PAN 64: Reclamation of Surface Mineral Workings
13 January 2003
Dear Sir or Madam
PLANNING ADVICE NOTE 64: RECLAMATION OF SURFACE MINERAL WORKINGS
I am pleased to enclose Planning Advice Note 64: Reclamation for Surface Mineral Workings. It gives advice on how mineral operators and planning authorities can ensure that mineral workings are reclaimed to a high standard as soon as possible after working has ceased.
Please note that the advice in PAN 64 incorporates the remaining extant information from Scottish Development Department Circulars 49/1978 Report of the Committee on Planning Controls over Mineral Working and 5/1982 The Town and Country Planning (Minerals) Act 1981 Explanatory Memorandum into the Planning Series. These Circulars are now cancelled.
Enquiries about the content of this advice note should be addressed to Ben Train, Area 2-H81, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ, telephone 0131 244 7532. It can be viewed at www.scotland.gov.uk/planning. Further copies of the advice note are available from Planning Services, 2H, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ, telephone 0131 244 7543, or e-mail john.stuksis @scotland.gsi.gov.uk.
I attach a copy(ies) for your information.
1. The continued working of primary minerals is necessary to meet society's demands for construction and other purposes, although there is an increasing use of recycled and secondary materials (particularly in the provision of materials for the construction industry). A key aim of Scottish Executive policy is to ensure that land worked for minerals is reclaimed as soon as possible after working has ceased. To achieve this mineral operators and planning authorities need to ensure that satisfactory reclamation procedures are in place before, during and after extraction to bring land back to an acceptable condition.
2. Reclamation of surface mineral workings can enhance derelict and degraded areas, remove ground instability caused by old mineral workings, create habitats, improve countryside access and provide community facilities and geological sites of interest. Reclamation can therefore bring environmental and community benefits, although the restored landscape can take several years to mature. Case studies highlighting successful reclamation practice are provided.
3. In the past, land was typically returned to agriculture or forestry use. In recent years it has been shown that reclamation operations can create or enhance a wide range of habitat types and landscape features including woodland, hedgerows, wet grassland, reed beds, open water and watercourses. Reclamation can thereby contribute to targets in UK and Local Biodiversity Action Plans.
4. Advances in reclamation techniques now enable minerals extraction sites to be reclaimed to a high standard. To achieve this commitment is needed from all parties involved in the planning and implementation of site working and reclamation. Mineral operators, in consultation with other parties, need to treat reclamation as an integral part of the mineral extraction process.
5. This Planning Advice Note (PAN) provides advice on:
- relevant legislation and policy;
- assessing reclamation proposals;
- potential afteruses;
- reclamation processes;
- consultation procedures;
- planning conditions;
- restoration and aftercare schemes;
- planning agreements;
- financial guarantees;
- monitoring and enforcement; and
- development plans.
6. This advice note aims to help planning authorities and operators improve the reclamation of surface mineral workings by building on existing experience and where appropriate disseminating and improving best practice. Annex A summarises the characteristics of the main mineral types worked in Scotland and provides advice on their reclamation. Useful references are provided for further reading.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
7. Restoration and aftercare processes are treated separately under planning legislation. It is important that planning authorities are consistent in their application of the terms, particularly in the scope of works required separately under restoration and aftercare conditions.
8. Restoration is used to mean operations carried out after the extraction of material is complete and involves using subsoil, topsoil or soil-forming material to restore the site. Aftercare is the steps taken after restoration to bring land up to the required standard for the intended afteruse, and can include planting, maintenance of planting, fertilising, cultivating, stone picking, watering or works after restoration to improve drainage.
See Effectiveness of Provisions for the Aftercare of Mineral Workings, DETR (2000). www.planning.odpm.gov.uk/epamw/index.htm
9. Reclamation consists of the operations associated with the extraction of minerals that are intended to return the area to an acceptable environmental condition, and to a condition suitable for the intended afteruse. Reclamation includes both restoration and aftercare and events which take place before and during mineral extraction, for example the correct stripping, storage and reinstatement of soils.
LEGISLATIVE AND POLICY CONTEXT
10. The legislative provisions covering the reclamation of mineral workings have been introduced incrementally since the Town and Country Planning (Minerals) Act 1981. These have now been consolidated within the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 (the 1997 Act) schedules 3, 8, 9 and 10. This confers powers to impose conditions on planning permission for surface mineral workings where the land is to be used for agriculture, forestry or amenity purposes, and details how the conditions may be imposed and assessed. Information on the development of reclamation legislation is provided in Annex B.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) has commissioned research on 'Cost Benefits of Financial Guarantees or Securities in the UK Extraction Industry'.
