Green deal proposed by UK aggregate firms

Package of voluntary measures would be more effective than taxes, says trade association

The UK minerals extraction industry has proposed a package of environmental initiatives designed to fend off a threatened tax on virgin aggregates. Launching its "new deal" in London yesterday, the Quarry Products Association (QPA) said that the measures proposed would achieve "far greater environmental benefits" than "any form" of aggregates tax.

In its first budget after winning national elections in 1997, the Labour government announced that it was considering introducing a tax on surface minerals extraction designed to stimulate the use of recycled materials (ENDS Daily 3 July 1997). NGOs welcomed the move as an important step in introducing a coordinated environmental taxation programme.

The QPA has opposed the plan for an aggregates tax, which it said yesterday would "unnecessarily damage a significant UK industry". It has developed its own package of voluntary and regulatory measures in response to a government offer to "consider carefully" any alternatives put forward by the sector.

The QPA's plan includes a commitment to industry-wide implementation of the international environmental management standard ISO 14001 within three years. The industry is offering to carry out environmental impact assessments on all new extractive operations regardless of their size. It is also promising to create and fund a new UK£20m (Ecu28.5m) per year foundation to support various environmental projects.

Industry-wide certification to ISO 14001 would lead to more "substantial environmental gains," the QPA said yesterday, than either regulation or taxation. It claimed its initiative was the first time a whole UK industry sector had pledge to achieve compliance with a recognised environmental management standard, which it said would cover 2,000 quarry and related operations.

Early ISO 14001 implementation would cost the industry up to UK£25m per year, the QPA estimated. Linked to the initiative, the industry said it would generate a series of cross-industry environmental performance indicators. These would provide benchmarks to measure progress towards sustainable development, the QPA said.

The proposed national foundation would launch several initiatives, according to the QPA. These would include a programme to ensure rehabilitation of "orphan" quarries, a national research programme on sustainable development of quarrying, an extended quarry restoration guarantee scheme, and a biodiversity plan.

Other pledges made by the QPA include the introduction of a compulsory transport code of practice, a review of quarrying activities in national parks, the initiation of a major training programme "throughout the industry" to extend environmental best practice and knowledge. The association also proposes an extension of local authority air pollution controls to all extractive operations.

Follow Up:
UK Quarry Products Association, tel: +44 171 730 8194.

Please sign in to access this article. To subscribe, view our subscription options, or take out a free trial.

Please enter your details

Forgotten password?

Having trouble signing in?

Contact Customer Support at
subs@endseurope.com
or call 020 8267 8120

Not a subscriber?

Take a free trial now to discover the critical insights and updates our coverage offers subscribers.