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Howbrook Open Cast Coal Mine Proposal

Environmental Impact Assessment

LSC 301 Registration Number: 090164154 A study by VH Consultants on behalf of Cobex Ltd. Howbrook Open Cast Coal Mine Proposal


Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Contents

Contents Preface i. Introduction…….…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………3 ii. Purpose of Environmental Impact Assessment….……………………………………………………………………………….3 iii. Statutory Framework….………………………………………………………………………………………………………………...…..4 . Project Description 1. Cobex Project Background Information………………………………………………………………………………………………5 1.1 Aim of the Report……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….5 1.2 The Designated Site……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….…………...5 1.3 Opencast Coalmine Proposal………………………………………………………………………………………………………………6 Policy Box 1.1 National Policy effecting Opencast Coalmining and Mineral Extraction…………………………………6 Policy Box 1.2 National Mineral Planning Guidance and Mineral Planning Statements………………………………..6 Policy Box 1.3 Regional Policies regarding Opencast Coalmining…………………………………………………………………7 Baseline Landscape Conditions 2. Landscape Character Definition……………………………………………………………………………………………………….….8 2.1 National Landscape Character …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….8 Policy Box 2.1 National Planning Policy effecting Opencast Coalmining within Greenbelts…………………………..8 2.2 Regional Character Area: West Barnsley Settled Wooded Farmland……………………………………………………9 Policy Box 2.2 Regional Policy regarding Development in areas of Significant Borough Landscape Value…..10 2.3 Individual National Character Area……………………………………………………………………………………………………10 2.3.1 37. South Yorkshire Southern Pennine Fringe……………………………………………………………………………………10 2.3.2 38. Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and Yorkshire Coalfield…………………………………………………………………11 Policy Box 2.3 Site Specific Regional Policy………………………………………………………………………………………………….11 2.3.3 Local Character Area: Howbrook……………………………………………………………………………………………………….12 2.4 Potential for Enhancing Landscape…………………………………………………………………………………………………….13 Policy Box 2.4 National Mineral Planning Guidance for Reclamation of an Opencast Coalmine………………….13 Baseline Visual Conditions 3. Visual Indicators…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………14 3.1 Zone of Visual Influence (ZVI)………………………………………………………………………………………………………….…14 3.2 Visual Envelope (VE)………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….14 3.3 Results of ZVI and VE…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………14 Map 3.1 ZVI and VE………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….15 3.4 Visual Receptors………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..16 3.4.1 Viewpoint 1: Stancliffe House Farm…………………………………………………………………………………………………..16 3.4.2 Viewpoint 2: Carr House Farm……………………………………………………………………………………………………………17 3.4.3 Viewpoint 3: Storrs Dyke …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..18 3.4.4 Viewpoint 4: Hollin Berry Farm………………………………………………………………………………………………………….19 3.4.5 Viewpoint 5: Westwood Country Park……………………………………………………………………………………………….20 3.4.6 Viewpoint 6: High Green Housing Estate…………………………………………………………………………………………..21 Landscape Impact Assessment 4. Landscape Assessment………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………22 4.1 Potential Landscape Impact……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….22 4.2 Predicted Landscape Impact………………………………………………………………………………………………………………22 Table 4.1 Timescale and Magnitude of Landscape Impacts…………………………………………………………………24

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Preface Visual Impact Assessment 5. Visual Assessment…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….25 5.1 Potential Visual Impact……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..25 5.2 Predicted Visual Impact…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….25 5.2.1 Viewpoint 1: Stancliffe House Farm…………………………………………………………………………………………………..26 5.2.2 Viewpoint 2: Carr House Farm…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..26 5.2.3 Viewpoint 3: Storrs Dyke …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..26 5.2.4 Viewpoint 4: Hollin Berry Farm………………………………………………………………………………………………………….26 5.2.5 Viewpoint 5: Westwood Country Park……………………………………………………………………………………………….27 5.2.6 Viewpoint 6: High Green Housing Estate…………………………………………………………………………………..……….27 Table 5.1 Timescale and Magnitude of Landscape Impacts…………………………………………………………………27 5.3 Evaluation of Landscape and Visual Assessment………………………………………………………….…………………….27 5.4 Sections……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..28 Mitigation 6. Mitigation……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….…29 6.1 Avoidance………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….29 6.2 Reduction………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….29 6.3 Compensation and Enhancement………………………………………………………………………………………………………29 Restoration 7. Restoration Policies……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………30 Policy Box 7.1 Restoration Policies………………………………………………………………………………………………………………30 7.2 Restoration………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..30 7.3 Final Statement of Unavoidable Impacts……………………………………………………………………………………………31 Map 7.1 Restoration Concept Plan……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….....31 Bibliography……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………32

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Preface

Preface Overview of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) i.

Introduction

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a ‘systematic procedure’ (Carys Swanwick, 2011). It is part of a rational decision making process that takes into consideration the possible positive or negative effects a development may have on the surrounding environment, and social and economic aspects. These estimated impacts are taken into account when deciding whether to grant ‘development consent’ (Communities, Planning and building) and ensures that both the public and relevant planning authorities understand the steps required to help mitigate these impacts. For that reason it is a vital environmental management tool in the decision making process and in the promotion of sustainable development as it can lead to the approval or dismissal of a development proposal. ii.

