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Inside Dalradian’s Planning Application

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Inside Dalradian’s Planning Application

Dalradian submitted a detailed planning application to the Department for Infrastructure requesting permission to build an underground mine in November 2017. What’s inside?

The proper oversight and the right balance for development

Northern Ireland’s planning system is designed to actively promote socially, economically and environmentally sustainable development – whether that’s a house extension or a shopping complex. The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) and Northern Ireland’s local councils share responsibility for this system, and they work to integrate and balance a range of complex factors in their decisions. You can learn about the planning system in detail in the Strategic Planning Policy Statement for Northern Ireland (SPPS).

“The overall objective of the planning system is to further sustainable development and improve well-being for the people of the North.”

Mark H. Durkan, former Environment Minister and planning reformer.

Northern Ireland’s Planning Portal is the gateway to this system. It gives everyone access to view the planning applications currently under consideration. It also hosts a wealth of information on the DfI’s approach to development. That approach includes careful attention to the environmental, economic and social priorities of each council area.

The Planning Portal is currently undergoing migration to a new system, but you can still view planning applications through the legacy website until the new system is up and running.

Most planning decisions have been made by councils since reforms to the planning system were implemented in 2015. However, the DfI retains responsibility for regionally significant developments and called in applications. Called in applications are those made to a council that the DfI considers appropriate to determine itself.

Everyone is permitted to have their say on planning applications. The general public, community organisations, interest groups and other businesses and non-profits are not formal consultees, but can comment on applications. You can leave a comment using the Planning Portal, or by writing to the DfI, quoting the relevant planning application reference number.

The path to approval

Dalradian’s path to approval stretches back to 2015 when our project was recognised as a regionally significant development at the outset of the planning process. That initiated a series of discussions between Dalradian and a number of government agencies on how to proceed. It was decided that a thorough public consultation process and in-depth environmental impact assessment were essential. We began talking with the public well in advance of writing our proposal. We also began work with independent environmental and planning consultants, and carried out the required environmental baseline studies to understand the conditions in the local area prior to development.

We wanted to put forward a plan that satisfied regulators and local people. In total, we held seven public events (five unofficial events and two official pre-application public events) that were attended by over 300 people. In contrast, planning regulations call for only one pre-application public event.

We submitted our application in November 2017. The Department, its consultees and the general public have scrutinised it, and we have responded to their queries at each step – sometimes with clarifications and sometimes with adjustments to our plan. We have introduced environmental enhancements including a commitment to become Europe’s first carbon neutral mine. We introduced a new approach to processing that will reduce noise and water use, while eliminating the need for cyanide. 

Nichola Mallon, the Minister for Infrastructure, has confirmed that our application will be the subject of a public inquiry conducted by the Planning Appeals Commission. We welcome the inquiry since it offers another forum for the public to engage with the facts and provide further scrutiny.

The DfI will make its final decision at the inquiry’s conclusion. You can see the road we’ve travelled, and the few steps we have left to go, in the infographic below.

The Planning Process

Accountability at every step

The DfI’s Strategic Planning Division has a duty to ensure that development of any kind adheres to strict standards. Here’s an overview of the steps in the process that help the DfI fulfil that duty and allow stakeholders to give their feedback. 

  • Regional significance acknowledgement

    May 2015
    The DfI accepts that Dalradian’s intentions to build an underground mine represent a project of regional significance.

  • Pre-application discussion process

    December 2015 – July 2017
    Dalradian, the DfI and a number of other government agencies discuss how to proceed through a series of 43 public meetings. 

  • Scoping the environmental impact assessment

    December 2015 – August 2016
    An Environmental Impact Assessment is essential to winning approval for any plan that may impact the environment. Discussions on what this assessment should include began early. The findings of this assessment are compiled in an Environmental Statement.

  • Proposal of application notice

    August 2016
    Dalradian submits its first proposal of application notice, setting out how we intend to engage and seek the views of the community.

  • Pre-application community consultation

    November 2016
    Dalradian speaks to local people about their plans through a series of public consultations. These discussions inform the drafting of the planning application.

  • Application submission

    November 2017
    Dalradian submits its planning application to the DfI. 

  • DfI launches consultation

    February 2018
    The DfI advertises the beginning of its formal consultations in the local press and on the Planning Portal. 

  • DfI consultation with statutory bodies

    February – December 2018
    The DfI is required to consult with certain government bodies including the DfI Roads Service, Northern Ireland Water, the Public Health Agency and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. 

  • DfI issues request for further environmental information

    January 2019
    The DfI issues a detailed list of further information required from the company to address queries and requests made during the consultation period. 

  • Dalradian submits an addendum to the Environmental Statement

    August 2019
    Dalradian responds to the DfI’s request for further environmental information with an addendum to the Environmental Statement, including some changes to the project made in response to feedback received during the consultation.

  • Further environmental information consultation

    Autumn 2019 to Summer 2020
    The DfI advertises receipt of the addendum. It prepares a further request for further environmental information following a review of the consultees’ responses.

  • Dalradian’s response

    Autumn 2020*
    Dalradian responds to the DfI’s request for further environmental information with a second addendum to the Environmental Statement.

  • Public inquiry

    Q4 2020 – Summer 2021*
    The planning application is referred by DfI to the Planning Appeals Commission for a public inquiry. After an exchange of evidence between the participants, the inquiry will take place and the Public Appeals Commission will prepare a report and make a recommendation to the DfI.

