SUMMARY OF RESPONSES TO THE CONSULTATION ON THE OBJECTIVES OF THE SUSTAINABILITY FUND UNDER THE AGGREGATES LEVY PACKAGE
1) In the July 1997 Budget, the Government announced that work would be undertaken to look at the environmental costs associated with
the extraction of aggregates, and other quarrying practices.
2) The Department of Environment Transport and the Regions (DETR) then commissioned two rounds of independent research from
London Economics. This verified that there are significant environmental costs associated with quarrying. These costs include noise, dust, visual intrusion, loss of amenity and damage to biodiversity.
3) In Budget 2000, the Chancellor announced that an aggregates levy would be introduced in April 2002 to address these environmental costs
and encourage recycling. The revenues from the levy would be recycled to business through a 0.1 percentage point cut in employers National Insurance Contributions from April 2002 and a new Sustainability Fund. The aim of the Sustainability Fund would be to complement the objectives of the levy and deliver local environmental benefits to areas subject to the environmental costs of aggregates extraction.
4) Following this announcement, the Government issued a consultation paper1, which invited comments from interested parties on the best uses of the Fund. The consultation paper put forward a number of possibilities and respondents were asked to provide comments on how these objectives could best be delivered. Copies were sent to a wide range of organisations which had previously taken part in related consultations and a number of other interested parties. The consultation paper was made available on the HM Treasury and DETR websites.
5) This summary includes the comments from the responses which were received up to and including 6 October 2000.
6) The consultation exercise suggested 6 possible options for the Fund:
Respondents were also asked to comment on the following key questions
relating to these options:
Overall response to the Consultation
8) The consultation generated a total of 116 responses, 86 of which were received by 6 October 2000. The Budget 2000 announcement that a Sustainability Fund to deliver environmental benefits to areas affected by quarrying, was supported by all respondents. A list of all respondents (other than those who requested confidentiality) is provided at Annex A. The respondents include local authorities, environmental groups and organisations associated with the aggregates industry. Annex B provides a fuller breakdown of respondents by category.
9) The summary of responses to the consultation exercise has been grouped by the six objectives put forward in the consultation document.
Option 1: Overcoming market barriers and promoting increased use of alternative materials as aggregates
10) A large number of the respondents suggested that the top priority of the Fund should be reducing the need to use primary aggregates, complementing the impact of the levy itself. Whilst many respondents thought there was scope for making additional use of alternative materials as aggregates, some respondents felt there was a need to raise awareness and promote confidence in the use of these materials within the construction industry and the public. For example, it was suggested that feasibility studies and demonstration projects could be used to promote alternative materials.
11) Some respondents also felt that the Fund could be used to encourage fuller utilisation of by-products at the construction site and encouraging further research and better information about these materials.
12) Examples of views expressed by respondents included:
· Collating data on the use of alternative materials would inform the industry and the public on how widely these materials are being used.
· Feasibility studies and demonstration projects could be used to promote the use of alternative materials.
· Research should be carried out on the use of alternative materials such as glass waste, drawing on international experience if necessary.
· Care should be taken that research projects are not duplicated.
· Alternative materials would need to be processed at very large sites. Derelict land should be considered for this purpose.
13) A large number of respondents suggested that there was some merit in identifying good practice and measuring the benefits of improved processes on the industry against defined industry wide criteria. Some respondents suggested that the important role of disseminating information could come within the remit of an Aggregates Advisory Service. This could manage technical projects, publish technical findings and disseminate information to the industry and the public. But some respondents thought that this was an area which should be funded either wholly or partly by the quarrying industry.
14) Examples of views expressed by respondents to included:
· More emphasis should be placed the scope for re-using on-site building materials.
· More research should be put into producing technical guidance on reducing future environmental impact.
· The Fund should be used to assist in studies of local materials.
· Research into sustainable construction practices has already been carried out. Any further research should be undertaken by the construction industry.
