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Important News For Quarry Operators – The Mining Waste Directive

The European Parliament and the Council of the EU adopted Directive 2006/21/EC on the management of waste from the extractive industries, the Mining Waste Directive (MWD), on 15th March 2006. It introduces measures to prevent or minimise adverse effects on the environment and risks to health from the management of waste from the extractive industries. It applies to waste resulting from the extraction, treatment and storage of mineral resources and the working of quarries.

Member states were required to transpose the directive by 1 May 2008 to ensure that no extractive industry waste facility operated without a permit by 1 May 2012.

The Planning (Management of Waste from Extractive Industries) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010 set out specific requirements on operators for the management of waste material arising from the on-shore prospecting, extraction, treatment and storage of mineral resources and the working of quarries for the purposes of preventing harm to the environment and human health.

The Regulations came into effect on 1 April 2010 and apply to both new and existing sites where the management of extractive waste takes place. The requirements set out in the Regulations are intended to ensure that all extractive waste is managed in a way which is compliant with the Directive.

Operators with planning permission on 1 April 2010 can undertake extractive waste operations until 30 April 2012. To continue after that date, they will need to have obtained approval from the planning authority of a Waste Management Plan (WMP) that demonstrates compliance with the Regulations. For inert waste, the submission and approval will be by letter. Where extractive waste is non-inert (and is managed in waste facility rather than an extractive waste area), or qualifies as a Category A waste facility a planning application is required and permission must be in place by 30 April 2012 to enable the operator to continue to manage extractive waste.

Extractive waste tips at non-operational quarries with current planning permission would be dealt with in the same way as those at operational quarries.  If an operator wishes to maintain all necessary permissions to enable recommencement at any time he should treat the site as operational and make any necessary submissions to obtain permission under Regulation 4 by 1 May 2012.  Otherwise while the principal planning permission remains unaffected operations affecting extractive waste could not be undertaken until planning permission, where relevant, is obtained for that aspect.  That would need an application under Article 28 of the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 as a stand alone proposal, part of a future statutory review or part of a wider development proposal.  Extractive waste tips at old quarries where the consent is classed as dormant require a WMP to be included as part of the submission for reactivation of the consent.

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