactorily. While a number of areas in Edinburgh and the Lothians have potential for renewable energy developments, the scope for exploiting these is limited by environmental constraints.

4.13 The Edinburgh and the Lothians Structure Plan 2015 requires local plans to have regard to the provisions of the Lothian and Borders Area Waste Plan. This plan was published by SEPA and prepared jointly by SEPA, the Lothian authorities, Scottish Borders Council and representatives of the waste industry, local enterprise companies and not-for-profit organisations.

4.14 In April 2002 Scottish Water assumed responsibility for water and waste water services in the areas previously covered by the three former water authorities in Scotland. The E.C. Directive on urban waste water treatment required its predecessor, East of Scotland Water, to stop disposal of sewage sludge into the Forth Estuary and prevent unacceptable discharges into the River Almond by January 1999. The requirements were met through the Almond Valley and Seafield Environmental Project. The E.C. Directive also required the level of treatment at the Queensferry waste water treatment works at Port Edgar,which provided preliminary treatment for waste water flows from the local community, to be upgraded. A new treatment works will be constructed by 2005 to meet the E.C. Directive.

Local Plan Objectives

4.15 National and structure plan policy highlights the need to provide positively for the working of mineral resources to meet society's needs. However, it also states that mineral extraction should not have a detrimental impact on areas of environmental significance, which form a high proportion of the local plan area. Similarly, proposals for waste management facilities and renewable energy developments should not be permitted where the environmental quality of an area would be threatened. The challenge is to reconcile the need to make adequate provision for such activities with the overriding local plan objectives of achieving sustainable development and protecting the environment. Accordingly, this local plan seeks to:

Policies and Proposals


4.16 Minerals are an important natural resource which make a significant contribution to the national and local economy and can only be worked where they occur. It is, therefore, important that, wherever practicable, economically viable mineral deposits are protected from sterilisation by permanent development. From the information available, the only mineral resource within the local plan area likely to be economically viable at the present time, is igneous rock or hardrock. A significant proportion of these deposits lie under parts of the Green Belt, Areas of Great Landscape Value, wildlife sites and SSSIs, prime quality agricultural land, areas of archaeological significance and historic and designed landscapes. New development is strictly controlled within these areas and, therefore, conflict between protecting mineral resources and proposals, which would prevent their future extraction, is likely to be minimal.

Policy M1 - Protection of Mineral Resources

Development will not be permitted where it would sterilise or seriously hinder the extraction of economically important minerals, unless it is essential to meet immediate structure plan development requirements, and phasing to allow the removal of minerals is not possible.

4.17 It is important to strike a balance between maintaining an adequate supply of minerals and protecting the environment. In accordance with NPPG 4 and the ELSP 2015, mineral workings should not be permitted where they would have an unacceptable impact on areas of European, national or local importance in terms of nature conservation, landscape and built heritage. In addition, mineral workings can also have a significant impact on nearby communities in terms of traffic generation, noise, dust, vibration and visual intrusion. These issues are of particular concern in areas where there is already a concentration of mineral workings.

4.18 The local plan policy framework for minerals will be applied to proposals for peat extraction. However, it is recognised that peatlands have special nature conservation value. In accordance with NPPG 4, the Council will consult SNH and Historic Scotland on all proposals for the commercial extraction of peat.

Policy M2 - Environmental Constraints on Mineral Extraction

  1. Mineral development likely to adversely affect a site designated or proposed under the Habitats and Birds Directives (Special Areas of Conservation or Special Protection Areas) or a Ramsar Site will only be permitted where an appropriate assessment of the implications for the site's conservation objectives indicates that:
    • it will not adversely affect the integrity of the site; or
    • there is no alternative solution and there are imperative reasons of overriding public interest, including those of a social or economic reason.
  2. Mineral development, which would adversely affect a Site of Special Scientific Interest or other area of national importance, will only be permitted where:
    • the objective of the designation and the overall integrity of the area will not be compromised; or
    • any significant adverse effects on the qualities for which the area has been designated are clearly outweighed by social or economic benefits of national importance.
  3. Mineral developments affecting the following areas of environmental significance will only be permitted where the objectives and overall integrity of the designated area will not be compromised or, where there is an overriding public interest in support of mining which outweighs the conservation interest of the site:
    1. The Green Belt;
    2. The Pentland Hills Regional Park;
    3. Areas of Great Landscape Value;
    4. Local Nature Reserves;
    5. Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation;
    6. Areas of Archaeological Significance and their settings;
    7. Conservation Areas and their settings;
    8. Prime Agricultural Land, or where the viability of a farm unit would be threatened;
    9. Water Supply Catchment Areas; and
    10. Peatland.
  4. Development which would harm the character, appearance or setting of the following designated built or cultural heritage sites, or the specific features which justify their designation, will be resisted:
    • Listed Buildings
    • Scheduled Ancient Monuments
    • Sites listed in the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes
  5. Where damaging development is permitted, which affects any designated site of nature or other listed conservation value, the Council will normally require appropriate mitigating measures to improve and safeguard the remaining interest.

