Public Consultation And Permissions

Public Consultation And Permissions

Public Consultation

During the development of the scheme extensive consultations and workshops were held with key stakeholders, statutory groups, community representatives and Combe Down residents whose properties were affected by the stabilisation project to ensure that the final stabilisation option chosen would be acceptable to the majority of residents of Combe Down as well as complying with best practice and value for money criteria.

Risks associated with the project, including political risks in the form of a planning enquiry, technical risks, health and safety as well as financial and legal risks were also identified.

Acquiring permissions

The Stone Mines project involved a complex legal process to obtain the necessary permissions to enable emergency works to go ahead as the mines were deemed to be owned by the properties above.

To carry out stabilisation work beneath individual properties the Council had to first seek permission from landowners to enter private land. Initially Emergency Works Permissions were obtained to carry out work essential to public health and safety and under Permitted Development rights there was no need for an application for planning permission.

It is estimated that the A3602 North Road, which effectively serves as the southern relief road for Bath city centre, carries in excess of 13,000 vehicles per day and as a consequence of the potential collapse a 7.5 tonne weight restriction was put in place during the emergency stabilisation works.

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Planning application

In 2002 the Council submitted a planning application, and in 2003 received approval, to stabilise the full extent of the Firs and Byfield mine complex over which sit approximately 650 properties.

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Mineral Workings Act

The use of the Mineral Workings Act 1985 was considered, as part of the purpose of this Act was to confer powers in connection with the reclamation, improvement, or bringing into use of certain land in which mining operations (other than coal mining) had taken place in the past. The Council decided to seek external legal advice on whether the Act could be used to enter properties and land parcels in order to carry out mine stabilisation works of the nature and scale of that at Combe Down. It was agreed by the legal advisor that the Act was applicable to the situation at Combe Down, although it is thought it had never been used in this way before. Sections 7 and 8 of the Mineral Workings Act gave the Council the right to enter land for stabilisation works and entrance could not be refused.

The Mineral Workings Act requires that a Notice has to be served on all those with an interest in the land where works are proposed to take place, and that this is issued not less than 21 days before the intended start of works.

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