Purpose of Environmental Impact Assessment

The International Association defined the process of an EIA for Impact Assessment (IAIA) as: "The process of identifying, predicting, evaluating and mitigating the biophysical, social, and other relevant effects of development proposals prior to major decisions being taken and commitments made." Therefore, forecasting the likely impacts a development may have at the earliest possible stage allows for strategies to be implemented to reduce and or prevent ‘adverse impacts’ (Carys Swanwick, 2011) before a development begins, causing the least amount of damage as possible by instigating effective mitigation measures. Within a full EIA the following are all taken into account in the decision making process as to whether a development is given consent: flora and fauna, soil and geology, water quality, noise, social well-being and culture, economy material assets and land use. Landscape impact assessment takes into account the ‘character and quality of an area whilst the visual effects relate to the appearance of these changes and the resulting effect on the visual amenity’, (GLVIA, 2001). These two issues whilst being independent of each other should be taken into consideration together as they are related. As part of the EIA procedure, the developer is required to compile an Environmental Statement (ES); this includes the likely effects the project will have on the environment, which is submitted in conjunction with the application for consent and is open to public comment. ‘If properly carried out, it benefits all those involved in the planning process’, (Communities, Planning and Building). This report for a proposed open cast coalmine in Howbrook, South Yorkshire will focus on the potential landscape and visual impacts as this is what Cobex Ltd. have requested and will be submitted as part of a full EIA from the developers Cobex Ltd.

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Preface iii.

Statutory Framework

EIA’s were first used in 1960s, the technical evaluation allowed an objective decision to be made. It became a statutory part of the planning process and a legal requirement from European Law, in 1985 through the original EC Directive 85/337/EEC. The directive was superseded by the new European Union Council Directive; 97/11/EC in 1997. The directive was implemented in England and Wales by the Town and Country Planning (England and Wales) (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations, in 1999. It made assessment mandatory for `Schedule 1 projects' and discretionary for `Schedule 2 projects' when deemed it would ‘give rise to significant environmental effects’ (Communities, Planning and Building). Hence the more environmentally sensitive the location, the more likely it is that the effects of development will be significant and that EIA will be required. The guidelines ‘encourage high standards’ (GLVA, 2001) for scope of landscape and visual impact assessments. It also made alterations to the list of mandatory projects adding thirteen to schedule 1; this included any open cast mining over 25 hectares. This has therefore informed that a full EIA is legally required for the proposal from Cobex Ltd. as their application is for an open cast coal mine covering 47 hectares in total.

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Project Description

Project Description 1. Cobex Project Background Information 1.1

Aim of the Report

This report sets out to independently assess the potential landscape and visual impact of the proposed opencast mine by Cobex Ltd in Howbrook, and how it might affect surrounding areas through detailed research and analysis. It will form part of a full EIA report submitted by Cobex Ltd, it is important to note that Cobex has previously submitted an application that was declined. It is for this reason that within this report there will also be outline proposals for after use, restoration and landscape treatment assuming that once extraction is completed the land will be backfilled with overburden to approximately the original contours.

1.2

The Designated Site

The proposed area for the opencast coalmine is near the village of Howbrook, approximately 8.6miles north of Sheffield and south of Barnsley respectively. It falls within the Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley and the Peak District National Park lies to the east. The roads that surround the site in a triangle are: A616 main road to the north, and minor roads of Westwood New Road to the east, also cuts through the site and A629 to the west. Roads servicing the proposed area are: Hollinberry Lane, Carr Head Road, Bromley Carr Road and Storrs Lane.

Figure 1. (Above) Map of South Yorkshire, showing location of Howbrook (Sheffield City Council, 2012)

The characteristics of the area are in line with those seen in most South Yorkshire and reflects its proximity to the Peak National Park, which consists predominantly of rural agricultural undulating land, this being framed by West Wood woodland at the northeast border. Within the immediate location of Howbrook lies a small village to the southwest and High Green Housing Estate to the southeast.

Figure 2. (Above) Map of Howbrook and immediate roads (Google Maps, 2012)

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Project Description 1.3

Opencast Coalmine Proposal

The private opencast coal operator Cobex Ltd is a mining company based in Wakefield. They have been trading for twelve years, and worked on a number of successful opencast sites in Leeds and Wakefield areas and have contracts delivering quality coal to both industrial and domestic fuel market. The area for consideration in the proposal covers near enough 47 hectares of agricultural land, it is intended that 18 hectares will be mined for coal with the remaining left untouched or used as storage for topsoil, overburden and access routes. Cobex Ltd. have applied for planning permission to extract approximately 160,000 tonnes of quality coal, and up to 15,000 tonnes of associated clays by opencast methods from a site approximately 300 metres northeast of the village of Howbrook. This process will be phased, but estimations are that it will take 1 year and 8 months to complete and full details can be found in the full Cobex planning document. Policy Box 1.1: National Policy effecting Opencast Mining and Mineral Extraction The role of policies within the planning framework is to regulate development, these occur at both national and regional scales. Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) occur at national level. PPG2: States that within a Green Belt m ineral extraction need not be inappropriate development as

it is temporary activity, providing that high environmental standards are maintained and that the site is well restored. It is for Mineral and local planning authorities to include appropriate policies in their development plans.