  • PAC Report

    Second half of 2021*
    The DfI reviews the Public Appeals Commission’s report on the public inquiry.

  • Decision by DfI

    Second half of 2021*
    The DfI issues its decision on whether to approve Dalradian’s project.

    *Future dates are estimates based on the progress of past applications through the planning system. Dalradian does not control these timings.

What’s in the planning application?

The planning application is not one document but twelve, plus appendices – each one addressing a different aspect of the planning process. Viewing these documents may seem daunting at first – they are written by specialists for other specialists. But a careful read reveals the care and attention that Dalradian, the DfI and other statutory bodies have paid to ensuring that this project benefits the community and respects the environment.

You’ll see how the project began with a comprehensive and thoughtful plan, and then evolved in response to feedback. You can see the points raised by different consultees and the responses that Dalradian has made to each. Taken together, these documents are a testament to the transparency of Northern Ireland’s planning system, and Dalradian’s attention to detail.

A good way into the application is to view the non-technical summaries from the 2017 Planning Application and the 2019 Addendum. You can also contact our community relations team:

  • Call us on +44 (0)28 816 48012

  • Send us a message on Facebook with your queries.

  • Submit a question on our website.

View Dalradian’s planning application

Use application reference: LA10/2017/1249/F

 Follow these steps to access and explore the planning application:

  1. Navigate to Planning NI’s public access page, available at the button above.

  2. Use the search function and enter the reference number supplied above.

  3. You’ll arrive on a page of search results. Select the result that begins “underground valuable minerals mining”.

  4. The Application Summary screen provides an overview of the application. The information is organised into five tabs:

    • Details

    • Comments

    • Documents

    • Related Cases

    • Map

  5. Select the “Documents” tab and click “View associated documents”.

  6. You will find the application documents are divided into ten groups. The most important are: “Additional Documentation”, “Impact Assessments and Statements”, and “Plans, Maps and Drawings”.

  7. Select “Additional Documentation” to view the core of the planning application, or “Impact Assessment and Statements” to view the results of the Environmental Impact Assessment.

Remember that the documents are listed in date order, from oldest to most recent. Some of the most important documents are in the middle of the list.

Dalradian’s Planning Application

All bases covered

Scroll through for a breakdown of Dalradian’s planning application

Guide to the Planning Application
Location: Additional Documents
The best place to start is the Guide to the Planning Application and its addendum. This provides a detailed overview of the planning application documents. 

Form P1 & P1B 
Location: Additional Documents
A P1 form is the heart of any planning application in Northern Ireland. This document provides an overview of Dalradian’s plans. Make sure to read it alongside its updated versions. 

 

Pre-Application Community Consultation Report
Location: Additional Documents
A report that details the consultation activity that took place before and after Dalradian’s Proposal of Application Notice submission (see the Planning Process above) and gives Dalradian’s responses to questions raised at the public consultation events.

Design and Access Statement
Location: Additional Documents
These documents outline the project’s design and how it will be accessed by road. It provides an indication of how the project’s context has influenced the design. 

Environmental Statement
Location: Impact Assessments and Statements
These documents detail the findings of an extensive and comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment. 

Planning Statement
Location: Additional Documents
This document outlines the key planning policy considerations that are relevant to Dalradian’s project.

Statement of Economic Impacts
Location: Additional Documents
An overview of the economic benefits that Dalradian’s project will deliver to the local and regional economy.

Transport Assessment
Location: Additional Documents
A detailed look at the changes the project will make to traffic in the local area and actions Dalradian will take to minimise the impact.

Travel Plan
Location: Additional Documents
An opportunity for Dalradian to outline how it will manage traffic movement near the project and promote sustainable transportation technology.

Shadow Habitat Regulations Assessment
Location: Additional Documents
A guide for the relevant authorities explaining how the project complies with European Designated Nature Conservation Sites.

Mine Waste Management Plan
Location: Additional Documents
A detailed report on how Dalradian will minimise, treat, recover and dispose of waste from the mine.

Tell the DfI you support our plans

Great things can happen with your support. Take a look at our planning application and you’ll discover how Dalradian’s project will deliver economic and social benefits in an environmentally responsible way. Help make our plans a reality. Click on the button below and build a letter of support. Dalradian will not see your personal details, and you can also choose to keep them out of public view.
Support the project >

The plans are fascinating documents for anyone interested in geology or engineering. Register your interest in a tunnel tour. We’re closed to visitors right now, but we’d be happy to show you our site just as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Register for a tunnel tour >

We need dedicated people to make our plans a reality. Register your interest in taking up a well-paid future career with Dalradian. We will offer rewarding work and exciting training opportunities.
Register your interest >

Your support matters

Support our plans to create jobs, strengthen the local community and respect the environment. The Department for Infrastructure will take your views into account. Help make our plans a reality.

Your letter of support will be sent directly to the Department for Infrastructure. Dalradian will not see your letter, nor any of your details.

Great things can happen with your support

Support our plans to create jobs, strengthen the local community and respect the environment. The Department for Infrastructure will take your views into account. Help make our plans a reality.

Customise a letter of support in two simple steps:

Provide your personal details

This will signal your support to the Department for Infrastructure. You can choose to keep these details private.

Tell the Department for Infrastructure why you support the project

Please tick all the elements you like about the proposed project.

Dalradian will not see your letter, nor any of your details. Your letter of support will be sent directly to the Department for Infrastructure