Policy M3 - Additional Constraints on Mineral Extraction

Proposals for new or extended mineral workings will only be permitted where they would not:

  1. generate an unacceptable level of traffic to the detriment of amenity, air quality or road safety;
  2. cause unacceptable disturbance and nuisance, in particular in relation to dust, noise, blasting and vibration and visual intrusion, to the detriment of residential amenity;
  3. pose an unacceptable risk to ground water quality and ground stability;
  4. cause unacceptable harm to a protected plant or species, or its habitat, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 or the Protection of Badgers Act 1992; or
  5. lead to an unacceptable, cumulative impact on local communities or environmental quality, as a result of being located close to existing operational workings and unimplemented consents.

4.19 The Structure Plan notes that there are sufficient supplies of hard rock, at least for the early part of the plan period. Towards the end of the structure plan period, the adequacy of the supply of minerals will be reviewed and a structure plan alteration pursued, if necessary.

4.20 In Rural West Edinburgh, new hard rock workings will be limited to land in and adjacent to the mineral sites currently in operation at Hillwood, Bonnington Mains and Ravelrig. The sites which currently have planning permission for mineral working are identified on the Proposals Map. Proposals for hard rock extraction should also meet the criteria outlined in Policies M2 and M3.

Policy M4 - Areas of Search for Hard Rock Extraction

The working of hard rock will only be permitted in or adjacent to existing mineral sites where planning permission has already been granted for extraction, at Hillwood, Ravelrig and Bonnington Mains quarries.

4.21 Once mineral working has stopped, the land should be made suitable for appropriate alternative uses at the earliest opportunity. This can be enabled by the phased restoration of the site during the life of the operation. In accordance with the 'polluter pays' principle, the Council will impose conditions on minerals planning consents to ensure the satisfactory restoration of the site. There are a wide range of possible after-uses for former mineral workings, including agriculture, forestry, sport and recreation, and nature conservation. In accordance with NPPG 4, the Council will expect site operators to undertake regular monitoring and, where appropriate, prepare environmental audits. If necessary, remedial measures should be undertaken in order to safeguard the environment of the site and surrounding area.

Policy M5 - Restoration, Aftercare and After-use

Where permission is granted for mineral extraction, the Council will impose appropriate conditions to secure a satisfactory programme for the phased restoration, aftercare and beneficial after-use of the site. The operator will be required to undertake regular monitoring of the site and prepare environmental audits, as specified by the Council.

4.22 In 1990, mineral working ceased at Craigpark Quarry, which is located adjacent to the western edge of Ratho, and to the south of the Union Canal. A cement-batching plant operates on part of the site. It is understood that there are still reserves available within the site. As no application for modern planning conditions was submitted by 30 June 1999, under the terms of the Council's Review of Mineral Sites, as required by the Environment Act 1995 and Circular 34/1996, the site's planning consent has now lapsed. In accordance with Policy M1, the Council would normally seek to safeguard the mineral reserves at Craigpark Quarry. However, due to the quarry's proximity to Ratho and the Union Canal, which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a SINC, mineral working at this location is unlikely to meet the criteria set out in Policy M2 and Policy M3, particularly in relation to traffic impact and the adverse affect on local amenity and the canal.

4.23 The Council, therefore, supports in principle alternative appropriate uses for Craigpark Quarry. The site provides an opportunity for proposals which respect its location adjacent to Ratho and the Union Canal and existing woodland features. Consideration will require to be given to the transport implications of any proposal, particularly in terms of traffic generation and accessibility by public transport. Countryside and water-related recreational uses are preferred. The particular location of Craigpark Quarry, next to Ratho, would allow a restricted amount of housing as detailed in para 5.28 of the Housing chapter to be considered, but only if it is located immediately adjacent to the village of Ratho so as to form a small, linked extension of the village. The Council will prepare a full development brief for this site.

Policy M6 - Reuse of Former Craigpark Quarry

The Council will support proposals for the beneficial reuse of Craigpark Quarry, as defined on the Proposals Map, provided:

  1. provision is made for safe access to, and appropriate reuse of, the quarry void and there is no unacceptable impact on the amenity of local residents or the Union Canal;
  2. the transport implications of the proposal accord with the Council's Local Transport Strategy;
  3. the housing element supported in Policy H2 is limited to no more than 80 dwellings, unless it is demonstrated that a larger number of dwellings is necessary to fund the minimum acceptable restoration of the quarry;
  4. existing trees are protected, where possible; and
  5. the proposal is in accordance with the overall plan strategy and other relevant plan policies.