Policy Box 1.2: National Minerals Planning Guidance (MPG) & Minerals Policy Statements (MPS) The Government's national policies on minerals and planning issues are covered in MPGs and their

replacements MPSs; they provide advice and guidance to local authorities and the mineral industry as to the operation of the planning system with regard to minerals. MPG3: (Coal Mining and Colliery Spoil Disposal) ensures that the extraction of coal takes place at the best balance of community, social, environmental and economic interests, consistent with the principles of sustainable development. Opencast mining is usually lower in cost than deep mining and due to material being moved, original landforms can be recreated but may take time to restore the area. MPG3 (C3): recognises that visual disturbance can arise with many cases being in areas that are rural in character. The need to minimise visual disturbance should be taken into account when planning the site operation, storage areas and provision for screening. MPG7 (C11): (Reclamation of Mineral Workings) identifies that during the life of the site there is a need for the storage of topsoil, subsoil and large volumes of overburden. The volumes involved can be minimised by the progressive phased action of work and reclamation of the site. MPG7 (C15): reclamation schemes should aim to install a drainage system as soon as possible following soil placement, this increases the opportunities for cultivating the soil and establishing vegetation as soon as possible.

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Project Description Policy Box 1.3 Regional Policies regarding opencast coalmining Regional policies for Barnsley regarding the extraction of coal by opencast mining taken from Unitary Development Plans for the region. Policy GS4: Commercial and industrial firms will be encouraged to improve the appearance of their operational land, with attention to improving non-operational land, including early release for reclamation. Policy M4: applications to mine coal by opencast methods will be considered in the light of national and regional guidance as well as potential environmental and other benefits, including the impact upon economic regeneration. Proposals would be refused where disruption to the environment would be over an unacceptable long period. Policy M9G: planning permission for mineral workings will not be granted where it is proposed to remove significant trees or hedges or woodland of amenity that offers valuable screening Policy M13: where a site approved for mineral working contains more than one economic mineral, the council will encourage the extraction and market of all minerals to prevent loss of valuable resources. (Applicable to opencast coal mines as clay is often found)

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Baseline Landscape Conditions

Baseline Landscape Conditions 2. Landscape Character Definition Natural England defines Landscape Character as: "A distinct, recognisable and consistent pattern of elements, be it natural (soil, landform) and/or human (for example settlement and development) in the landscape that makes one landscape different from another, rather than better or worse". These elements are what makes an area unique and adds to the local vernacular. Understanding these various character areas allows for informed decisions to be made as to the management ensures that future developments are sensitive to the location. This helps to plan for sustainable landscapes that contribute the ‘environmental, social and economic objectives’, (Natural England, Landscape Character)

2.1

National Landscape Character “The tool is used to help us articulate the character of the landscape. It helps identify the features that give a locality its ‘sense of place’ and what makes it different from neighbouring areas”, (Landscape Character Assessment: Guidance for England and Scotland, The Countryside Agency and Scottish Natural heritage, 2002).

This tool is endorsed by the Government in PPSs and in 2005 Natural England produced the 'Character of England Landscape, Wildlife and Cultural Features Map'. The map is subdivided into 159 NCAs (National Character Areas) with a character description for each provided. This highlights influences determining the character of the landscape, this includes; land cover, buildings and settlements. Policy Box 2.1: National Policy effecting Opencast Mining within Green Belts PPG2: States that within a Green Belt mineral extraction need not be

inappropriate development as it is temporary activity, providing that high environmental standards are maintained and that the site is well restored. It is for Mineral and local planning authorities to include appropriate policies in their development plans

Figure 3. (Above) Character of England Landscape, Wildlife and Cultural Features Map (Natural England)

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Baseline Landscape Conditions 2.2

Regional Character Area; West Barnsley Settled Wooded Farmland

Figure 5 was produced by Barnsley Borough Council and shows that Howbrook lies within the boundaries of E1: Barnsley settled wooded farmland. Key characteristics:  areas of substantial agricultural land,  gently rolling landform  villages/ hamlets with stone farmsteads  with urban encroachment visible to the east The site is within a defined greenbelt; the South Yorkshire Community Forest as well as being a Borough Area of Landscape Value. Figure 4. (Above) Yorkshire and the Humber National Character Area map (Natural England)

Figure 5. (Above) Regional Character of Barnsley Borough, (MOLE 2)

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Baseline Landscape Conditions Policy Box 2.2: Regional Policies regarding development in areas of significant Borough Landscape Value Regional policy effecting areas of Borough that have significant landscape value as well as being protected by greenbelt policies Policy N4: ‘Development plans should increase tree cover in ways, which reinforce and support regional spatial strategy whilst facilitating the implementation of the South Yorkshire Forest Plan in the development plans for Barnsley. It should form part of comprehensive schemes for regeneration of previously used/derelict land.’ (South Yorkshire Forest Plan, 2002) Policy GS9: Development should not result in significant harm to the visual amenity of the green belt by its design siting or materials used. Policy GS13: it is important for areas of borough landscape value should be conserved and enhanced 2.3

