MPA Responds to Queen’s Speech and Coalition’s ‘Programme for Government’
Thursday, May 27th, 2010
In response to the Queen’s Speech and publication of the Coalition’s ‘Programme for Government’ document, the Mineral Products Association will work positively with Government so that the development which is necessary to help “restore economic growth” is not constrained by a lack of minerals products for the construction and manufacturing sectors.
MPA stresses that it is critical the Decentralisation and Localism Bill, which will “devolve greater powers to local councils and neighbourhoods and give local communities control over housing and planning decisions”, is matched by a clear national strategic policy framework and a commitment that ensures the construction and other industries continue to receive a steady and adequate supply of aggregates and other key minerals.
Nigel Jackson, Chief Executive MPA, said:
“We understand the localism agenda and our industry is used to co-existing with local communities throughout the country, particularly in rural areas where we are a significant employer. There is, however, a danger that this policy direction could be hijacked by those opposed to development in general and encourage nimbyism. We have a responsibility to work with local communities constructively and transparently but Government also has a responsibility to ensure that planning decisions are balanced, reasonable and reflect both national and local interests and that there is an appropriate structure to support this.”
MPA is also determined to see a far greater share of the Aggregate Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF) directed to local communities. MPA is calling for the ALSF spending on local communities in quarrying areas to be at least 33% and up to 50% of the total annual fund per annum from 2011/12 onwards, and for measures to be introduced to ensure that this funding is used for its intended purpose – to directly benefit local communities in quarrying areas.
In the Coalition’s ‘Programme for Government’ document which sets out the Conservative-Lib Dem Government’s plans for the next five years, reference is also made to “creating a presumption in favour of sustainable development in the planning system”, to “improvements to the energy efficiency of new housing” and to “restoring Biodiversity”. MPA welcomes Government’s commitment in these areas as they are priorities the industry shares.
MPA has an essential contribution to make to sustainable development, providing responsibly sourced materials to the highest levels of the Code for Sustainable Homes and BREEAM. The through-life energy credentials of concrete construction and its valuable thermal mass benefits are now widely recognized. Several MPA members, accounting for a large proportion of the mineral products industry, have achieved responsible sourcing accreditation for their materials.
MPA is also involved in the Nature After Minerals project with the RSPB to encourage increased realisation of biodiversity during restoration of mineral extraction sites, providing specific advice to industry and planners and building integrated awareness of biodiversity opportunities as early as possible in the planning process.
In addition, this year the Natural England Biodiversity Awards, in association with MPA, have now been launched which will recognize the industry’s exceptional achievements and potential to protect and enhance the nation’s biodiversity. The awards were launched as a partnership between Natural England and MPA and focus on the fact that few, if any, other industries actively manage land on a scale that enables them to make a positive large-scale contribution to natural habitats and UK BAP.