Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland
Your mine or quarry could cause serious damage to the environment and human health if you do not manage your extractive waste properly.
The Mining Waste Directive (MWD) introduced new requirements for managing extractive waste at mines and quarries.
Regulations implementing the MWD in Northern Ireland and Scotland came into force on 1 April 2010. The MWD has been brought into force through the planning system.
Extractive waste is solid or liquid waste that comes directly from onshore prospecting, extracting, treating and storing minerals and the working of quarries, including:
Not all material you produce during mineral extraction is waste.
If you do have extractive waste, your obligations will depend on whether your extractive waste is:
An extractive waste site (Northern Ireland) or extractive waste area (Scotland) is any area where you accumulate or deposit extractive waste, including any dam, heap or pond for:
It does not include any area which is a waste facility. In Northern Ireland, it does not include excavation voids into which waste is replaced, after extraction of the mineral, for rehabilitation and construction purposes.
If you start or continue to operate an extractive waste site (Northern Ireland) or extractive waste area (Scotland) you must have a valid planning permission from your planning authority.
If you produce extractive waste your planning permission will require you to have a waste management plan (WMP). For information on what your WMP must cover, see our guidance on waste management plans.
In Northern Ireland, if an exemption applies to your mine or quarry or your mine or quarry does not produce extractive waste you do not need a WMP but will need to submit a waste management statement to confirm this. For example, an inert waste site may be exempt from the requirement to produce a WMP.
In Scotland, if your extractive waste area was in operation on 1 April 2010 you must have produced a WMP by 1 May 2012 to continue your operations.
Your planning permission will have conditions which, amongst other things, require you to:
Your extractive waste must not:
You must use best available techniques for managing your extractive waste to prevent or reduce damage to your local environment or human health.
Your mine or quarry has a waste facility if you deposit or accumulate extractive waste at your site:
Waste facilities at mines or quarries include spoil heaps, tailings, ponds and dams. They do not include voids that have been filled with extractive waste after extraction. For further information on voids, see our guidance on extraction voids.
If you start or continue to operate a waste facility you must have a valid planning permission from your planning authority. Your planning permission will include conditions for managing extractive waste and will require you to have a WMP. For information on what your WMP must cover, see our guidance on waste management plans.
You must also comply with special requirements to prevent major accidents at your site if you have a Category A (high risk) facility. See our guidance on preventing major accidents at Category A facilities.
In Northern Ireland, if you had a valid planning permission for your waste facility on or before 1 April 2010 it is now deemed to include permission for that facility where you have submitted a WMP and that plan has been approved by your planning authority. If you have a Category A facility you must also comply with special requirements to prevent major accidents at your site and arrange for a financial guarantee to be in place for your waste facility by 1 May 2014.
In Scotland, if your mining waste facility was in operation on 1 April 2010 you must have obtained planning permission to continue your operations beyond 1 May 2012. You must also arrange for a financial guarantee to be in place for your waste facility by 1 May 2014. You can use an industry sponsored mutual guarantee fund to provide your financial guarantee.
You must comply with any conditions in your planning permission about extractive waste or the location, size and shape of spoil heaps and tailings ponds.
Contact your planning authority for further information.
Your mining waste facility is classified as Category A (high risk) facility if:
For further information, see the European Community decision on the definition of Category A waste facilities.
You must have valid planning permission and comply with additional requirements if you have a Category A or hazardous waste facility. For example, if you have a Category < A facility you must comply with requirements to prevent major accidents at your site. See our guidance on preventing major accidents at Category A facilities.
Position stockpiles on surfaces that have low permeability.
Collect run-off from your extractive waste and treat it prior to discharge. For further information, see our guidance on managing solids .
Compact your extractive waste and check it is physically stable if you put it in an extraction void. For further information, see our guidance on extraction voids.
Design your mining waste facility to prevent pollution and erosion. For example:
Comply with the tipping rules to make sure your mining waste facility is stable. For further information on the tipping rules, contact the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland.
European Community: EC Decision 2009/359/EC Completing the definition of inert waste (Adobe PDF - 698KB)
European Community: EC Decision 2009/360/EC Completing the technical requirements for waste characterisation (Adobe PDF - 709KB)
EU: BREF document on best available techniques for management of tailings and waste rock in mining activities
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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