Individual National Character Areas

The NCAs are not precise and it is important to remember that the boundaries should be considered as ‘broad zones of transition’ (Natural England). This is especially relevant when Howbrook, the proposed site, borders on two NCAs, both Area 37; The Yorkshire Southern Pennine Fringe and Area 38; Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Yorkshire Coalfield. 2.3.1

37 South Yorkshire Southern Penning Fringe

Key characteristics:  Eastern slopes of the Pennines, dissected by numerous steep-sided valleys, dropping from upland in the west down to the east.  Local sandstone and 'gritstone' is the predominant building material in the matrix of large and small towns.  Valleys confine urban development creating dramatic interplay of views between settlements and the surrounding hillsides.  Predominantly pastoral farming with strong linear patterns of walled enclosures on plateaux.  Broadleaved woodlands on steep valley sides form backdrops to industrialised areas.  Impression of a well wooded landscape even though tree cover is relatively sparse overall. Figure 6. (Above) South Yorkshire Pennine Fringe, (Natural England)

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Baseline Landscape Conditions 2.3.2

38 Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Yorkshire Coalfield

Key characteristics:  Strong cultural identity arising from history of coal mining and other heavy industry  Widespread evidence of industrial activity including mine buildings, former spoil tips, and iron and steel plants.  Complex mix of built-up areas, industrial land, dereliction and farmed open country.  Urban fringe pressures create fragmented landscapes.  Substantial areas of intact agricultural land in both arable and pastoral use.  Ever present urban influences from major cities, smaller industrial towns and mining villages.  Widespread influence of transport routes, including canal, road (M1, M62) and rail.  Rolling landforms with hills, escarpments and broad valleys.  Local variation in landscape character reflecting variations in underlying geology.

Figure 7. (Above) Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Yorkshire Coalfield (Natural England)

Policy Box 2.3: Site Specific Regional Policies Policy GS12: development of agricultural land will be undesirable where it is highly versatile as it is a national resource for the future and weight will be given to protect it. Policy GS22: the council will seek the retention and management of existing hedgerows, woodlands and trees both individually and in groups Policy GS24: developers will be encouraged to make a positive contribution to the forest and any development must accord with the UDP. Policy GS28: the council will preserve, protect and enhance existing public rights of way and will require new development retains an attractive route for existing rights of way. Policy ES1: the council will refuse development which is likely to result in harm to the environment through excessive levels of pollution (as opencast coalmines do produce methane gas). Where development is permitted the council will seek to ensure that resulting pollution is avoided or minimised.

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Baseline Landscape Conditions

2.3.3

Local Character Area: Howbrook

Farm buildings

Deciduous woodland

Key Arable farming Improved Grassland Unimproved Grassland Public footpath

As established by the individual character areas, the area of Howbrook is surrounded by undulating arable land with some permanent pasture fields, along with Westwood woodland situated to the north of the proposed coalmine site. There are a number of individual mature trees within the site and these need to be taken into consideration within Policy GS22.

Residential buildings Figure 8. (Above) Local Character area, Howbrook

Intensive farming has resulted in poor diversity of species in the area and many defunct hedgerows therefore leaving little in relation to conservation value. This is with the exception of Field F5 (unimproved grassland) and How Brook river which has a diverse range of species thanks to mature vegetation offering varying habitats. The undulating topography of the site is formed from the underlying soil types that consist predominantly of sandstone, clay and coal. There are three rivers that transect the site; Storrs Dike which runs parallel alongside the public footpath as well as How Brook and an unnamed tributary, that have all played a part in shaping the land over time. It is proposed to suspend the use of the footpath from Carr House Farm to a mid-point along the eastern boundary but the path running adjacent to Storrs Dike that joins this will not be effect to help minimise disturbance. The buildings that are found in the locality are predominantly individual residential houses or farm buildings. The farm buildings are a mix of disused or newly renovated homes and are built from mostly sandstone that is prevalent in the area; this includes Carr House Farm (located at the top circle) and Carr Head farm that is closer to the residential buildings. The material palette fits the local rural vernacular of the village. However the largest housing estate to the east of the proposed site, High Green is modern in its design and does not use the same material palette, this in high contrast to its surroundings. Although there are no individual elements with great conservation or ecological value, the matrix as a collective give the landscape a character and maturity that has seen its status rise to an area of Borough Landscape Value. As a result of this it is vital to understand the full implications that an opencast coalmine may have on the character of the site and the surrounding area. The implications should take into account not only that of the environment and wildlife habitats but the visual impacts on residents that reside in the surroundings that have views to the site.

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Baseline Landscape Conditions 2.4

Potential for Enhancing the Landscape

The potential of enhancement and restoration strategies for the site once the mining has come to an end are promising. As the site is designated as an area of Borough Landscape Value and falls within the South Yorkshire Community Forest Boundaries this has the prospect of being improved and expanded upon. This idea coincides with the following policy: Policy Box 2.4: National Mineral Planning Guidance for the Reclamation of an Opencast Coalmine Policy MPG7 C16: Provide opportunities for a range of after-uses; areas for agriculture, amenity or commercial woodland, and nature conservation.

