Residents are being encouraged to help shape Worcestershire's plan for minerals development in the future.
Worcestershire County Council is asking landowners, agents and minerals operators to suggest sites for possible new mineral workings to be considered for inclusion in the next stage of the Minerals Local Plan.
The council also wants to know if there are mineral resources it is not aware of and what kind of essential infrastructure should be safeguarded in the plan to support mineral working.
Details of potential sites, resources and essential infrastructure should be submitted between now and 25 September this year (2015).
Minerals are an essential raw material of daily life. Without them houses, schools, hospitals, roads and railway lines could not be built and they are also needed for fuel, chemicals and industrial applications.
They occur naturally due to variations in geology, meaning they are not evenly distributed.
In Worcestershire we have sand and gravel, some types of rock, building stone, brick clay, silica sand, coal and salt. There is no evidence that we have minerals suitable for fracking or any other deposits of oil or gas, and no licences have been granted under the Government's current system to explore for any of these in the county.
The new Minerals Local Plan will guide how much and what minerals are required, where they should be extracted, how sites should be restored when working has finished, and how minerals development should protect and enhance Worcestershire's people and places.
It will replace the former document which was adopted in 1997 and it will be used to make decisions about planning applications for mineral extraction, processing and restoration in the county.
Details of the information people would need to make submissions to help planners assess the sites put forward is available on the County Council's website at http://www.worcestershire.gov.uk//minerals. All submissions will be in the public domain.
As part of the consultation people can also comment on the background evidence developed to inform the development of the Minerals Local Plan, which covers:
· Analysis of Mineral Resources (updated)
· Sand and Gravel in Worcestershire (new)
· Crushed rock in Worcestershire (new)
· Clay in Worcestershire (updated)
· Building stone in Worcestershire
· Silica sand in Worcestershire (new)
· Salt and brine in Worcestershire
· Coal in Worcestershire (updated)
· Oil and Gas in Worcestershire (new)
· Batching plant in Worcestershire (new)
· Local Aggregates Assessment (updated)
· Supply of industrial and energy minerals
· Biodiversity and mineral sites in Worcestershire: Guidance for the sustainable management of biodiversity action plan habitats at Worcestershire mineral sites
· Contributing towards Worcestershire’s priorities
· Minerals and Climate Change
· The Malvern Hills Acts and quarrying
· Profile documents for the Environmental Character Areas in the Plan.
Cllr Simon Geraghty, Worcestershire County Council's Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economy, Skills and Infrastructure, said: "Worcestershire, like every other area of the country, needs to provide amounts of vital minerals such as sand, gravel, building stone and clay. This is an important opportunity to ensure that future mineral workings are permitted in the right places and that our background evidence is correct."
"Just as importantly this Plan will not only be used to determine planning applications it will also include guidelines to ensure that that once worked, sites are restored to provide social, environmental and economic benefits for the community. We hope that this will mean restored sites will be valued by future generations.
"I would encourage anyone with an interest in expressing their views to take the opportunity over the next 12 weeks. All the information required can be found by logging on to www.worcestershire.gov.uk/minerals or at any of the County Council`s libraries."
The next stage of the process will be a consultation on a draft plan next spring before a final submission to the Secretary of State in 2017.
Previous consultation documents, the council's response to them and the background papers can be downloaded via www.worcestershire.gov.uk/minerals.
For further information or for copies of any of the consultation documents email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 01905 766374 or write to FREEPOST RTHC-XXCK-AJGY Minerals and Waste Planning Policy, Worcestershire County Council, County Hall, Worcester, WR5 2NP.