Abolition of Regional Spatial Strategies: a planning vacuum? - Communities and Local Government Committee Contents

Written from Mineral Products Association (ARSS 107)


Continued Government commitment to maintaining an adequate and steady supply of minerals is crucial to the economy and to the interests of our members. RSSs have contributed nothing to the achievement of that steady supply.

The MPA therefore supports the revocation of RSSs provided that suitable mechanisms are in place to ensure that mineral planning authorities have an obligation to act collectively to make provision for an adequate and steady supply of all minerals.

MPA welcomes the statement from the Chief Planner that the longstanding arrangements for minerals planning, including the technical advice provided by the Aggregate Working Parties and the CLG Guidelines for 2005-20 should continue to fulfil an essential role.

There is an urgent need for further clarification from Government in the wake of the revocation action.


The MPA fully supports the submission made by the CBI Minerals Group of which MPA is a member.

The comments in this submission relate principally to aggregates provision which is the business of the majority of our members.

Mineral resources are not distributed evenly across the nation and they can only be worked where they occur. It is essential therefore that there is some coordinating framework to ensure that construction material is supplied where it is needed, in the most sustainable way, even when there is a geological deficit of suitable minerals.

The Managed Aggregates Supply System (MASS) has been successful in fulfilling that role for a period in excess of thirty years. The MASS pre-dates the establishment of RSSs and RSSs have never been essential to that system.

MPA members are of the view that the statutory role of RSSs in planning for aggregates proved to be disruptive in some areas as it provided an opportunity for political influence at an inappropriate stage in the strategic planning process.

The endorsement of the work of the Aggregate Working Parties given by the Chief Planner in his letter of 6 July is welcomed but it must be acknowledged that the revocation of RSSs has caused disruption to the process of producing Development Frameworks.

Some planning authorities (eg Oxfordshire) have already taken the announcement as a signal to ignore Government Guidelines on aggregates provision. In some cases it is patently obvious that authorities have selected a provision tonnage that they feel comfortable with and are then seeking an evidence base to fit in with their aspirations.

To prevent spurious and costly challenges to the recommendations of the Aggregate Working Parties it is essential that Government give guidance as to what constitutes a "robust evidence base". Without early and clear guidance, and against the background of deficient permitted reserves of aggregates ("landbanks") in critical areas, the ability of the industry to maintain an adequate and steady supply of construction materials may be seriously compromised.

Aggregate Working Parties continue to be an effective way of securing an integrated approach to the provision of materials and should be maintained in some form. What should not be forgotten is that the National Coordinating Group of the RAWPs is also part of the MASS and it is the view of the MPA that the role of that body should be affirmed and enhanced to provide high-level integration, particularly in the absence of the RSSs.

September 2010

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