EIA Scoping Report: The Conservation Stone Quarry Project (Essay)

free essayThis Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) scoping report describes the environmental aspects of the currently proposed Conservation Stone Quarry project, located between the Lower and Upper Benefield villages. This EIA scoping report is a support document for the EIA Scoping Request that is submitted to the County Council of Northamptonshire in order to establish the nature and scope of the work to be undertaken during the development of the Conservation Stone Quarry project (Hansen and Wood 1).

The Need for an EIA Scoping Report

The County Council of the Northamptonshire was asked to make an official determination whether there would be a need for an EIA scoping report to support the planning of the application site. Upon the submission of screening opinion, the necessity of EIA was considered for the development of the Conservative Stone Quarry. This report was necessary because the project and its activities would fit under the Schedule 2 of the EIA Regulations that addresses the environmental issues in extractive industry and quarries (Baillie 5), and it is applicable for extractions with levels that are above 30,000 tons per year. Since the proposed Conservation Stone Quarry meets the threshold, a request for EIA opinion has been made. Furthermore, the development of the proposed project is considered to have a significant size and period of excavation. In addition, the location of the Conservation Stone Quarry is in a sensitive place, where people, flora, and fauna are vulnerable to the impacts of future activities (Baillie 6). This scoping provides a clarification of the scope of works to be undertaken during the development and the areas that need a full consideration by the EIA.

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Description of the Site

The Conservation Stone Quarry is a project that will be constructed for the purposes of extracting Blisworth Limestone that is used as large walling stone, flagstone, and block stone. The produced stone will be distributed for the use on the restoration and conservation market. This stone will be used in enhancing and maintaining the existing designated conservation regions in Northamptonshire (Coulon et al. 4). The Conservation Stone Quarry project will have major components of operation, namely the extraction of stone mineral, the restoration of extraction void, the construction of related infrastructures, such as perimeter bunds and haul road, and the installation of ancillary elements such as weighbridge, wheel-wash, and stone cropping sheds.

There are approximately 170,000 tons of recoverable Blisworth Limestone within the reserve. The efficiency rate of recovery of the block stone will at 40%, which is approximately 68,000 tons before engaging in the specialist processing of the stone. Because of the processing activities, the recovery rate will increase further to about 60%, thus producing approximately 41,000 tons of the specialist block stone and flagstone, availed onto the market for sale (Baillie 2). Out of the 60% accrued to the wastages in the first phase of processing, about 50% of wastes are suitable for making large walling stones. The material is then cropped on the site into desired sizes and transported to the market for sale. This phase is expected to create approximately 51,000 tons of walling stone throughout the lifespan of the Conservation Stone Quarry project (Baillie 3). Thus, it is clear that the proposed project is a viable one, based on the amount of stone it can produce.

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The development of the quarry is linked to the existing operational processes of Churchfield Stone Ltd., with their stone processing plant located along Harley Way. Thus, the produced block stone and flagstone will be transported to the stone processing plant for specialized processing by using advanced equipment (Howard et al. 455). The Conservation Stone will operate in a series of south/north cuts, which will advance along every cut to the north as additional cuts will move to the west. The commencement of the cuts will occur once top soil and debris have been removed to uncover limestone. The limestone that will not be used to produce the stone will be backfilled on the regions cut. The excavation will be done, using the 360-Backhoe excavator. There will be no material blasting undertaken within the site. The excavation area for the proposed project will be approximately 2.3 ha (Baillie 4). The market for the produced stone will be based on the production, the nature of the house construction sector, and the demand for the specialized stones around the Conservation Areas.

Based on the estimated market demands, the Conservation Stone Quarry is expected to produce approximately 10,000 tons of stone annually before the specialist processing. The transportation of walling stone will require about 150 heavy-load trucks, which means there will be 300b trips per years. Block stone will require 200 heavy-load trucks, which implies 400 two-way trips in a year. Therefore, a total of 350 heavy load vehicles, or 700 two-way heavy-load trips, will be necessary (Baillie 4). This translates to approximately 2-heavyload vehicle trips every day for transportation. The waste stone unsuitable to produce walling stone will be used to restore the quarry by filling the voids (Geneletti et al. 428). Thus, waste stone and excavated materials will be used in filling the voids in order to restore the level of the quarry.

