Planning Portal

PPS 11: Planning and Waste Management
Policy WM 4

Policy WM 4 Land Improvement
The disposal if inert waste by its deposition on land will only be permitted where it is demonstrated that it will result in land improvement and all of the following criteria are met:
  • it will not result in an unacceptable adverse environmental impact that cannot be prevented or appropriately controlled by mitigating measures (see Policy WM 1); and  
  • there is a local need for the development and it can be demonstrated that it is the BPEO;  
  • only the minimum quantity of fill necessary to achieve the proposed improvement shall be deposited;  
  • detailed measures are included for the appropriate restoration and aftercare of sites that will help to enhance bio-diversity.

Justification and Amplification

9.1 The disposal of inert waste by its deposition on farmland and elsewhere has in the past often been inappropriate in terms of sustainable development in that the waste involved was capable of being moved up the waste hierarchy and recycled or reused. Furthermore, the purpose behind such development has, on many occasions, been to dispose of waste in the cheapest way possible and avoid payment of landfill tax, rather than to improve agricultural land quality or facilitate other necessary development.
9.2 Nevertheless, the deposition of inert waste on agricultural or other land can result in an improvement in land quality, for example where steep gradients are reduced and the land re-graded with an adequate surface layer of topsoil. On occasion, deposition of inert waste can facilitate land reclamation for necessary development. The Department recognises, however, that care needs to be taken to ensure that such schemes do not adversely affect nature conservation and heritage interests nor have an unacceptable impact on the landscape (See Policy WM1). Vacant land or land of low agricultural value often provides important habitats for flora and fauna.
9.3 Where it is demonstrated that there is a local need for the deposition of inert waste and it is the BPEO it will also be necessary to consider the environmental impacts for such a proposal (see Policy WM 1).
9.4 Planning permission will be refused where a proposal would have an unacceptable impact on the environment. Where appropriate, conditions will be attached to planning permissions to minimise or compensate for their impact on wildlife or physical features. In some cases it will be necessary to add informatives to an approval informing the applicant of their obligations under the Wildlife Order.
9.5 The main purpose of the proposal should clearly be to improve land quality rather than the disposal of waste. In this regard the quantity of waste to be deposited should be the minimum required to achieve the proposed improvement. Where this is not the case the Department will consider the proposal under Policy WM 3 – Waste Disposal.
9.6 Annex D sets out the circumstances when agricultural land improvement does not require express planning permission.
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