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Northern Ireland plans for mineral planners

Local council officers

IQ and QPANI team up to ensure mineral planners are better informed about resource planning

MORE than 30 mineral planners working in local authorities across Northern Ireland signed up to a bespoke resource-planning course designed by the Institute of Quarrying (IQ), in partnership with the Quarry Products Association Northern Ireland (QPANI).

‘Mineral Planning for Mineral Planners’ is the core unit of an online training programme that provides an in-depth understanding of the complexities of mineral planning. The course was originally launched in the UK in 2016 and has now been tailored to fit the specific needs of mineral planners in Northern Ireland.

Julian Smallshaw, head of educational development at the Institute of Quarrying, explained: ‘Following devolution in Northern Ireland there has been a major review of public administration, with many powers being passed down to local authorities from central control.

‘Gordon Best at QPANI has championed the need to better inform mineral planners about resource planning. Getting to this point has involved a period of consultation, as well as numerous visits to local councils, to get a clearer understanding of local needs.

‘The result has been hugely successful, with 31 mineral planners from all over Northern Ireland signed up to our development programme.’

QPANI regional quarry director Gordon Best added: ‘The local authority landscape has changed significantly since devolution, with more power and responsibility now held at a local level. We identified a real gap in the understanding of local planners for which the Institute of Quarrying had a ready-made solution, albeit one that needed tailoring to fit local needs.

‘I’m a firm believer that if regulators and planners are making critical decisions about the industry, they should be part of it. We have an obligation to train them and make them aware of the issues and challenges the industry faces. That’s exactly what we have developed with IQ.

‘The programme has been really well received and we are already reaping the rewards of better-informed planners. Planners are now better equipped to make decisions about resources. Anything that helps create a more joined-up process has to be welcomed.’

Julian Smallshaw continued: ‘Peer review was an essential stage in the development of the content of the course for mineral planners. We sense-checked course content with Keyworth-based Heaton Planning, an established professional planning consultancy, as well as other prominent industry professionals.’

Additional areas of online study include restoration techniques, environmental awareness, environmental impacts of blasting, and a quarry geotechnical overview. The final component of the programme is a 2,000-word assignment, which is marked by Dr Rob Donnelly, programme leader for mineral extractives at the University of Derby.

The course also provides 30 hours of accredited continuing professional development (CPD) through the Institute of Quarrying.

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