Sensitive Receptor

Spring Wood is the nearest ecological receptor to the application site, located about 700m to the southwestern part of the site. Spring Wood is demarcated as the local wildlife site. Glapthorn Cow Pasture is located at about 2.7km to the east of the application site, and it is a selected Site of Specific Scientific Interest, abbreviated as SSSI (Baillie 2). Burn Coppice is another nearest receptor, located to the north of the application site. Just like similar resources, it is selected as woodland and local wildlife area about 2.5km from the site.

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Furthermore, Weldon Park is one more ecological receptor, located about 3km to the northwestern part of the application site. It is also designated as an ancient woodland and local wildlife. Moreover, Benefield castle is an important receptor, located to the southern part of the application site within the outskirts of the Lower Benefield Village (Howard et al. 453). The application site is located with the outskirts of the Sand and Gravel Mineral Safeguarding boundary. Even though the application site is not within the safeguarding area, the proposed development of the Conservation Stone Quarry will not create land dispute and conflict to the quarrying activity to be undertaken.

Insignificant Effects

Insignificant effects will result from such activities as visual intrusion, the stability of the quarry-slope, and the backfilling of the voids, created during excavation. Visual intrusion has limited effects on people, flora, and fauna as well as structures and other resources. There is a limited flow of contaminants that might only come from the machinery, equipment, and vehicles (Geneletti et al. 430). Although the effects of these activities are insignificant, they should be controlled to avoid cumulative effects that might be very dangerous.

Potentially Significant Effects

The Conservation Stone Quarry project and activities that will be performed during the extraction of stone will constitute potentially significant effects to the neighborhood and natural environment. Thus, the noise from extracting and processing machines will create a significant pollution to the environment. Traffic made by heavy-load trucks, transporting stones, will increase emission of carbon gas from the engine fuels. Voids, created during the excavation, will lead to flood risks, especially to the Lower Benefield village. Dust disposition has a potentially significant effect to the listed receptors during dry seasons of the year (Howard et al. 457). These factors need a detailed consideration because they can cause adverse effects when they are not properly controlled.

Overview of the Proposed Conservation Stone Quarry

The application site is located in the Valley between the Lower and Upper Benefield villages in the East Northamptonshire District near Oundle. The project site is approximately 9.9ha in size. The constructed haul road that serves the project site is approximately 0.9ha of the entire site area. It runs across the area of excavation (Howard et al. 449). The utilization of the site is currently classified as a grade 3 arable land because it is situated in a mosaic of arable fields. The site borders a wooden copse and established hedgerows to the eastern boundary. The copse is located on a historic quarry that could produce the same stones as the ones in the proposed Conservation Stone Quarry (Capolongo et al. 263). In terms of the land’s topography, it slopes downwards from the northern to the southern boundary. At the southern end, there is a stream that drains its water to the east.

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A residential property is located to the northern part of the project site. The Benefield Cricket Club and the Benefield Wheatsheaf Hotel are located in the village within the selected Conservation Area. A public footpath is found within the proximity of the eastern boundary of the designated site. This path, which is 200m away from the application site, connects the Upper and Lower Benefield villages.

Outline of Planning Policy

The development of the Conservation Stone Quarry will be based of the national, regional, and local planning policies, deemed relevant for the project. It will comply with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) that was implemented in March 2012 (Yong 86). The policy provides requirements for the development of projects, such as various documentations and the inclusion of the Planning policy Statements as well as Mineral Planning Statements, that are addressed in its publication. The NPPF guide under section 13 establishes the strategic policy to be considered when formulation the planning policy for extraction.

The policy provides a broader guideline for various factors to be considered such as natural and historic environment, social, economic, and health aspect of humans as well as flora and fauna in their natural habitat. According to subsection 6, paragraph 143 of the NPPF, assessment before the permission of the operations is necessary to ensure that performed activities do not have adverse effects on the natural and historical aspects of the environment and human life (Yong 87; Howard et al. 456). The assessment will consider operational aspects such as noise, visual intrusion, traffic, dust, and flood risks among others such as environment pollutants and contaminants from the site. The assessment must also consider the various effects of individual application sites as well as the activities within the locality.

In terms of regional planning policy, the signing of the Localism Act (November 2011) into the law has officially enforced parts of the planning policy legislation. This act is a part of the drive by the regional government to simplify the planning system. The Localism Act provides for elimination of regional strategies. The established provisions have not been enacted as await the strategic assess of the environment so that they could be approved and passed by the parliament. The final implementation of the Localism Act will empower the planning policy to be addressed at the local levels.