11. Policy on the reclamation of mineral workings is contained in the National Planning Policy Guidelines on Land for Mineral Working (NPPG 4) and Opencast Coal and Related Minerals (NPPG 16).
12. The European Commission are considering an initiative on 'the management of waste resulting from prospecting, extraction, treatment and storage or minerals' ( www.europa.eu.int ). This may in due course have implications for the reclamation of mineral workings.
ASSESSING RECLAMATION PROPOSALS
13. There is an expectation that mineral operators will address reclamation as part of their planning application for mineral working ( see paragraph 94). Improvement in reclamation techniques and the ability to create enhanced landscapes or community resources has lead to the release of some areas of land which would not otherwise be made available for mineral working. However, if proposals for reclamation are impracticable planning permission for the mineral extraction will not be granted.
14. Planning authorities need to ensure that necessary controls are in place to achieve agreed reclamation proposals. They need to consider:
- who to consult;
- timescales for mineral extraction, restoration and aftercare;
- where possible phasing the development to secure progressive reclamation;
- stripping, storage and reinstatement of soils;
- overburden storage;
- recovery of soil-forming material;
- potential off site impacts;
- measures for monitoring and implementation of any remedial measures;
- financial guarantees; and
- securing the removal of buildings, hardstandings, plant and machinery upon cessation of operations.
15. Mineral operators need to ensure therefore that the planning application includes sufficiently detailed information to allow consultees to form an opinion and the planning authority to make a decision. Pre-application discussions will help determine the level of detail required. ( See Annex D)
16. As a consequence of improvement in reclamation techniques, there are many options for afteruses. Larger mineral extraction sites can incorporate a range of these afteruses. Executive policy encourages afteruses that bring about environmental improvement.
See Schedule 3, Part 1, Paragraph 2 (2) of the 1997 Act.
17. Legislation makes specific restoration and aftercare provisions where the intended afteruse is agriculture, forestry and amenity. A separate planning application is likely to be required for afteruses other than those covered by these categories. The amenity category is broad and includes:
- amenity planting;
- informal recreation;
- access; and
- nature conservation.
It effectively embraces afteruses that require planting and management of vegetation but are not covered by the definitions of agriculture or forestry. It also includes the creation of water areas and watercourses ( see paragraphs 87-89).
See Minerals and the Natural Heritage in Scotland's Midland Valley, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) (2000).
18. The reclamation of mineral sites to a form that accommodates built development is uncommon as the majority of surface mineral workings are in rural locations. However, if this is proposed specialist advice will need to be sought on the engineering implications for the restoration process and a separate application for the afteruse submitted.
19. The afteruse is generally decided through discussion between the operator, having regard to the wishes of any landowner or lessee, the planning authority and other statutory and relevant non-statutory consultees. Pre-application discussions allow planning authorities and consultees the opportunity to consider the proposed afteruses and suggest alternatives before a formal application is submitted. These discussions can often be encouraged as part of the Environment Impact Assessment scoping exercise. They can also help operators to identify opportunities for the creation and enhancement of natural heritage or community facilities. Consultation with the local community can help establish what afteruses provide suitable landscape, educational and recreational benefits.
20. The decision on what afteruses are suitable will be informed by the:
- development plan;
- local biodiversity action plan;
- local access strategy;
- landscape character;
- surrounding land uses;
- water environment;
- type of soils available for restoration; and
- safety considerations.
It is important to consider the long term implementation of the afteruse, and in particular, who is likely to be responsible for future site management and finance.
21. The objective of restoration is to secure the replacement of overburden and soil materials and creation of landforms in ways that ensure land is brought back to the standard required for proposed afteruses. This involves replacement of topsoil, subsoil and soil-forming materials to required depths, minimising damage to soil structure and other characteristics important for vegetation growth. It involves creating gradients that anticipate and facilitate the drainage requirements, and taking account of the local water tables.
MANAGEMENT OF SOIL RESOURCES
22. Management of soil resources at all stages of minerals development is essential as inappropriate handling and storage of soil can cause compaction, smearing and loss of soil structure which can result in the site being unsuitable for the intended afteruse. The following aspects of soil management should be considered:
- soil stripping and reinstatement;
- soil storage;
- soil handling machinery;
- on-site vehicles movements; and
- weather and soil conditions.
