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Magherafelt Area Plan 2015
Strategic Plan Framework: Minerals

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Mineral resources within Magherafelt District range from peat, diatomite, limestone, basalt, igneous rock and sand and gravel. Currently peat is extracted and processed at two sites both located just west of the River Bann. The diatomite resource west of Toomebridge is currently inactive. Building and roadstone aggregates are produced from a number of the hard rock quarries lying between Knockcloghrim and Moneymore. As well as producing primary crushed rock for use as hardcore many quarries further crush the material to produce finer aggregate which can be used in a range of secondary processes. Such processes include ready-use concrete, bitumen macadam production and the manufacture of concrete products. These processes increase the value of the aggregates and enable the quarries to compete over greater distances.
Extraction of sand and gravel within Magherafelt occurs at a number of locations. One of the main sources of sand and gravel is Lough Neagh. Lough sand is brought ashore by barge before being processed at one of four land based sites located between Creagh Road / Airfield Road and the northern shoreline of the Lough. Existing land based extraction sites are located in the Sperrin Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to the north and east of Lough Fea. Outside the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty there are other smaller sand and gravel operations stretching from near Moneymore in the south to Tobermore in the north.
A survey of existing sand and gravel operations in Magherafelt District carried out in 2001 indicated production figures for the year 2000 of approximately 960,000 tonnes. Reserves in Lough Neagh have not been estimated.

Regional Policy Context

The Regional Development Strategy (RDS) includes the following guidelines:
  • to maintain a working countryside with a strong mixed use rural economy; and
  • to make use of minerals for economic development in a sustainable manner and in a way which assesses the need to exploit the mineral resource against the need to protect and conserve environmental resources.
Prevailing regional planning policies for mineral development are set out in the Rural Strategy. This contains a range of policies for the control of mineral developments including peat extraction, 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.
The policies contained in PPS2 - Planning and Nature Conservation - provide protection for the full range of sites of nature conservation importance, including peatlands.
PPS 6 - Planning, Archaeology and the Built Heritage - sets out the policies for the protection and conservation of archaeological remains and features of the built heritage and embodies the Government's commitment to sustainable development and environmental stewardship.
Policy MN 1 Hydrocarbon Exploration
In the event that hydrocarbon exploration identifies the possibility of commercially viable reserves of oil or gas, their exploitation will be considered in the context of the short and long term suitability of the site. Applications which would have a significant adverse impact on the environment will not be permitted.
Limited hydrocarbon exploration has occurred north of Lough Neagh, near Toome, in the early 1990’s. Future exploration under license may identify deposits of oil or gas which are particularly valuable to the Northern Ireland economy. Hydrocarbon extraction is a site specific operation with any potential environmental effects being dependant on the methods used at that site.  Applications will be treated on their individual merits having regard to the impact of the specific development on nearby residents, and sites or features designated for their scientific, landscape or heritage interests.
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