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MI4  Sand, Gravel and Sandstone Extraction  Policy

The extraction of sand, gravel and sandstone within the Borough will not be permitted where it would have significant adverse effects that could not be satisfactorily alleviated. Proposals within, or likely to affect designated areas of national or international nature conservation importance will be subject to the most rigorous examination in terms of their environmental effects. The Local Planning Authority will give the most special scrutiny to proposals within or likely to affect sites of local biological, nature conservation or geological importance and Areas of Special Landscape Value.

Reasoned justification :

18.16 There are small deposits of sand and gravel within Wirral, but all lie beneath best and most versatile agricultural land, and/ or Areas of Special Landscape Value. Commercial use of sands extracted from the Mersey Estuary is limited by contamination from industrial pollution, and sand within the Dee Estuary and North Wirral foreshore are located in SSSI's, and in the case of North Wirral has been proved to be not commercially usable, even as building sand. There are no known deposits of industrial or special sands within the Borough.

18.17 In view of this, the winning of sand and gravel from land-based deposits will not normally be allowed. However, there are some embankments and stockpiles of such materials present within the Borough as a result of previous excavations. These may present opportunities within the UDP period for exploitation to provide building materials particularly for urban regeneration projects, and to achieve local environmental improvements.

18.18 With regard to sandstone, there are substantial outcrops within Wirral, but all are located in Areas of Special Landscape, ecological or nature conservation value, most notably in the two sandstone ridges comprising Storeton Hill to Bidston Hill in the east of the Borough, and the Heswall/ Caldy/ Thurstaston Hill complex in the west - the two topographical features which give Wirral its unique landscape character. In view of this, and the fact that there are substantial reserves with planning permission in both the North West Region and North Wales justifies the policy stance that exploitation will not normally be permitted.