23. Planning authorities normally require the separate stripping, storage (where necessary) and reinstatement of soils in correct sequence of defined thickness of topsoil, subsoil or any other soil-forming materials. The thickness of each soil type should be based on the findings of a site survey of soil resources and the requirements of the proposed afteruses. A site survey should provide information on the amount, depth and characteristics of:
- soil-forming material; and
24. Where a site contains considerable variations of soils it is often necessary to require separate stripping (and storage and replacement) of each main soil type. It is important to ensure that topsoil and subsoil are not mixed. Conditions to manage soil resources will however only be effective if operators and planning authorities ensure that they are properly complied with.
SOIL STRIPPING AND REINSTATEMENT
25. Mineral operators and planning authorities should aim to minimise the potential for damage to soils by limiting when and how soils are stripped and reinstated. Stripping soils and placing them directly on land being restored is preferable to soils being stored, although the temporary storage of some soils will usually be required. This corresponds with the aims of a phased restoration scheme and prevents double handling, which may damage soil quality.
26. Planning authorities usually require that soils are handled only when they are in a dry and friable condition and limit the months when these operations can take place (see model condition 6). Care must be taken in using conditions based on soil moisture status. The use of rainfall criteria in planning conditions can be unnecessarily restrictive.
27. Even during periods of weather generally suitable for soil stripping, supervision needs to ensure that operations are suspended after heavy rain. The damage caused to soils by continuing earthmoving during wet conditions may be difficult to reverse during aftercare. Planning authorities and operators should therefore work to timetables that avoid soil stripping and movement during wet periods.
Further advice is available in PAN 50 Annex B: The Control of Dust at Surface Mineral Workings.
28. The movement of soils in dry and windy conditions can cause a dust nuisance to surrounding property or some land uses, such as wetland habitats or sensitive industrial developments. There may also be a potential problem of suspended solids in run-off following soil stripping. Controls to prevent run-off into surface waters need to be put in place where this is identified as a potential risk. It is recommended that Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is consulted on controls to prevent run-off into surface waters.
29. Conditions for progressive reclamation can limit the area taken for mineral working at any one time and relate it to the rate of restoration of earlier phases of the operation. It is however important that conditions permit a sufficient area of land to be stripped of soils in advance of mineral extraction to allow for wet periods when soil stripping operations may be impracticable. It is not advisable to specify actual dates in conditions for phasing of soil stripping operations, unless there are overriding reasons.
30. When soil is not placed directly on to land being restored it is placed in soil storage heaps. Current evidence suggests that while some deterioration to soil quality can occur during storage, some changes can be reversed following restoration, although microbial biomass and activity as well as structural stability may take longer to recover.
31. It is important that operators have an accurate understanding of the volumes of topsoil, subsoil and overburden they require to store within the boundaries of the site and that their proposals are drawn up to ensure that satisfactory storage can be secured. Plans should show details of any storage heaps including their location, height (relative to the ordnance datum), shape and soil type. Planning conditions can:
- define the location, height and shape of storage heaps;
- require that storage heaps are seeding and kept weed free;
- prevent storage heaps from being unduly damaged by vehicles;
- require that heaps are marked with signs showing the soil type and depth (see model condition 8 for above points); and
- ensure control and treatment of surface water run-off from areas of soil storage to prevent pollution of adjacent water bodies.
See PAN 50 Annex A: The Control of Noise at Surface Mineral Workings.
32. Soil storage heaps need to be located away from extraction operations and land liable to flooding. They can be used for landscaping and noise attenuation during the extraction operations. If continuous mounds are used dissimilar soil can be separated by a third material, such as sand, to avoid mixing soil types. It is important to establish vegetation cover on soil storage heaps quickly to prevent soil being blown off.
33. Whilst it is generally accepted that low soil storage heaps are preferable in order to minimise deterioration of soils in the inner parts of heaps, there are no universally applicable maximum height limits. Soil heaps should be restricted to the minimum height practicable, compatible with the amount of soil storage space available on site and the need to protect the quality of the soil. Height limits of 3 metres for topsoil and 4 or 5 metres for subsoils are common. A plan of soil resources can be requested to assist monitoring (see model condition 10).