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Baseline Landscape Conditions

Baseline Visual Conditions 3. Visual Indicators In assessing the visual impacts that a development may have on the surroundings it is vital that a range of visual indicator tools are used and analysed, these include; a visual envelope map, zone of visual influence along with selective important viewpoints in the locality to form a conclusive picture of the current baseline conditions. The baseline conditions take into consideration as to how far the effects of the development will be seen by various receptors and who likely is to be most affected. 3.1

Zone of Visual Influence (ZVI)

The zone of visual influence identifies the extents as to where a develop may be seen and have a visual impact on the receptors. It is usually shown on a map where the various degrees of visual intrusion can be mapped from high to low impact. This process is objective and forms a map of visibility. 3.2

Visual Envelope (VE)

Like ZVIs, VEs show the extent and the outer limits of visibility a project has within surrounding areas. However, this is a subjective method of data collection as it depends on viewpoints chosen. 3.3

Results of ZVI and VE

From the ZVI and VE maps (see page 15) it is clear to establish that the area that will suffer from the highest degree of visual intrusion is those who live in the closest proximity to the site. This encompasses everything within the site boundary as well as areas to the west of the site including Holly House Farm to the south, Owler Lane and Spout House to the west and up to Low Bromley located to the northwest. This is due to the sloping sides of the valley that provide views across the land. The areas around Thorncliffe Wood and Westwood Bridge will also have a high degree of visibility of the development as the undulating topography forms a mound here with this being at the top of it. The furthest reaching areas that the development will have a visual impact on are the Trans Pennine Trail to the east, to the south Half Wood and Bar house, Smithy Fold to the west and finally Low Bromley to the north. It is important to take into consideration that within these areas there may in fact be zones that will not be visually effected by the development due to varying factors including; topography, woodland and or buildings that obstruct the view.

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Baseline Landscape Conditions

ZVI Map

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Baseline Landscape Conditions 3.4

Visual Receptors

This encompasses the range of possible receptors that will be affected by the development from various locations surrounding the site. The GLVI definition of visual receptors states that it ‘includes the public or community at large, residents, visitors etc. as well as the visual amenity off people affected’, (GLVI, 2nd Ed.) Viewpoints should give a representation of the receptors likely to be affected and can be both public and private. During the process possible varying factors that may alter the findings e.g. weather conditions and seasons (varying vegetation screening) should be taken into consideration. 3.4.1

Viewpoint 1: Stancliffe House Farm, Woodhead Road, Northeast view

The development will have less of a visual impact from this viewpoint as it is a distance away from the excavation site. However, due to the topography of this area, it is one of the highest advantages points; views down the slope will enable the site for the development to be highly visible. However the number of receptors to the development will be lower than other viewpoints as it has a lack of residents in the vicinity; only the farm along with a few walkers and passing people in vehicles using Hollinberry Lane. It will be a stark contrast to the character of the area, which is very natural with the woodland along with limited buildings that are use local stone in most cases.

Map 3.1 Viewport

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Baseline Landscape Conditions 3.4.2

Viewpoint 2: Carr House Farm, Storrs Lane, Southeast view

This is area will be the most effected by the visual impact of the development as it is in the closest proximity to the proposed site. Those who are most likely to see the impact are residents of the farm, and the new buildings along the road as well as those who use Storrs Lane. It will limit views across the area, as it stands viewpoint 1 can be seen from this advantage point which indicates how much of an impact the development will have on the surroundings. It is hard to draw a line of where the view end as it trails off and due to the undulating topography some areas closer will not be affected but those further away may be visually affected if they are on higher ground.

Map 3.2 Viewport

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Baseline Landscape Conditions 3.4.3

Viewpoint 3: Storrs Dyke, South view

The development will have a high impact on recreational walkers that use the public footpath and the enormity of the mounds will be felt the most. Like viewpoint 2 it is hard to draw a line of where the visual impact ends.

Map 3.3 Viewport

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Baseline Landscape Conditions 3.4.4

Viewpoint 4: Hollin Berry Farm, Hollinberry Lane, Northeast view (sheep)

The most likely receptors to the development from this viewpoint would be residents of Hollin Berry Farm, walkers and people passing by in cars. Like viewpoint 1, this point is higher than that of the development zone so the visual impact will have a significant impact with views across most of the development.

Map 3.4 Viewport

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Baseline Landscape Conditions 3.4.5

Viewpoint 5: Westwood Country Park, Southwest view

This area is the furthest away from the proposed development site, but is likely to have the most varying receptors. These are likely to include a high number of recreational walkers that are local residents as well as those travelling from further afield to use the Westwood public footpaths. Although the views are slightly obstructed by the edge of the woodland vegetation, much of the development will still be visible from this advantage point as well as the site entrance point which is likely to experience many large vehicles using it. From this advantage point it is clear to see the typical characteristics of the area; undulating fields with hedgerow boundaries and small rural settlements.

