Minerals and Waste
Mineral and Waste Planning
Planning for the removal of minerals is a specialist subject and Sworders has been successfully promoting sites through mineral plans for over 20 years. There are not only opportunities to promote sites through County Mineral Plan processes but, in addition, windfall opportunities arising for irrigation, reservoirs and, occasionally, leisure schemes.
For those mineral sites, the value of the void space should not be underestimated. In recent years a void space has generally become less valuable as the proportion of aggregates recycled has gradually increased. This has led to more ingenious planning approaches being required to extract value.
Of further interest is the ability to re-work historic waste sites where much of the content was crushed concrete. In some cases, this means that ground that was otherwise unsuitable for housing development is re-instated in a manner that makes it suitable. On occasion, if the site is close to existing settlements in a high value planning area, the site can be re-dug with very positive results.
Mineral and Waste Leases
Typically, large scale aggregate sites are worked by mineral operators rather than the landowners themselves and rather than selling the freehold, a minerals lease is generally the preferred approach of many landowners. This keeps longer term control of the site and enables some shorter term control over operations. It can also generate a significant income from royalties, both for minerals and waste, as well as rents for any ancillary plant uses that can be achieved on the site during its lifetime.
It is important to carefully consider the terms of any lease as there are far too many examples of mineral leases which have allowed operators to run some quite major recycling plants and, in some cases, recycling ten times as much material as the void space within the site, without the landowner receiving any additional rent.
Mineral and Waste Options
Mineral options, like options for housing land, require specialist advice. However, it is easier to protect a landowner’s position with a minerals option because of the ability to create an approach where it is linked to a number of fall-back scenarios, including reference to open market and reference to an aggregate index and a minimum sum per tonne overall.
Typically, insufficient time and thought is given to mineral options and the leases that sit alongside them but it is important to ensure that terms for a detailed lease are negotiated at the time of entering into a minerals option so that those terms are fixed in advance and the landowner knows the basis of any long term relationship with a minerals’ operator if they are successful in obtaining planning.