On 22 February 2012, two reports on the state of conservation of the World Heritage property “Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape” were submitted by the State Party – one covering the resumption of mining at South Crofty and the other one covering the development proposals for HayleHarbour. Upon the World Heritage Centre’s request for further details on these and other development proposals at the property, with particular regard to the inclusion of the property’s state of conservation on the agenda of the 36th session of the World Heritage Committee (St. Petersburg, 2012), the State Party replied on 16 March 2012 that it might not be able to provide all requested information. Further details on the proposals were transmitted on 23 and 29 March 2012.
a) Resumption of mining at South Crofty
In its state of conservation report of 22 February 2012, the State Party notified the World Heritage Centre about plans to resume mining within the World Heritage property at South Crofty, which was the last working mine in Cornwall until its closure in 1998, and that planning consent for new buildings and for underground mining activities had been granted. The report also included visuals of the proposed mine buildings in the context of the cultural landscape. According to the State Party planning consent for the resumption of mining at South Crofty was issued on 3 November 2011. On 28 May 2008, the State Party had sent an advance notice of a possible planning application for the resumption of mining operations in the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape.
The proposed scheme for South Crofty Mine would allow the continuation of winning and working of minerals by relocation to land surrounding the Tuckingmill Decline and by erection of buildings, plant and works for ore processing, ancillary processes, associated operations and deliveries, comprising: a main processing plant building, an aggregate store, an electricity substation, a fuel storage, tailings treatment, an emergency tailings store, ancillary buildings (including chemical silos and storage containers), mine shaft ventilation caps, a water treatment plant, access roads and car park areas. The planning application is available online at http://planning.cornwall.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab= summary&keyVal=L6MSCQFG0K600. The Environmental Statement provides an assessment of the impact of the proposal on the World Heritage property and stresses the opportunity to open a visitor attraction with the processing plant as an interpretation centre.
The State Party considers that the resumption of mining is strongly in accord with the intangible values of the site and the traditions of the Cornish mining industry. They further consider that the impact on the Outstanding Universal Value will be minimal. The proposals involve one structure that needs to be moved and some new waste tips.
The Management Plan for the property, which was included in the nomination, noted that at the time of drafting there were proposals for the resumption of mining activity outside the property at the South Crofty Tin Mine which might affect the setting of the property. The current proposals are, however, for an area partly within the property.
b) Development proposal for Hayle Harbour
HayleHarbour was the main port for the Cornish mining industry on the north Cornish coast. The State Party in its state of conservation report of 22 February 2012 notified the World Heritage Centre about the current South Quay proposal, an outline application for a large supermarket with a net sales area of approximately 40,000 sqft (c71,300 sqft gross) and parking for 310 cars on a privately owned area of open land in the centre of Hayle Harbour. The outline application further includes four small retail units around an area of public open space and 30 residential units to the end of South Quay, along with a restaurant. The report also included visuals of the proposed development.
English Heritage in its letter of 26 September 2011 addressed to the Planning & Regeneration Cornwall Council as attached to the State Party report, noted that this proposal would harm, rather than enhance or better reveal, the ability of HayleHarbour to express the Outstanding Universal Value. Therefore, English Heritage had objected to this proposal. The Council voted to approve the scheme in October 2011. Despite the lack of agreement between the Planning & Regeneration Cornwall Council and English Heritage on this matter, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government did not call the case in for a public inquiry and therefore, the Cornwall Council can decide this application.
c) Other issues
Besides the development projects above, the World Heritage Centre was informed by individuals about the proposed erection and operation of a waste management facility within the immediate periphery of the Gwennap Mining District to include the storage, recycling and transfer of suitable wastes and the storage, processing and transfer of other suitable wastes for production of Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF), provision of a new office building, vehicle workshop and vehicle parking to serve the above and ancillary developments including provision of foul and surface water drainage, fencing and landscaping. The planning application is available online at http://planning.cornwall.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=LS9XJNFG0K600. The World Heritage status of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape is not mentioned under the list of application constraints, although the area surrounding the proposed development, including the access Byway (301/1/3), the surrounding Bridleways and part of the bridleway across the site and the sites peripheral are within the World Heritage property. The State Party has not provided any comments to the World Heritage Centre on this project so far.