Map 3.5 Viewport

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Baseline Landscape Conditions 3.4.6

Viewpoint 6: High Green Housing Development, Northwest view

As this is the most highly populated area within the immediate locality of the proposed development it is likely that many residents will be subject to some visual impact, although the level of this will be relatively low for most as there are other houses and vegetation that obstruct most of the views. However, many two storey homes will be able to see the development on the top floor. This development is relatively new and is in contrast to the surrounding rural characteristics.

Map 3.5 Viewport

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Landscape Impact Assessment

Landscape Impact Assessment 4

Landscape Assessment “Landscape character assessment takes into account changes in the fabric, character and overall quality of the landscape as a result of the development” (Carys Swanwick, 2011).

It refers to the shape, texture and colours of the landscape and how these combine to create a distinctive character. This part of the report will identify the scope of potential and predicted impacts that the Cobex development will have on the Howbrook area. 4.1

Potential Landscape Impact

As the development will be carried out through three different phases across 20 months there is likely to be different characters and level of disturbance at each particular stage. Overall, it is probable that there will be large-scale disruption to the area involving the following:    

 

It is likely that the development will see the loss of agricultural land due to the change in topography and the topsoil, thus changing the rural character of the area. The disturbance caused by the development has the potential of destroying wildlife habitats within the area and alter wildlife corridors that use the fields and river for cover and food. Opencast coalmining could eliminate existing vegetation such as the boundary hedgerows that offer screening, habitats as well as being part of the vernacular character of the area. It is possible that due to the lengthy process that even best measurements to strip the top soil of the ‘unique seed stock’ (Developers Description Scheme), the genetic soil profile would be altered causing damage and potential loss of these seeds; this especially applies to the second phase which includes Field F5 of most value. Phase 3 of the development that is closest to the river could potentially harm the biodiversity of the river edge if erosion was to occur of the overburdens. The development could potentially scar the landscape and alter the topography of the landscape for good.

See Table 4.1 for more details. 4.2.

Predicted Landscape Impact

The predicted impacts that the development will have not only effect the immediate residents but also stretch far to surrounding small settlements on the fringe that have wide sweeping views across the undulating topography. This will change with the introduction of overburden mounds the highest being 20 metres that will obstruct. This change in topography and the closure of the public footpath however will be temporary, as the work will be carried out in phases as well as a restoration scheme that will help to mitigate this and restore the area to near enough the original contours. As the Howbrook area is of Borough Landscape Value, the predicted impacts of the development are expected to have a significant impact on the area and the typical characteristics. In Barnsley regional character map the development site falls within settled woodland, during the process this will change to commercial industry and have a heavy impact on local residents that are used to a rural

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Landscape Impact Assessment living experience. With this, the settlement will be exposed to high levels of traffic, this having an indirect effect on the air quality of the region and pollution. A long-term impact on the landscape would be the removal of some vegetation, most hedgerows as pointed out by Ecological study found little in terms of conservation value but never the less these will be lost. However, an indirect impact to vegetation is predicted to occur with the likely erosion of overburden mounds in adverse weather conditions. It is expected that sediments will enter the watercourse and could affect the pH balance. The timescale of these predicted impacts will differ therefore having varying magnitudes of impact, these can be seen further in Table 4.1.

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Landscape Impact Assessment Table 4.1

Timescale and Magnitude of Landscape Impacts

Potential Landscape Impact

Details of Impact

Predicted Impact

Landscape Receptors

Loss of agricultural land

Changes land use

Loss of farming jobs

Field pattern

Change in landscape character

Altered topography Loss of south facing grassland

Land use changes and loss of habitats

Undulating topography

Habitat destruction

Less cover and food and

Reduced Boundary biodiversity hedgerows, small mammals

Field structure

Removal of field boundaries to one large area Effects the pH balance of the soil and river corridor, biodiversity decreased

Loss of habitats and cover for small mammals Loss of soil Not nutrients enough nutrients to support mature trees would kill them Change in Destabilises Obstructed topography the soil and views, alters changes in undulating water table character

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Magnitude of Impact during Development Negative impact on a high scale

High negative impact

Moderate impact as they are unkempt

Length of Impact

Magnitude of Impact during Restoration Long term, Neutral land use is impact, likely to restoration differ after aims to the benefit restoration both and residents, mitigation wildlife and process overall character Intermediate, Low topography impact, will be sensitive restored restoration after the to ensure process, but the area land use will maintains be altered its Borough Landscape Value status Intermediate, Neutral restoration impact as project will restoration help to will see restore the new area vegetation Long term Neutral impact

Loss of hedgerows

High negative impact

Mature trees, seed stock, water courses

High negative impact, indirect effect due to likely erosion of the overburdens

Long term, may never be the same again in its structure

Neutral impact, restoration introduces new nutrients/ vegetation

Undulating landform

High negative impact for residents

Intermediate, restoration will recreate original contours

Low impact restoration will restore contours

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Visual Impact Assessment

Visual Impact Assessment 5

Visual Assessment

Visual impact character assessment: “Identifies and describes nature of receptors of visual impacts e.g. residents, road users and visitors. It considers the change in perceived landscape, especially views of a development” (Carys Swanwick, 2011) It takes into account the intrusion of new features into views and their likely obstruction of existing views. The visual impact assessment also considers the character of views and the way in which these may be altered by the new development. 5.1

