press release, 15 June 1998, issued through Wildlife & Countryside Link
(embargoed until 22 June 1998)
Government money funds quarry industry's 'greenwash'
Leading environmental organisations (1) have today (Monday) united to draw
attention to the wide ranging environmental impacts of quarrying at the
start of Minerals '98 week (2).
The environmental organisations' campaign reveals that Government has spent
UKP72,000 (3) in promoting this public relations week for the minerals
industry. They argue that the Government should instead be investing money
into researching ways to avoid digging up beautiful and important countryside.
As demand for `low grade building material' has increased over the past
forty years (4), quarrying and dredging (5) has meant countryside and
coastal areas have been squandered. Although minerals can make a
significant contribution to modern lifestyles by providing material for
roads, houses and public buildings, the environmental impacts of quarrying
and dredging cannot be ignored and must be addressed.
For example, the groups highlight that quarrying and dredging can affect
the quality of people's lives (6) and can lead to:
* the irreversible loss of landscape;
* the destruction of archaeological sites, both on land and at sea;
* the loss of species and habitats; and
* increased coastal erosion.
The groups are calling on the Government to:
* recognise the environmental thresholds to minerals extraction and to
promote new planning mechanisms to encourage efficient and appropriate use;
* abandon the 'predict and provide' approach to planning for minerals as it
did for house and road building; and
* introduce a tax on mineral extraction.
One of the themes underlying Minerals '98 is the quarry industry's
resistance to a minerals tax signalled by the Chancellor Gordon Brown.
However, the campaigners believe that a quarrying tax would be wholly
consistent with the Government's intention to tax environmentally damaging
activities, rather than adding to the tax burden on employment (7).
The Group's view is that by funding Minerals '98, the Government is
displaying remarkable insensitivity to the environmental impacts of
quarrying and dredging and is giving special favours to the minerals
industry which other industries do not enjoy.
They say "it is time the Government lived up to its promise to 'put the
environment at the heart of all its policy making' and it could start with
NOTES TO EDITORS
(1) This statement is supported by the following organisations: British
Association for Nature Conservationsists; British Ecological Society;
Council for British Archaeology; Council for National Parks; CPRE; Marine
Conservation Society; the Ramblers' Sssociation; and Youth Hostels
Association (England and Wales).
(2) In response to a Parliamnetary question (February 1998) John Battle
MP, the Energy Minister, said "Minerals '98 week is designed to demonstrate
the vital role of the non-energy minerals sector in the economy and
encourage debate on achieving a sustainable UK minerals industry."
(3) The Department of Trade and Industry has provided a grant of up to
UKP64,000 to support the programme of activities which constitutes Minerals
'98 (PQ No 97/2771, answer by John Battle MP to question by Norman Baker
MP, 23.2.98). A further UKP8,000 has been contributed by the Department of
the Environment, Transport and the Regions (PQ 30604/97/98, answer by Nick
Raynsford MP to question by Norman Baker MP, 23.2.98).
(4) The 1998 DETR report, 'Environmental costs and benefits of the supply
of aggregates', notes that the demand for aggregates in the UK has
increased markedly from 1950, when it was about 60 million tonnes per year,
to a peak of 300 million tonnes extracted in 1989. Current demand is about
250 million tonnes per annum. There are currently 2,505 mineral workings
in the UK.
(5) The principal sources of aggregates in the UK are landbased hard rock,
sand and gravel, and marine aggregates. Sources on land supply 96% of
aggregate demand. (hard rock quarries 60%, sand and gravel quarries 32%,
secondary aggregates 4%). The other 4% comes from marine sources
('Quarrying Today', Spring 1998).
(6) Most people interviewed in surveys for the 1998 DETR report identified
at least one problem with their local quarry, marine wharf, or demolition
waste recycling site. The proportion of problems reported was highest for
those living near hard rock or sand & gravel quarries. The most frequently
identified problems were: volume of lorry traffic, dirt or damage to roads
and dust. The main problem identified by those living close to a coastal
super-quarry was the adverse affects on nature.
(7) In January 1998 Council for British Archaeology, Council for National
Parks, CPRE, Ramblers' Association, Royal Society for the Protection of
Birds, and WWF-UK (World Wide Fund For Nature), under the umbrella of
Wildlife and Countryside Link, wrote to Dawn Primarolo MP, Financial
Secretary to the Treasury, in support of the Government's intention to
introduce a tax on aggregates extraction.
NATIONAL PRESS CONTACTS:
For information about environmental impacts of minerals extraction on land:
Ruth Chambers (Council for National Parks) 0171 924 4077
Lilli Matson (CPRE) 0171 976 6433
Elaine Gilligan (Friends of the Earth) 0171 490 1555
Mike Heyworth (Council for British Archaeology) 01904 671417
For specific information about the environmental impacts in the marine
Sam Pollard (Marine Conservation Society) 01989 566 017
Dr Michael Heyworth Council for British Archaeology
Bowes Morrell House, 111 Walmgate, York YO1 9WA, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1904 671417 Fax: +44 (0)1904 671384