Renewable Energy

4.24 The Council recognises the benefits of renewable energy developments in terms of meeting the aims of sustainable development. In accordance with NPPG 6 (revised 2000), PAN 45 and the ELSP 2015, this plan seeks to encourage renewable energy development, where this can be achieved in an environmentally acceptable manner. Where a proposed development is likely to have significant effects on the environment, the Council will decide whether an Environmental Assessment should be undertaken. In the event that a proposal cannot be reconciled with the protection of important environmental assets and other interests, the Council will not permit development unless the developer can demonstrate specific environmental, social or economic benefits of national significance.

Policy M7 - Renewable Energy

Proposals for development for the generation of renewable energy will be permitted unless there would be unacceptable harm to a designated or proposed Special Area of Conservation, Special Protection Area or Ramsar site, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, or other area of national importance or any of the following environmentally significant areas:

  • The Green Belt;
  • The Pentland Hills Regional Park;
  • Area of Great Landscape Value;
  • Local Nature Reserves or Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation;
  • Historic and Designed Landscapes and their settings;
  • Scheduled Ancient Monuments or other Areas of Archaeological Significance and their settings;
  • Listed Buildings, Conservation Areas and their settings;
  • Prime agricultural land, or where the viability of a farm unit would be threatened;
  • Water Catchment Areas;
  • Peatland.
In addition, proposals will not be permitted where they would:

  • unacceptably affect the amenity of local residents in terms of noise emission, light intrusion or visual dominance;
  • result in an unacceptable level of traffic generation to the detriment of amenity and road safety; or
  • be unacceptable in terms of siting, design and landscaping details, taking account of operational requirements.

Proposals which do not meet the above criteria may be permitted where wider environmental, social or economic benefits of national significance outweigh any adverse impact. All proposals for wind turbine developments will be referred to the operator of Edinburgh Airport.

Waste Management

4.25 The Lothian and Borders Area Waste Plan promotes a best practicable environmental option (BPEO) for dealing with waste and sets targets and actions for waste minimisation, recycling and composting of rubbish that will progressively reduce disposal of bio-degradable waste to landfill sites. It also describes the type of waste management facilities that will be required in future years to implement the BPEO for municipal solid waste, mixed waste and indoor windrow composters, waste transfer stations, an expansion of the current network of recycling sites and continued landfill capacity.

4.26 The planning system must plan positively for the necessary waste management infrastructure needed to implement the BPEO. The Area Waste Plan will be a material consideration in assessing the acceptability of proposals for new waste management facilities. With Edinburgh generating the majority of waste in Lothian and the Borders, the city, including this local plan area, will be expected to take a reasonable proportion of those new facilities that are required, subject to environmental and amenity considerations.

4.27 The Council seeks to make adequate provision for waste management facilities without reducing the quality of the environment. Waste management operations can take a number of different forms, including waste disposal, recovery and recycling facilities, and sewage treatment facilities. However, they all have the potential to raise similar planning issues in terms of impact on the environment and local communities. The Council is aware of concerns about health risks expressed by residents living in the vicinity of waste management facilities. The Council will seek advice from Lothian Health Board and other relevant sources regarding any potential health risks associated with waste management proposals. In addition, waste management facilities, if poorly sited in relation to the source of waste and alternative transport options, can result in significant levels of road traffic movement. In order to meet sustainable development objectives and reduce the impact of traffic on local communities, proposals should address the issues of the 'proximity principle' and the transportation of waste by rail. Consideration should also be given to the 'precautionary principle' in order to avoid possible environmental damage in the future.

Policy M8 - Waste Management - General Principles

The Council supports the concept of a waste management hierarchy. Applications for planning permission for waste management facilities will be determined in accordance with the Lothian and Borders Area Waste Plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. There will be a presumption against permitting development that would conflict with the Area Waste Plan. Proposals should take account of the proximity and precautionary principles and minimise waste movements, wherever practicable. Preference will be given to facilities which can be accessed by rail.