Potential Visual Impacts

During and indeed after the development has concluded it is likely that the visual impacts will be long term. It is probable that the typical characteristics of the landscape aesthetically will be altered for good, during the opencast coalmining process and have a negative visual impact, it is therefore important that the necessary mitigation strategies are implemented in the restoration scheme to help negate this as much as possible. The potential visual impacts will have impacts on the following:     

5.2

The development will require a high number of large vehicles and machinery to carry out the work; this is likely to cause traffic congestion and eyesores for the residents as well as altering the rural quirt characteristics of the area. The phased work although it will allow for some areas to be restored at stages it means that the aesthetics of the area will be impaired for a long period before the overburden mounds can self-seed. The areas of highest negative visual impact will be for those receptors closest to the site boundaries that include Carr House Farm and Carr Head Farm. The topography and contours of the landscape are likely to be altered forever even with restoration project but mitigating the loss of views as much as possible is vital in after care. Visually the landscape is likely to be changed from a rural, agricultural semi-natural landscape to an intense industrial site due to the loss of vegetation and introduction of large overburdens Predicted Visual Impacts

In predicting the visual impacts, the baseline viewpoints have been used to consider who the receptors are likely to be and the magnitude of the impacts that the opencast mine will have. As well as the overburden mounds, from certain advantage points the excavation pit will be visible.

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Visual Impact Assessment 5.2.1

Viewpoint 1: Stancliffe House Farm, Woodhead Road, Northeast view

When the overburden mounds are made these will obstruct the views of West Wood, however the excavation tip is unlikely to be visible due to the distance to the actual site. The overall character of the area will be affected from this viewpoint, as the scale of the development will be seen. Number of receptors may be high from but sensitivity is low due to the majority being passing traffic. 5.2.2

Viewpoint 2: Carr House Farm, Storrs Lane, Southeast view

This area is highly sensitive to the opencast coalmine due to its proximity and all of the site will be visible. The rural characteristics will be lost, the phasing of the site will be seen clearly with the local receptors and people driving past will see the enormity of the scale of the proposed coalmine.

5.2.3

Viewpoint 3: Storrs Dyke, South view

Phase A and B are likely to be seen from this viewpoint and have a negative visual impact on the area especially for recreational walkers that use the area. Area A of the project has the longest timescale of work therefore mitigation measures will take time to become effective. The rural agricultural characteristics will be lost from this viewpoint. However the watercourse will be retained and untouched, other than any erosion from the mounds that may affect the vegetation therefore the overall appearance. Number of receptors is likely to be high from recreational walkers. 5.2.4

Viewpoint 4: Hollin Berry Farm, Hollinberry Lane, Northeast view (sheep)

Due to this viewpoint being situated on slightly raised ground the overburden mounds will be seen but the topsoil mounds are likely to obstruct some of these views. However this road will be subject to heavy traffic congestion due to the site entrance being located to the east before the junction which will lead to the indirect of increased pollution and a decrease in the air quality. The fields directly in-front of the road will be continue being pasture land for sheep, so a disjointed character will emerge for receptors to this view.

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Visual Impact Assessment 5.2.5

Viewpoint 5: Westwood Country Park, Southwest view

The primary visual impact from this viewpoint will be the visibility of the site entrance, so traffic congestion and large machinery is likely to be visible. Westwood does however obstruct some of the views across by the mature vegetation. The rural characteristics that attract many visitors and residents for recreational walks therefore sensitivity to any development is high in this area and the overall scale of the mine will be seen.

5.2.6

Viewpoint 6: High Green Housing Development, Northwest view

Views are restricted from this viewpoint due to mature trees within the estate, however it is important to take into consideration the visual impairments that the residents will experience from a two-storey house. From an elevated viewpoint the overburden mounds will be visible and an eyesore. Table 5.1

Timescale and Magnitude of Landscape Impacts Development stage

Visual Receptors Viewpoint 1 Viewpoint 2 Viewpoint 3 Viewpoint 4 Viewpoint 5 Viewpoint 6 5.3

Topsoil removal X X X X X

Screening mounds X X

Overburden mounds X X X

Excavation of 3 phases

Backfilling of 3 phases

X X

X X

X

X X

X X

X

Site entrance X X X X

Evaluation of Landscape and Visual Impacts

It is likely that the impacts of the opencast coalmine will have significant effects on both the landscape and visual aesthetics of the area on a long-term scale. Therefore, mitigation strategies are vital to help reinstate the typical characteristics found within this borough. The most significant predicted loss is that of the character of the area that may be lost without efficient restoration measures.