34. Many older mineral sites and some new sites have limited soil resources available for restoration purposes, and it is impractical to import large volumes of soil. In such circumstance successful restoration can be achieved through the use of soil-forming material. Soil-forming material is mineral or organic matter which has at least some of the properties of a soil and can be used as a medium for vegetation growth. It may be found in the overburden or identified deeper in the geological strata being worked. It can be a substitute for natural soils or be used as a supplement. The type of natural soils being used and the vegetation proposed will inform what soil-forming material is suitable.
See Soil-forming Materials: Their Use in Land Reclamation. Wye College, University of London and Forestry Research (1999).
35. Opportunities to identify soil-forming material occur before and during mineral extraction. A soil survey can provide information on the chemical and physical properties of the materials and suggest the measures needed for the required vegetation growth. It is important that soil-forming material with the most promising characteristics are fully recovered (see model condition 7). Site working should be sufficiently flexible to permit the recovery of suitable materials as they are encountered and good management is required to ensure they are rapidly assessed. Peat-based soil-forming materials can cause unstable and dangerous ground conditions. Soil-forming materials need to be handled with the same care afforded to natural soils. Contingency may be made for storing additional volumes of material. Forestry and amenity afteruses are generally suited to restoration using soil-forming materials. Agricultural and intensive recreational afteruses normally require topsoil.
36. Reclamation using soil-forming materials for all afteruses except possibly nature conservation, will require the use of amendments. Organic waste materials can be used as an amendment, although application rates should be carefully calibrated to prevent the risk of pollution. There is a wide range of organic waste materials which may be suitable for use as an amendment, however these can only be used where the receiving environment will not be adversely affected. SEPA should be consulted about all reclamation and land improvement schemes where the use of organic amendment is proposed. They will be able to advise on waste management licensing controls which apply and the procedures for making an application for a licence or registering an exempt activity.
SOIL HANDLING MACHINERY
37. The choice of soil handling machinery is usually determined by the mineral operator and agreed with the planning authority. Specifying the use of particular types of machinery in conditions is not recommended as this restricts the flexibility to take account of advances in techniques and practice during the course of mineral operations.
38. The two most common types of soil handling machinery used are earthscrapers and dumptrucks - hybrids of these are sometimes used. Bulldozers are often used to spread soil to the required thickness, particularly in conjunction with a dumptruck and excavator.
39. Earthscrapers are used for stripping, moving and spreading soils. The soil is collected by an angled blade at the base of the machine and then spread back on ground being restored or stored for later use. Due to their design earthscrapers have to travel over soil and can therefore cause compaction, particularly when the soils being moved are moist.
40. In the 'dumptruck method', an excavator and dumptruck operate on land where the soil has already been removed. If correctly implemented this method minimises soil compaction, allows movement of soils in wetter conditions than an earthscraper and may reduce the need for remedial work during the aftercare period (see model condition 12).
ON-SITE VEHICLES MOVEMENTS
See PAN 50 Annex C: The Control of Traffic at Surface Mineral Workings.
41. The movement of on-site vehicles needs to be carefully controlled to ensure that soils are not repeatedly trafficked over. Conditions can be used to control the routing of vehicles to avoid unnecessary movement over unstripped and restored soils or soil storage heaps (see model condition 11). Recently reinstated soils are particularly vulnerable to damage.
42. The planning application should show the intended final landforms, gradients and drainage (3 dimensional plans are helpful). This should be informed by an assessment of the landscape prior to extraction. The landforms achievable will often depend on the mineral being extracted ( see Annex A). Final landforms need to be stable, suitable for the intended afteruse and respect the areas landscape character. Where appropriate the natural gradients and rock features of the surrounding landscape should be simulated in the final landforms. The final landforms will however affect the total mineral resource which can be extracted and there may need to be a compromise between maximising the use of the mineral resource and minimising the landscape impact. There may need to be some flexibility to take account of changes necessitated by operational and safety demands.
43. Creation of the final landforms should be integrated with restoration and the operators working methods. Consideration may need to be given to developing a reclamation margin, which is a zone around all or part of the quarry perimeter where the working method is geared mainly towards reclamation rather than mineral production.
44. The creation of steep slopes can cause soil erosion. Conversely, insufficient slope can result in waterlogging and surface ponding. It is therefore essential that the proposed landforms in the restoration scheme are designed to avoid creating flat surfaces or basins where water can collect, unless required for wetland creation. It is common for the final landform to be designed with minimum gradients of 1:50 or even 1:33. For agricultural machinery to operate safely the maximum gradient is 1:5 and for forestry machinery it is 1:3.
