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MPA calls for enhanced planning system amid aggregate supply fears

World Cement,

The UK’s Mineral Products Association (MPA) has urged the Government to improve its planning system amid fears about future aggregate supply levels. The MPA’s call for action follows the conclusions found in its Annual Mineral Planning Survey (AMPS) 2010, which covers land-based primary aggregate activities in England and Wales. The AMPS found that the system was not freeing up enough land for extraction, a problem that could limit material availability at a time when construction activity is needed to boost economic growth in the UK.

Some key findings from the AMPS include the following:

  • Just 9 planning applications for new extraction were submitted by MPA members in 2010, whereas 40 were submitted in 1996.
  • Average replenishment rates of aggregate reserves are declining. Approximately 67% of hard rock reserves and less than 50% of sand and gravel reserves were replenished in 2000 – 2010.
  • Since 1996, there has been no significant improvement in the amount of time it takes to receive planning permission.

The survey also found that at the close of August 2012, under half of the mineral planning authorities in England had adopted a Core Strategy, whilst 20% of authorities in England and Wales had set up local development plans. A new National Planning Policy Framework is to be implemented next year. The MPA hopes that information provided by the AMPS will spark constructive discussion into aggregates supply in the UK.

“With too few plans, low landbanks, diminishing replenishment rates, increasing costs, and planning inertia fuelling uncertainty we are storing up supply problems for the recovery. Lack of demand is masking underlying supply problems for the future,” said MPA Chief Executive Nigel Jackson, adding, “Government needs to get a grip on the realities rather than assuming things will improve. The Department for Communities and Local Government and the Planning Inspectorate need to step up their monitoring and put pressure on local authorities to ensure that the plan making system is more streamlined and responsive.” 

Adapted from press release by Louise Fordham.

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