15) Most respondents suggested that promoting conservation and biodiversity should be an important priority for the Fund. Many responses felt that this would deliver tangible and recognisable benefits to the areas which are directly affected by quarrying.
16) Examples of views expressed by respondents included:
· Fund should be used to promote increased education and awareness within the industry.
· Sites of geological interest should also be taken into account.
· All Biodiversity projects eligible for funding should receive comprehensive audits.
· Disused quarries or sandpits could be developed into nature reserves for the local community.
· The Fund should also be used to subsidise staffing costs for prescribed posts on biodiversity surveys.
17) Many respondents supported the idea that the Fund could be used to restore areas scarred by past quarrying activity. But respondents did not think that the Fund should have a role where there were other restoration mechanisms or planning controls already in place.
18) Some respondents supported the restoration of so called orphan sites, but there were concerns about possible legal constraints. Some respondents were keen to ensure that land owners should not benefit from the increase in value of a site which has been restored using the Fund.
19) Some respondents also felt that whilst promoting conservation and increased biodiversity should be given a high priority, the Fund should not be restricted to areas designated as National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).
20) A majority of respondents felt that orphan sites should be developed either into nature reserves or amenity sites for the public.
21) Examples of views expressed by respondents included:
· Land ownership constraints may hinder restoration of orphan sites.
· Restoring old quarries may result in the loss of industrial heritage. Industrial archaeology in rural mining areas should be preserved.
· Improvements should apply to all landscapes and not those which are nationally important.
· Restoration of orphan sites should only take place if there is no other mechanism (such as Derelict Land Grants) to do so.
· Restoration should also extend to areas of landscape value.
· Former quarry sites could be restored through Derelict Land grants.
22) There was some support for measures which encouraged more environmentally friendly quarrying practices and reduced the environmental impact of quarrying. But many respondents felt that this was the responsibility of the quarry operators and should not be subsidised through the Fund.
23) As a result many respondents suggested that promoting environmentally friendly quarrying practices should not be a high priority although there was some support for using the Fund to assist in the development of national performance indicators and standards. This would allow the environmental performance of individual quarries to be monitored.
24) In addition to the primary objectives of the Fund, a number of respondents suggested that the Fund should not be restricted to sites which are of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), but also used to conserve sites of important industrial heritage and sites which have a geological interest.
25) Some respondents thought that the Fund could be used to conduct research into the impact of transporting aggregates from extraction site. Further research could be undertaken on how to encourage greater utilisation of the rail and waterway network for the efficient transportation of aggregate.
26) A number of respondents felt that more research into the impacts of marine aggregate extraction could usefully be supported by the Fund.
27) Examples of views expressed by respondents included:
· Individual site operators should ensure that the best environmental standards are met under current minerals planning guidance.
· Responsibility must remain with the industry.
· Fund could be used to subsidise capital cost of rail and waterway infrastructure to improve movement of aggregates.
· Fund should assist in providing industry wide indicators and standards.
28) Many respondents felt that the Fund should not be used to subsidise activities which quarry operators carry out as part of their obligations under planning guidance.
29) Most local authorities felt that the Fund could be used to assist with other projects (such as the provision of amenity) in addition to the sites located in the immediate vicinity of a quarry.
30) Many respondents thought that community projects should be tightly defined and contribute directly to providing environmental benefits to those areas most affected by quarrying. Many respondents believed that the Fund should not be a general resource to support any good causes.
31) Examples of views expressed by respondents included:
· Aggregate companies should fund these initiatives.
· Fund could be used to provide amenity and enhancing public rights of way.
· Fund could be used to fund road improvements.
· Quarries should be used for amenity and educational purposes.
· Assistance should be available to properly constituted joint committees representing industry and local communities.
· Local improvements should receive assistance from the Fund.
32) Some respondents also made general comments on the Sustainability Fund, including:
· Environmental standards between quarries should be benchmarked, scored and the results published every 2 3 years.
· Impacts concerning local transport should be dealt with under Local Transport Plans.
Repair and enhancement to stone landscapes
which have been damaged by quarry traffic.