See paragraphs 51 and 52 for information on aftercare treatments to improve drainage.
45. The water environment at a site after extraction and reclamation will likely be substantially different from the original condition. Restoration proposals need to take account of both on-site and off-site drainage. An Environmental Impact Assessment will usually include a hydrological and hydrogeological survey that assesses the effects of mineral extraction and the reclamation proposals on the water environment. In the future, consideration will have to be given to the implications of the Water Framework Directive, including how proposals relate to River Basin Management Plans.
46. The success of reclamation often depends of the ability of water to drain through the soil profile and shed from the restored landform. Reasons for inadequate drainage include:
- poor infiltration causing surface ponding;
- compacted and slowly permeable horizons within the restored soil profile;
- slowly permeable substrate below the soil profile;
- a high water table; and
- inadequate surface gradient.
The Executive is in the process of preparing a Ground Water Regulation's code of practice for mineral workings. http://www.scotland.gov.uk/library5/environment/tgwr-00.asp
47. Discharges from on-site drainage can affect downstream watercourses or groundwater. The operator may require a consent to discharge from the site. Sites with potential drainage problems need to be investigated to ensure the reclamation proposals are acceptable. Preparation of pollution prevention plans and early consultation with SEPA is recommended. It may be possible to use Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) to treat surface water run-off. Some materials, such as sandstone, exposed during extraction may have to be sealed during restoration to ensure they do not pollute the water environment.
48. The objective of aftercare is to ensure that land is treated for a number of years after the initial restoration has been carried out, in order to improve the structure and stability of the soil, install site infrastructure such as drainage and establish and manage the vegetation.
See Schedule 3, Part 2, Paragraph (7) of the 1997 Act.
49. The aftercare period starts once the restoration conditions are satisfied. In the case of progressive restoration the aftercare period begins from compliance with the restoration condition in respect of the relevant part of the site. The statutory aftercare period is 5 years from compliance with the related restoration conditions. The aftercare period should be specified in the conditions. There should be an exchange of correspondence that clearly agrees when the aftercare period has begun. This is particularly important on large sites where reclamation may be phased. There is no legislative provision for the suspension of the aftercare period. Aftercare may be extended by mutual consent, through a planning agreement, where this will enable reclamation objectives to be achieved.
CHOICE OF VEGETATION
50. The choice of vegetation will be influenced by the intended afteruse, tolerance of climatic and substrate conditions and the surrounding vegetation and landscape. The choice of vegetation that re-establishes the soil structure is particularly important for agricultural aftercare.
51. Achievement of satisfactory soil drainage is essential if high standards of reclamation are to be achieved. In principle underdrainage should be installed as early as possible - even sites susceptible to settlement may benefit from a sacrificial drainage scheme (see model condition 26). There may be some instances where underdrainage is not needed, for example where permeable topsoils overlay permeable subsoil above the level of the water table. However, underdrainage is usually necessary for all agricultural afteruses and some forms of amenity use. During the aftercare period operators need to check that outfalls from drains are running freely.
52. In phased restoration schemes, it may be more appropriate to wait for a reasonably sized block of land to become available for drainage schemes rather than to design drainage schemes for small pieces of restored land which then require integration. The integration of wetland habitats, openwater and watercourses into the restoration scheme can aid overall site drainage and benefit natural heritage ( see paragraphs 87 to 89).
53. Secondary treatments such as ripping and stone picking may be required to improve the condition of the soil. Ripping (subsoiling) can alleviate some of the drainage problems caused by compaction. The best effect of soil ripping may be achieved by ripping after subsoil spreading and again after topsoil spreading, and in some cases, repeating this during and possibly by agreement beyond the aftercare period. Ripping is most effective on soils that are dry enough to shatter readily. However, some soils may remain too wet over most of the year to be effectively ripped. The presence of large stones in topsoil affects the ease with which the soil can be cultivated and can reduce the amount of available water for vegetation. Following the correct procedures for soil reinstatement will reduce stoniness. Planning authorities can require that stones of a certain size are removed from the surface and buried (see model condition 16).
