All open pit mines cause temporary visual impact to some degree. OML seeks to minimise that temporary impact as far as practicable. Natural landforms and landscaping restricts open views of the site to one main direction. Some 27, 500 trees have been planted on site boundaries and at strategic locations. Stockpiles have been covered with soil and vegetated - this is a temporary measure. The site will be permanently restored and carried out as far as possible on an ongoing basis. The open pit is back filled as it is mined and the surplus rock (produced by natural swell when the rock is broken) is integrated into the local aggregates industry.
The restoration work is detailed within OML's 'Closure Plan'. This is OML's blueprint for restoration and has been produced with extensive local consultation. A planning requirement to remove the surplus rock causes an increase in heavy traffic loading for the removal period and OML has made efforts to minimise the impact on local residents. This includes the management of operating hours, number of vehicles, road improvements and other matters. The completion of the plan will restore the site to upland grassland with woodland and wetland.
The 'Closure Plan' relates to the open pit and remainder of the site. It does not impact OML's application for underground mining. The 'Closure Plan' has recently been permitted through the planning process and received the consent of the Department of the Environment Northern Ireland on 22nd February 2012.
Due to procedural errors in determination of the application by the Northen Ireland Planning Service, the closure plan was to be reconsidered by Planning Service.
As part of OML's application for underground mining, a new closure plan was submitted and this plan includes a full Environmental Impact Assessment. The planning permit relating to underground mining and surface restoration has now been granted but is subject to judicial review. The plan has passed the scrutiny of the statutory consultees and management awaits final approvals (as required by the planning consent) so it can continue restoration.