The UK government has published draft legislation for a tax on aggregates and threatened to introduce it unless the minerals industry improves on its existing offer to reduce the environmental impacts of quarrying. In an accompanying consultation paper addressing the practicalities of a tax, the finance ministry said on Friday that recycled aggregate, silica sand, lime and other minerals used for industrial purposes might be exempted. The idea of taxing virgin aggregates has been under consideration since the Labour government took power two years ago and would be levied on commercial exploitation of both domestically produced and imported crushed rock, sand and gravel. The Quarry Products Association responded today by claiming that the paper showed the tax would be a "blunt and ineffective instrument levied on all aggregates quarries regardless of their environmental performance or impact" - although the paper stated specifically that it did not set out to gauge opinion on the environmental case for the tax. The organisation added, however, that it was confident that it could work "in partnership" with the government to "deliver demonstrable environmental benefits in areas such as sustainable development, environmental management and biodiversity more efficiently and effectively," indicating that an improved offer for a voluntary agreement would be forthcoming.
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