54. The amounts of fertilisers and lime required will vary according to the specific site conditions and the proposed afteruse. Over-application of fertiliser or fertilising at inappropriate times can result in pollution of surface and ground waters. It is therefore essential that nutrient balancing is considered. Assessment reports ( see paragraph 121 to 123) prepared at the end of restoration and during the aftercare period may include soil and vegetation analysis and an independent assessment of fertiliser requirements. There may be no need to use fertilisers on some sites, particularly nature conservation afteruses. Adequate soil nitrogen levels may instead be attained using grass legume mixes.
55. Weed control is important to prevent dominance of undesirable species. Assessment reports prepared at the end of restoration and during the aftercare period may include assessment of which herbicides, fungicides and pesticides to use and when and how to apply them. Weed control is particularly important for tree planting schemes. Mulches can be used in many situations to control weeds.
IRRIGATION AND WATERING
56. Prolonged dry periods can damage vegetation particularly newly planted trees. The potential need for watering, and methods of applying it, may need to be considered.
CONTROL OF LIVESTOCK AND WILD ANIMALS
57. Excessive grazing can result in poaching which can lead to loss of soil structure, waterlogging of the upper soil horizons, poor grass growth and possible erosion. Whereas low intensity grazing can be used as an aftercare management tool to encourage the establishment of semi-natural grassland, improve soil quality and help control weeds.
58. The aftercare scheme should provide details of livestock management on reclaimed land. In the early years following restoration, possibly extending beyond the aftercare period by agreement, the land may be unable to support as many animals per hectare as undisturbed land. It may be necessary to exclude livestock altogether for limited periods especially during periods of prolonged wet weather (see model condition 23).
59. Controls on rabbits, deer and other wild animals may be required. It is generally preferable to exclude wild animals altogether during the aftercare period. Techniques to manage wild animals include fencing, tree guards and removal.
RECLAMATION TO AGRICULTURE
60. Most mineral sites in Scotland are in agricultural use prior to extraction. In many cases the sites will be reclaimed back to an agricultural afteruse, although increasingly forestry and nature conservation afteruses are being applied either across part or all of the site. Modern reclamation techniques enable mineral extraction to occur without the irreversible loss of agricultural land quality. On some sites agricultural land quality may even be enhanced.
61. Planning authorities need to ensure that operators obtain professional advice in assessing the quality of agricultural land affected by the development. This can be used as the basis for setting the standards to be achieved through reclamation and determining the potential soil resources available on the site. Information on the classification of agricultural land is available from the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute in Aberdeen.
CONSULTATION ON AGRICULTURAL RECLAMATION
62. It is recommended that planning authorities consult Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD) agricultural staff on all reclamation proposals where the intended afteruse is agriculture, although there is no statutory requirement under the 1997 Act. 1 SEERAD agricultural staff will be able to advise whether an agricultural afteruse is appropriate and provide comments on the proposed conditions or aftercare scheme. Further advice on reclamation to agriculture can be obtained from specialist consultants. Planning authorities can require that operators submit reports during the restoration and aftercare period assessing the condition of agricultural land and specifying the steps to improve its quality (see model condition 19). SEERAD agricultural staff can provide comments to planning authorities on these reports where they raise serious concerns.
1 Schedule 3, Part 4, Paragraph 3(a) of the 1997 Act requires that planning authorities consult the Forestry Commission on the steps to be specified in aftercare conditions which specify a use for agriculture. In practice, the Forestry Commission will provide very limited comments on agricultural afteruses, however for the time being this is a statutory requirement.
63. The landforms created through the restoration process are particularly important for agricultural afteruses. Good soil conditions are also vital for successful agricultural reclamation. Agricultural afteruses generally demand a higher quality of soil than forestry or amenity afteruses.
64. The statutory 5 year aftercare period is generally considered appropriate for agricultural afteruses. The principle aim of the aftercare period should be to improve the soil conditions and not agricultural productivity. Deep rooting crops, such as cereals and vegetables, help dry out the subsoil and aid soil structural development, but usually require cultivation and cropping which may increase the amount of trafficking and lead to compaction. Crops that leave the soil bare over the winter months or require harvesting late in the year should be avoided. For most sites sowing out to grass during the aftercare period will be the most appropriate crop.
65. The installation of field drainage is generally required for land being returned to agricultural use. However, the requirement to install it needs to be determined through an assessment of site conditions, as it is not always necessary. It is important that SEPA is consulted on drainage proposals. Limitations on stock rates and periods of grazing may be required. Ripping is often necessary.
