British Gypsum has welcomed Nottinghamshire County Council’s unanimous decision to grant another 25 years of planning permission for the continuing extraction of gypsum mineral at East Leake’s Marblaegis Mine.
The application was considered alongside a periodic Review of Mineral Planning Permission (ROMP), which includes enhanced proposals to boost biodiversity in the mine’s restoration programme and an application to extend the number of years over which the mine is allowed to operate.
This decision will allow the recovery of around eight million tonnes of gypsum reserves owned by the company up until 2042, helping to secure jobs for many of British Gypsum’s 400 employees at the mine and in East Leake plant, as well as develop some important new meadowland wildlife habitats.
Minerals and Estates Manager Jeremy Elvins explains that as well as being an important local decision, it’s a strategically significant one to secure the future of plaster and plasterboard manufacturing in the East Midlands.
He says: “The phasing out of coal-fired power stations means we have reducing access to ‘synthetic gypsum’ or desulphogypsum, also called DSG, an important by-product we have been recycling into plasterboard since the early 1990s.
“We need to counteract this reduction in DSG output by increasing supply from mined and quarried natural gypsum as well as continuing to support plasterboard recycling programmes. This will help ensure we can meet growing demand for British-made plasterboard and plaster products within important national construction projects such as schools, hospitals and housing.”
At a local level, this planning decision is also good news for wildlife says British Gypsum’s independent consultant ecologist Antony Lacey from Derby-based FCPR. He explains that the ROMP review includes specific plans to enhance biodiversity on the land around the Silverseal mine entrance at Bunny.
Mr Lacey says: “This permission will extend both the area covered by the agreement and the length of the management plan, and will aim to increase the areas of species-rich grassland which, due largely to modern agricultural practices, are declining both locally and nationally.
“The net result of this will be more suitable habitats for a range of wildlife, including the Grizzled Skipper butterfly, which is classified as high priority for conservation and is a species we hope to attract. In 2016 we identified 19 other different butterfly species on-site at Silverseal.
“Current ecological monitoring of the site, undertaken to guide management and ensure biodiversity value is maximised, will also be continued. The records generated as part the monitoring will be submitted to local and national recording schemes,” he adds.
Elsewhere in the plan, British Gypsum has changed its approach in some areas following local feedback and in line with its aim to work closely with local communities and ensure environmental impact is minimised.