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Visual Impact Assessment 5.4

Sections

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Mitigation

Mitigation 6

Mitigation

Mitigation takes into account; avoidance, reduction, compensation and enhancement, these will be described below. As a whole, the process of mitigation is a tool to reduce or negate the negative impacts that a development may have on an area. These strategies can be implemented through the process to help minimise the negative impacts as well as setting projects for after the development has expired to ensure a long-term positive effect. 6.1

Avoidance

The proposal of avoidance usually sees the suggestion of relocation of a project or a re-design to avoid impact. This is not applicable to this site but the phasing of the project is well managed by Cobex Ltd. This is hoped that the project will run to schedule and avoid it extending over the intended time limit. Other measures that have been taken to avoid landscape and visual impacts as much as possible is that one of the public footpaths will remain open throughout the mining whilst one will temporarily be closed. 6.2

Reduction

Cobex Ltd. with the aim of reducing the negative visual, landscape and pollution impacts that the site entrance will have on the area, they have located it on Hollinberry Lane, this being a relatively quiet road with very few people using it, as well as it being located away from large population of local residents. To reduce the visual impacts on the wider area, the highest overburden mounds are situated at the furthest north point which is the furthest away from highly populated areas (the farm has a limited number of residents). The existing contours of the land will also help to minimise the negative impact of the scale of the project with some mounds being placed in dips. Due to Field F5 having a high level of biodiversity and species rich Cobex have taken measures to reduce the disturbance to the soil as much as possible by ensuring the top layer of soil is transported to a part of site where the seed bank will not be damaged. This is hoped to be reused within the restoration programme. Negative visual impacts will be reduced by topsoil mounds that will be seeded to obstruct some of the views of the unsightly overburden mounds. Vegetation at West Wood is likely to reduce the visual impacts of the site to recreational walkers during summer when vegetation is full, however in winter months more of the mining will be visible. 6.3

Compensation and Enhancement

This is the tool that aims to give something back in return for any damage that may be caused in the effort to negate the negative impacts. This can involve either restoring the site to the original state as close as possible or be the creation of something new to benefit the wider community.

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Restoration

Restoration 7

Restoration

7.1

Restoration Policies

Before a restoration strategy can begin it is vital that the necessary information is at hand to inform the process and ensure that it is sensitive to the area. The following policies will help to shape the restoration concept plan. Policy Box 7.1: Restoration Policies, South Yorkshire Forest Plan Policy S4: The quality of life in urban and rural settlements should be raised through improvements to the environment; encourage the creation of high quality sustainable places, encourage the active participation of local communities in the planning of their areas, encourage urban regeneration, including reclamation and remediation of derelict and under used land.

GS17: The Council will support the creation of the South Yorkshire Community Forest. (Barnsley UDP) L1: Plant new woodland to help improve derelict and disturbed land and to screen eyesores. L2: Develop an extensive network of well managed field boundaries (hedges and walls), re-planting and restoring them where necessary. 7.2

Restoration

Due to the site being of Borough Landscape Value, within the boundary of the South Yorkshire Community Forest and close to the Peak District National Park, this should be reflected within the design to help re-establish the character as semi-natural. This would encourage people to use the area recreationally and form part of a green network within the local vicinity as West Wood is often used by walkers. The enhancement and creation of new public footpaths is encouraged, with the aim of increasing the number of users of the site as well as aiding the community involvement for the site through new community initiatives. However studies carried out show that there is an optimum size of forestry that people find safe in as well as ensuring the rural agricultural character is maintained. Therefore open areas should be included. Cobex Ltd. has already stated in their developer’s description that the contours of the original landscape will be restored as close as possible to their original state to mesh the fabric of the undulating topography together. This can be used to inform the new planting plan and where screening would be preferable to create an interesting landscape. This would in turn create new and improved habitats for a variety of wildlife thus increasing local biodiversity. With the contours restored and the possible alterations in the water table due to disturbance in the process a lake or new water retention pond may be applicable to the site, therefore linking with the other water corridors in the vicinity. (See page

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Restoration 7.3

Final Statement of Unavoidable Impacts

In summary the landscape and visual impacts of an opencast coalmine will be significant and affect the character of the area with a long term effect. This can be reduced with mitigation strategies that benefit local residents as well as the biodiversity, although some elements will be lost for good which includes some vegetation. To compensate this loss, the introduction of the new species will instead enhance the area and possibly add more in terms of wealth to the levels of biodiversity richness. The restoration plan proposed for after the mining is complete will have a positive impact on the landscape and visuals although the full effect will take time to fully enhance the area to a high standard.

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Environmental Impact Assessment LSC 301 Bibliography

Bibliography        

Local Government. (NA). Planning and Building. Available: http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/planningandbuilding/pdf/155499.pdf (Last accessed 3rd Jan 2012.) Local Government. (NA). MPGs. Available: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/mineralsplanningguidan ce2 ( Last accessed 3rd Jan 2012.) Natural England. (NA) Landscape Character. Available: http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/landscape/englands/character/default.aspx (Last accessed 3rd Jan 2012.) Youth Yorkshire Forest (2002) South Yorkshire Forest Plan. Available: http://www.syforest.co.uk/downloads/S_York_Forest_plan.pdf (Last accessed 5th Jan 2012) IAIA GLVA Second Edition Carys Swanwick Lecture Series Barnsley. (NA) Barnsley UDP. Available: http://www.barnsley.gov.uk (Last accessed 5th Jan 2012)

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EIA report