RECLAMATION TO FORESTRY
66. Reclamation of mineral sites to forestry can bring many benefits beyond just timber production. Forestry can integrate reclamation proposals with the prevailing landscape character, increase natural heritage interests, provide shelter for crops and allow opportunities for recreation and access. It is the Executives policy to expand the forestry cover in Scotland. Reclamation to forestry is particularly suited to upland locations or old mineral permission sites where soil resources are insufficient or compacted.
CONSULTATION ON FORESTRY RECLAMATION
67. The Forestry Commission is responsible for the protection and expansion of Scotland's forests and woodlands. It has a role as a statutory consultee on mineral applications. The Forestry Commission also conducts research on improving woodland establishment and has considerable experience in reclamation practice.
68. It is recommended that the Forestry Commission is involved as early as possible in consultations to advise on afteruses rather than being consulted once the afteruse has already been decided. This affords them the opportunity at an early stage to suggest where forestry might be appropriate and areas to avoid. Planning Authorities may want to agree with the Forestry Commission on the most effective way it can contribute to the consultation process.
69. There is no statutory requirement for planning authorities to consult the Forestry Commission on restoration conditions when forestry is the proposed afteruse. However, it is recommended that they are consulted, as the standard of restoration is critical to the achievement of satisfactory aftercare. Under the 1997 Act, planning authorities are required to consult the Forestry Commission before imposing an aftercare condition specifying a forestry afteruse and prior to approval of an aftercare scheme specifying a forestry afteruse. The Forestry Commission can provide a view on whether the forestry afteruse should be specified in a condition or in an aftercare scheme.
70. For the purpose of aftercare conditions, forestry is defined in the 1997 Act as "the growing of a utilisable crop of timber". It is recommended that planning authorities also consult the Forestry Commission on significant areas of amenity woodland planted for its recreation, nature conservation and landscape value. Within the Central Scotland Forest area, it is recommended that planning authorities also consult Central Scotland Countryside Trust (CSCT). Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) can be consulted when the afteruse includes amenity woodland planting. SEPA can be consulted on the potential impact of forestry on controlled waters.
71. The 1997 Act states that while aftercare is being carried out, planning authorities may consult the Forestry Commission as to whether the steps specified in an aftercare condition or scheme are being taken. Planting schemes supported by the Woodland Grant Scheme are evaluated by the Forestry Commission after 3 and 5 years. However, on the cessation of each phase of restoration and landscaping, planning authorities can require that operators submit a report which assesses the condition of all planting and specifies any remedial action required in the ensuing planting season (see model condition 19). Subsequent assessment can take place as part of the annual review and at aftercare meetings. It is recommended that assessments examine stock density, growth rates, plant condition and the average height of crop compared with normal expectations for trees grown in the locality. The Forestry Commission can provide comments to planning authorities on these assessment reports. Guidance is available from the Forestry Commission on the environmental assessment of forestry schemes.
72. Adequate drainage, which is important for successful forestry reclamation, is achieved through controlling the slope of the restored landform and drainage channels. Under-drainage is rarely used in forestry reclamation. Poor site drainage can affect the longer term survival and growth of trees. Anaerobic soil conditions, where the soil is free of molecular oxygen, caused by even very short episodes of waterlogging can kill tree roots.
73. The statutory 5 year aftercare period is generally considered appropriate, unless the woodland is established by means other than planting, eg direct seeding or natural colonisation. The timing of the first year's aftercare steps will normally be designed to prepare for tree planting between October and March. These steps may include soil sampling, fertilising, cultivation, drainage and the sowing of nitrogen fixing and slope stabilising crops. A condition requiring the erection and maintenance of fencing to protect young trees may be attached to planning consents.
74. The highest quality plants and the highest standards of plant handling and planting are essential for plant survival on restored sites. It is recommended that trees are planted in accordance with BS 3936 - part 1 specifies requirements for trees and shrubs used in amenity planting and part 4 specifies requirements for trees and shrubs used in timber production. A condition can be attached to ensure that the trees planted are of suitable quality (see model condition 21). The species choice will need to be adjusted to suit the soil and site conditions. For natural heritage benefit it is preferable to plant native species of local provenance . Before trees are planted ripping may be required to overcome soil compaction which can lead to waterlogging and poor root development.
75. The responsibility for management and ownership of sites reclaimed to forestry or amenity woodland may be passed to other organisations such as Forest Enterprise, an executive agency of the Forestry Commission responsible for the management of forests and woodlands, or CSCT.