Policy M9 - Environmental Constraints on Waste Management

Waste management proposals will be permitted unless they are likely to:

  1. cause unacceptable harm to a designated or proposed Special Area of Conservation, Special Protection Area or Ramsar Site, a Site of Special Scientific Interest or other area of national importance or any of the areas of environmental significance set out in Policy M2 (C);
  2. cause harm to a protected plant or species or its habitat under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 or the Protection of Badgers Act 1992;
  3. result in an unacceptable level of traffic generation to the detriment of amenity and road safety;
  4. cause undue disturbance and nuisance, in particular, in relation to dust, noise, litter, odour, flies and visual intrusion, to the detriment of residential amenity;
  5. result in unacceptable risks to human health; or
  6. pose an unacceptable risk in terms maintaining ground water quality.

4.28 The Lothians and Borders Area Waste Plan states that, of the total waste arising in Lothian and the Borders in 2001, 94% was landfilled. The Area Waste Plan intends to reduce this to 23% by 2020. This reflects the fact that landfill occupies a place at the bottom of the waste hierarchy - in other words it is the least desirable waste management option. Progress has been made in waste reduction and recycling initiatives but the continued demand for waste disposal capacity is likely to be significant over the plan period. Waste disposal operations, including landfilling and landraising, give rise to particular concerns which need to be addressed in the determination of planning applications. Landfill involves disposal of material in voids left by previous excavation work and can be of assistance in proposals to restore derelict land. Landraising involves depositing material on and above existing ground level and is only likely to be acceptable where it would lead to the enhancement of an area of derelict or degraded land.

4.29 Proposals for phased site restoration, aftercare and reuse will form an integral part of the overall assessment of waste disposal applications. Operators will be required to carry out regular monitoring within and in the vicinity of the site to ensure that the off-site impact of any noise, odours, discharges or other identified nuisance does not exceed the levels set out in conditions attached to the relevant planning permission.

Policy M10 - Additional Constraints on Waste Disposal

In addition to the requirements of Policy M9, proposals for waste disposal through landfill or landraising operations will only be permitted where:

  1. they would result in the restoration of a former quarry or an area of derelict or degraded land or, if they involve land raise, it has been demonstrated that there is no suitable alternative;
  2. extensive testing of ground conditions has been carried out;
  3. the Council is satisfied that no hazard would result to existing or proposed buildings;
  4. they would not pose an unacceptable risk to aviation in terms of birdstrike hazard;
  5. a phased programme of restoration, aftercare and after-use is submitted as part of a planning application; and
  6. regular monitoring of the site will be carried out at the operator's expense at agreed intervals and the results submitted to the Council.

4.30 Former waste disposal sites and areas of reclaimed land may constrain development because they can still cause surface movement or contamination, or generate leachate gas discharge and atmospheric pollution. These may affect the site and adjoining land. Land which has been used for the deposit of waste within the last 30 years, and land in or adjacent to existing and closed waste disposal sites, is unlikely to be suitable for certain forms of development, in particular housing. It is, therefore, important that any planning application for development within 250 metres of existing or former waste disposal sites is accompanied by a detailed ground condition survey.

Policy M11 - Development Close to Waste Disposal Sites

A development proposal shall be accompanied by a detailed ground condition survey if:

  1. the site of the proposed development is within 250 metres of a former waste disposal site; or
  2. the site of the proposed development is likely to be adversely affected by surface movement, contamination, landfill gas, leachate or atmospheric pollution from any former or currently operational waste disposal site.

Development proposals to which this policy applies will be approved only where the Council is fully satisfied that no adverse effect on any person's health and no adverse effect on the environment would arise as a result of the relationship between the proposals and any waste disposal site.

4.31 As outlined in para 4.14, the E.C. Directive on Urban Waste Water Treatment required the implementation of the Almond Valley and Seafield Environmental project. The Newbridge Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW) was part of this project. It required upgrading and increased capacity to comply with relevant environmental legislation and service new development in Rural West Edinburgh and parts of West Lothian in accordance with the Lothian Structure Plan 1994 strategy. The proposed upgrading and extension to Newbridge WWTW has now been completed, allowing the works to accommodate discharge from the existing settlements and any development proposed within the local plan. Scottish Water are looking to bring treatment in the Queensferry catchment area up to standard in order to meet the Directive's requirements, through the construction of a new plant by 2005. A site for this plant has been identified in the rural area to the west of Queensferry and planning permission was granted in April 2005. As above, this will accommodate discharge from existing settlements and any development proposed within the Finalised Rural West Edinburgh Local Plan.

4.32 Scottish Water is operating on the principle of 'first come, first served' and spare capacities will not be reserved for sites identified in development plans. As a consequence, there will be a greater reliance on developers to pay for new or enhanced treatment work or network capacities needed to serve development.

Policy M12 - New Sewerage Infrastructure

The Council will work with Scottish Water to prioritise the necessary infrastructure to serve the development proposed in this local plan.

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