The Fund should be confined to disseminating technical guidance and should be involved in promoting new products.
33) Many respondents suggested that the most effective methods of delivering the environmental benefits would be through a central funding mechanism. Suggestions on how this could be achieved included delivering funding through an existing grant distribution body.
Monitoring and evaluating effectiveness of the Fund
34) Some respondents thought that the effectiveness of the Fund should be measured against key performance indicators. Some respondents also felt there was an important role for the Fund in disseminating information from the projects it funded. One option for doing this was via an Aggregates Advisory Service which could disseminate the information through hard copy summaries and the Internet.
35) All of the comments received supported the idea of setting up a Sustainability Fund and a majority of responses suggested that the primary aim of the Fund should be to reduce the amount of primary aggregate extracted, overcome market barriers and promote increased use of alternative materials. A number of respondents felt that research into marine aggregate extraction could usefully be supported by the Fund.
36) A number of respondents indicated that the Fund should not be used to support activities which are properly the responsibility of the quarrying industry. Research into more sustainable construction practices and promoting increased biodiversity, were also highlighted as priorities for the Fund.
37) Some respondents also thought that the Fund could ensure that information on best practice within the construction and aggregate extraction industry was made available through published journals and the Internet. A large number of respondents also felt that the effectiveness of the Fund could be measured against defined criteria.
38) A number of respondents suggested that providing support for environmentally friendly quarrying practices and local community projects were of a lower priority as these activities could be seen as the proper responsibility of the quarry operators.
LIST OF RESPONDENTS
Albion Stone Quarries Limited
Arun District Council
Association of National Parks Authorities
Biffa Waste Services Limited
Blackburn & Darwen Borough Council
Bridgend County Borough Council
British Glass Manufacturers Confederation
Building Research Establishment
Cambridgeshire County Council
Cardiff County Council Planning Offices
Civil Engineering Contractors Association
Cornwall County Council
Council for National Parks
Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE)
County Durham Environmental Trust Limited
County Environmental Trust
County Surveyors Society (CSS)
Department of Transport and the Regions (DETR), Planning Inspectorate, Bristol
Derbyshire County Council
Devon County Council
Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council
Dry Stone Walling Association
Earth Science Teachers Association (ESTA)
East Sussex County Council
Energy from Waste Association
Environmental Advisory Service
Environmental Trust Scheme Regulatory Body (ENTRUST)
Government Office, North East
Green Balance Planning and Environment Services
Harbridge Protection Society
Hereford County Council (Waste & Planning Division)
Hertfordshire County Council
Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management (ILAM)
Kaolin and Ball Clay Association (UK)
Kent County Council
Leeds City Council, England
London Borough of Redbridge
Luton Borough Council
Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food
Mr. C Woods
Mr. P Morgan
National Stone Centre
Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council
Norfolk County Council
Northumberland County Council
Northumberland Environmental Partnership
Nottinghamshire County Council
On North East
Oxfordshire County Council
Peak District National Park Authority
Planning Officers Society
Quarry Products Association
Robert Long Consultancy Ltd
Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors
Royal Society for Nature Conservation
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Rutland Railway Museum
Sheffield City Council
Shropshire County Council
Snowdonia National Park
South Gloucestershire Council
Staffordshire County Council
Staffordshire Environmental Fund
Suffolk County Council
Surrey County Council
The Cotswold Water Park
The Crown Estate
The Geological Society of London
The Highways Agency
Todmorden Moor Restoration Trust
UKRIGS Geoconservation Association
United Kingdom Quality Ash Association (UKQAA)
West Midlands Regional Aggregates Working Party
Wildlife & Countryside Link
CATEGORY OF RESPONDENTS
Table 1.1 Responses by sector
1 Consultation on the Objectives of the Sustainability Fund under the Aggregates Levy Package HM Treasury, August 2000
 All representations received as a result of the consultation exercise have been taken into account informing the Chancellors PBR statement. This document is a summary of those responses received by 6 October 2000, the closing date for the Consultation exercise.