Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland
Mining and quarrying disturbs the land, plants and animals at the site. Closed mines can cause serious pollution from contaminated water in mine shafts, tailings dams, stockpiles, tips and mounds.
You must give notice to your environmental regulator at least six months before you close all or part of your mine, including any seam or shaft, or make major changes to the water management regime. This is required by legislation on abandoning mines. You can be fined if you do not give notice.
The Mining Waste Directive (MWD) brings in new requirements for managing extractive waste at mines and quarries, including closure and after-closure procedures.
What you must do when you close extractive waste sites and waste facilities will be explained in your planning permission.
Before you start closing your waste facility you must:
The Council will inspect your site to check that you have met all the conditions in your planning permission. Your waste facility will only be officially closed when they issues you with a final closure notice.
You will be responsible for maintaining, monitoring, controlling, reporting and carrying out corrective measures at your site even after it is officially closed for as long as the Department Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs requires. For example, you may be required to minimise leachate from the facility and prevent it from contaminating surface water or groundwater.
What you must do when you close extractive waste facilities will be explained in your planning permission.
Before you start closing your waste facility you must meet at least one of the following requirements. You must:
When you ask your planning authority to finally close your waste facility it will inspect your site and assess your reports on closing the mine.
If you have closed your extractive waste facility correctly your planning authority will:
Your waste facility will only be officially closed when your planning authority issues you with a written notice of closure.
You will be responsible for maintaining, monitoring, controlling, reporting and carrying out corrective measures at your site even after it is officially closed for as long as your planning authority requires. For example, you may be required to minimise leachate from the facility and prevent it from contaminating surface water or groundwater.
To find out more about the MWD requirements, see our guidance on extractive waste.
Prepare a plan for restoring the land and speak to your local community about possible uses of the site once you have stopped mining or quarrying - for example, for sporting facilities, wetlands, grasslands, woodlands, heathlands or parklands.
Use topsoil and overburden to restore the land in stages throughout the life of your mine or quarry.
Consider whether your mine is likely to flood when your operations have ended and, if so, what you will do to prevent pollution.
Prepare a plan for managing your site after your mine or quarry has closed, to include monitoring, draining, treating, seeding, planting, fertilising, watering, or otherwise preparing the land and water for its end use.
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency has published a short guide to the duty of care responsibilities including advice and information for waste producers, carriers and those accepting, storing and treating waste.
Any person intending to alter the use or management of areas of uncultivated or semi-natural land must obtain prior approval from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).
Read more on the DAERA website
The NetRegs team at SEPA, in partnership with The Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales and a number of industry bodies have produced 9 new GPPs to replace out of date PPGs. More are coming! Check the available topics
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