UK mineral products sector says "build back better" must deliver quicker

The UK-based Mineral Products Association (MPA) has cautiously welcomed the Prime Minister's speech and his determination to "build back better" but warned that without a real focus on accelerated delivery it could disappoint and undermine confidence to invest.
Quarry Products / June 30, 2020
By Guy Woodford
MPA chief executive Nigel Jackson
MPA chief executive Nigel Jackson

PM Boris Johnson's themes of investing in infrastructure, levelling up and improving our environment are all shared by our industry, as is the ambition to enhance UK environmental performance and boost the economy and jobs in all regions.

The industry is playing its part environmentally. MPA recently published updated figures showing Great Britain still top of the European table for recycled and secondary aggregates, which supply around 28% of market demand. UK Concrete recently set out its approach to the MPA's net-zero by 2050 roadmap, showing how to get to net negative emissions by 2050. 

One area in which the Government could help accelerate economic recovery is planning and permitting. The recent commitment to the "most radical reforms of our planning system since the end of the Second World War," provides an opportunity to refresh, refocus and properly resource this important function, says the MPA.

Surveys by the MPA show that over ten years, land-won aggregates consumption outstrips the new reserves that are permitted with 75% of crushed rock reserves and just 63% of sand and gravel reserves replaced between 2009 and 2018. MPA's recent policy paper sets out key areas where the planning and the permitting system could be reformed to ensure secure, steady and adequate mineral product supply to support a strong economic recovery.

MPA chief executive Nigel Jackson said: "MPA cautiously welcomes the Prime Minister's speech and the determination to invest in infrastructure. Our industry which typically supplies 1 million tonnes per day of mineral products to the construction, manufacturing and other key sectors stands ready to supply the essential materials for the projects announced today. Government ambition is important, but delivery is what really matters. Too often in the past successive Governments have talked a good game on infrastructure but either taken too long or failed to deliver.

"Minimising uncertainty to boost confidence to invest and fuel growth is the top priority after the need to protect people's health. It is time for less talk and more concerted action that protects jobs and investment over the coming months and years as industry transitions from survival to growth."

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