Strategic environmental assessment (SEA) and future aggregate extraction : in the East Midlands region

Steadman, E.J.; Mitchell, P.; Highley, D.E.; Harrison, D.J.; Linley, K.A.; Macfarlane, M.; McEvoy, F.. 2004 Strategic environmental assessment (SEA) and future aggregate extraction : in the East Midlands region. Nottingham, UK, British Geological Survey, 105pp. (CR/04/003N) (Unpublished)

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Aggregate development, like all types of development, has to compete for land. However, unlike other forms of development quarrying is a temporary use of land. Quarrying is also a unique form of development because aggregates can only be extracted where they occur. This means extraction is limited to certain geological areas. Often these geological areas are in areas of inherent beauty or value because of the relationship between geology and the landscape. However, quarrying is an essential part of modern society and aggregates are a vital resource for economic growth and development. The entire lifecycle of quarrying activity (from exploration to post-closure) is already well regulated in the UK, and there is little need for additional prescriptive approaches at the individual project level, given the widespread use of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) to predict, prevent and manage potential environmental impacts. However, at a strategic level, there is a lack of appropriate guidance and transparency when considering the cumulative impacts of individual projects. Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is designed to address this issue. SEA, which is complementary to the project-level EIA, is the environmental assessment of a plan or programme before implementation. Although the implementation of SEA in the UK is prescribed by the transposition of an EU directive (2001/42/EC) this does not imply that a host of prescriptive tools and guidance is necessary to support that implementation. However, it does highlight that there will be a growing need for information that is transparent and consistent across regions and that increasingly all stakeholders in the aggregates sector will need good information regarding the location of aggregate resources and the characteristics of the physical and cultural environment in which they occur. This project may help contribute to a SEA by providing a non-prescriptive tool to aid the understanding of the relationship between aggregate resources and the environmental and cultural assets that overlay them. The research aimed to achieve this through the production of a map entitled a ‘future aggregates sensitivity map’. The map shows the gradation between the most and least ‘sensitive’ areas for future aggregate extraction based on the relative significance of environmental and cultural assets in the area. The higher the significance or value of the assets, or the higher the number of assets in the area, the higher the sensitivity score will be. The map was developed through various stages that were integrated in a Geographical Information System (GIS) to produce the map. These stages involved; the development of a method for identifying and scoring environmental and cultural assets, the identification of aggregate resources in the study area, the development of GIS methodologies that could integrate the numerous data layers into one layer for display on the map, and finally stakeholder consultation. The East Midlands Region including the Peak District National Park was chosen as the trial study area in order to test the methodology. The method could however, be applied to other regions. In theory, assets can be defined as anything on which society places a value, or from which something of value arises. Consequently, when considering land underlain by aggregate resources, the list of potential assets is extensive. The focus here was on assets that could reasonably be defined as either environmental or cultural in nature. Defining the relative significance of each asset is potentially a highly subjective and contentious task and a number of methods were used to minimise the subjective element and link asset weighting to one or more externally validated ‘anchor points’. For each asset the policy and law, and planning guidance and regulations, were reviewed in order to ascertain each component’s relative importance or significance.

Item Type: Publication - Report
Programmes: BGS Programmes > Economic Minerals
Funders/Sponsors: British Geological Survey
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This item has been internally reviewed but not externally peer-reviewed
Date made live: 22 Jan 2015 12:47 +0 (UTC)

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