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In terms of the local planning policy, the Conservation Stone Quarry project will rely on the core strategy adopted in 2010 and called Northamptonshire Minerals and Waste Development Framework. Other relevant planning policies include the 2011 Development and Implementation Principles as well as the Supplementary Planning Document, abbreviated as SPD. The SPD provides further guidance regarding the management of the wastes. The SPD policies will be addressed to provide additional methods and approaches for planning the development of the Conservation Stone Quarry Project (Yong 91). When implemented, these policies will also increase the legal authority at the local level regarding the planning and development of the project.

Scope of Environmental Impact Assessment

Various environmental parameters are assessed, based on the relevant EIA Regulations. These parameters are scoped and included as a part of the report one the basis of their impacts on the Conservative Stone Quarry and the immediate environment. They include dust deposition, air quality, flood risk, fauna, flora, soil, water, noise, air, climatic factors, material assets, architectural and archeological landscape, and inter-relationship among these factors (Zawadzka et al. 75). The EIA scoping report assesses each of these environmental parameters independently, based on the way they have been influenced by the proposed Conservation Stone Quarry. These parameters can be direct and indirect, long-term and short-term, accumulative, permanent or temporary, positive or negative during and after the development.

An Overview to Determine Significant Effects of Mining Activities

The overview will analyze the significant effects, created by the activities that are performed during the excavation process. The most important effects to be assessed in this EIA report are dust deposition, flood risks, heritage, and quality of air. The aspects are the direct result of the activities in the Conservation Stone Quarry and they could lead to adverse environmental effects (Zawadzka et al. 76). Therefore, an appropriate Environmental Impact Assessment is necessary as detailed in the following section.

Dust Deposition

Specifically, the deposition rate of the dust ranges between 10 and 50mg/m2/day in rural contexts. The ranges in suburban areas are between 30 and 80 mg/m2/day, and between 80 and 160 mg/m2/day in town centers and industrialized areas (Wangel et al. 208). In this context, the setting of the application site is a rural context. Nevertheless, agricultural activities in the area emit a significant amount of dust. Therefore, the average deposition of the dust is 30 mg/m2/day (Baillie 13). This disposition implies that dust disposition must be controlled to avoid its immediate and long-term effects to sensitive receptors.

Flood Risk

The proposed Conservation Stone Quarry is considered against the flood risk parameters for the assessment. The development is designed with flood mitigation aspects that consider the flood zone along the adjacent brook base on the route, taken by the haul road. As a result, the applicant site is situated in the flood zone 1 (Baillie 14). Therefore, the EIA assessment is undertaken, based on the technical Guidelines stipulated in the NPPF in order to reduce their effects on the artificial and natural environment.

Heritage

The foundational appraisal of heritage resources is undertaken in order to determine the potential archeological and heritage resources within the site (Hansen and Wood 8). They include the examination of archeological evidence within the Northamptonshire Historic Environment Record, NHER (Baillie 15). When undertaking the Environmental Impact Assessment, heritage resources should be evaluated in terms of their vulnerability in the project’s execution. These resources have cultural and historical linkage to the people and their past. In addition, they attract tourists and other socioeconomic activities.

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Air Quality Assessment

One of the most important assessments in this scoping is the quality of air within Edinburg city as it needs to be maintained during and after the implementation and conclusion of the Local Development Plan. In this context, the aspects of air quality such as odors and bio-aerosols are considered. These aspects should be eliminated as a way of improving the quality of life for flora and fauna as well as humans (Zawadzka et al. 78). In this context, the assessment is based on the Air Quality Regulations, AQR as described in the national Air Quality Strategy, NAQS. This policy provides objective guidelines to be achieved for different pollutants (Baillie 12). Under the AQR policy, the County Council government is needed to review the current and projected concentrations of airborne germs for these pollutants.

Relevant Consultees

A consultee is a person or institution that is formally consulted on a certain matter. The County Council Government of Northamptonshire is the first consultee on several matters regarding maps, legislation, and extraction regulations. GPD Planning Ltd will be consulted regarding the environmental issues that might affect the development of Conservation Stone Quarry. Acoustic Noise and Vibration will be consultants in the matters of noise effects. Finally, Team O’Hare Associates (TOHA) will be consulted for soil and landscape information.