Dungannon and South Tyrone Area Plan 2010
Policy Framework: Minerals
Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough is the main mineral source of the clay brick industry in Northern Ireland. Reserves of this mineral are concentrated northwest of Coalisland. In addition, building and road-stone aggregates are produced from a number of quarries in the Borough. Sand and gravel deposits are relatively more confined. One of the principal concentrations of sand and gravel is to be found north of the A4 Ballygawley to Dungannon Road. The largest concentration of hard rock quarries is located north of the village of Cappagh, while reserves of shale used in the manufacture of cement are found on the outskirts of Dungannon in the townland of Derraghadoan. Commercial peat extraction also takes place in the east of the Borough in the low-lying areas round the southwest shores of Lough Neagh.
Regional Policy Context
The Regional Development Strategy (RDS) includes the following guidelines:
- to maintain a working countryside with a strong mixed use rural economy;
- to encourage the wise use and management of environmental resources in the interest of future generations; and
- to use minerals for economic development in a sustainable manner and in a way which assesses the need to exploit the mineral resources against the need to protect and conserve environmental resources.
The Department's regional planning policy for mineral development in Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough is set out in A Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland. This contains a range of policies for the control of mineral development taking into account environmental protection, visual amenity, public safety and traffic considerations. It also includes policies for mineral reserves, valuable minerals, areas of constraint on mineral developments and restoration of mineral workings.
Planning Policy Statement 2: Planning and Nature Conservation contains the policies for protection of peatland sites. Government policy on peat extraction is also expressed in 'Conserving Peatland in Northern Ireland - A Statement of Policy', and is supplemented by the policies contained in A Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland.
By their nature, scale, location and duration of operation, mineral developments frequently impact more severely on the environment than any other form of development. They can damage or destroy sites of nature conservation or earth science value and sites of historic and archaeological interest. They can also have a significant visual impact on the landscape and an adverse effect on the amenity of people living nearby.
Areas of Constraint on Mineral Developments (ACMDs) are designated in order to safeguard the most valuable and vulnerable areas and features of the environment within Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough from the detrimental effects of mineral extraction. Their designation has taken account of nature conservation and earth science interest, the archaeological and built heritage, landscape quality and character and visual prominence.
The Lough Neagh Western Shores Area of Constraint on Mineral Developments coincides with the boundaries of the Lough Neagh & Lough Beg Ramsar Site within Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough. In addition to the Clogher Valley, the Plan also designates four long-established Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs) as Areas of Constraint on Mineral Developments. The Clogher Valley, Lough Neagh Western Shores and Slieve Beagh ACMDs are identified on Borough Map Nos. 1 a and 1 b, with the ACMDs that are related to the sites of nature conservation importance being identified on Map Nos. 95, 96, 100, 105 and 107.
It should be noted that ASSIs, as sites of national nature conservation importance, are continually under review and several new sites have been designated in recent years. Whilst this Plan does not formally designate the recent sites as ACMDs, it is likely that the conservation interests at such sites will also act as a major constraint on mineral developments. Further information on the ASSIs is included in the Conservation section of the Plan.
The Department's regional planning policy for the control of mineral development within the ACMDs is set out in Policy MIN 3 of A Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland.
These designations at Dungannon and Coalisland will protect mineral reserves that are needed in the manufacture of cement and clay bricks respectively. In Coalisland, the Mineral Reserve Policy Area is located both north and south of Derry Road and west of Derryvale Road. The area south of Derry Road has received planning permission for extraction. The Departments regional planning policy for these areas is set out in Policy MIN 5 of A Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland.
Whilst no hydrocarbon exploration is currently taking place within Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough, future exploration under licence may identify deposits of oil or gas, minerals which are particularly valuable to the Northern Ireland economy. Exploitation may create environmental effects that are particular to the methods of extraction or treatment of that mineral. The Department will not therefore operate a general presumption against their exploitation in any part of the Borough, including Areas of Constraint on Mineral Developments. Rather, applications will be treated on their merits having regard to impact of the specific development on nearby residents and sites, features or areas designated for their scientific, landscape or heritage interests.