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Evaluating the success of land reclamation schemes

Landscape Planning
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0304-3924(84)90044-3
  • Law


Abstract Since the passage of the first United Kingdom (U.K.) Town and Country Planning Act in 1947, an increasingly comprehensive legislative framework has covered mineral extraction. Operators have increasingly been required to restore land after workings cease. Often, this simply involved the removal of plant, grading of surfaces and sowing of grass seed, which gave rise to the public view that “if it was green it was good restoration”. In recent years, attitudes towards restoration have been changing, particularly in relation to opencast coal mining, which paradoxically is a sector with a good reclamation record. Emphasis is increasingly being placed on the quality of reclamation rather than whether reclamation occurs. This can be seen as a predictable development given the pressures placed upon the U.K. land resource. The 1981 Minerals Act has provided U.K. planning authorities with numerous powers concerning the reclamation of land after mining. Of particular importance are aftercare provisions which attempt to ensure that land is not only reclaimed, but also reclaimed to a “required standard”. The Minerals Act, together with other forces, have created interest in the objectives of reclamation schemes and in the assessment of the quality of restoration. In the U.S.A., increasing attention is also being directed towards this subject, the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 being a very important catalyst in this regard, as it legislated standards for successful revegetation. This paper will review the reasons why the establishment of a monitoring framework to evaluate the success of land reclamation is needed within the U.K. planning procedures. A few of the noteworthy land reclamation studies will be highlighted to illustrate the present-day monitoring approach. The need for an alternative monitoring framework, together with the associated issues, will be presented ; issues such as performance standards, what should be monitored, and who should be responsible for the monitoring and the financial aspects.

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