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£40 million fund of knowledge comes to fruition

A £40 million investment that will help the UK’s quarrying industry hit new levels of sustainability and environmental performance came to fruition this week with the launch of an initiative that brings together an vast abundance of new thinking and ideas.

Within their companion website, the Sustainable Aggregates publications draw together the outcomes from the best of 360 individual research projects into one easily accessible digest.

The range across which progress has already been achieved is huge – from new methodology for monitoring and reducing dust; to minimizing vibration from blasting; maximizing the biodiversity and geodiversity potential of quarries during restoration; and new techniques that are locating and preserving archaeology. Advances have been made not just on land, but also in the marine aggregate environment.


‘The quality of information and progress set out in the reports and website is very impressive,’ commented Simon van der Byl, director general of the Quarry Products Association. ‘It provides a valuable resource for industry and those associated with the industry and fund. This work will help to further improve our industry’s environmental footprint and also highlights the ability of the industry and stakeholders to generate social benefits which go beyond the use of our products.’

The launch, which took place at Wellington Arch in London on Wednesday, marked the culmination of six years of intense work funded from the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF) and managed by organizations such as English Heritage, the Mineral Industry Research Organization (MIRO) and CLG (Communities and Local Government).

For the benchmarking exercise, a team of experts has reviewed the outcomes from ALSF projects and from other recent work, under four key themes:

  • Reducing the environmental effect: this concentrates on the water environment; dust, noise and vibration; and transport.
  • Sustainable provision of aggregates: this focuses on assessment and planning; optimizing production efficiency; and sustainable use of by-products.
  • Creating environmental improvements: this looks at biodiversity; geodiversity; and restoration.
  • Heritage: this is devoted to the development of a pool of knowledge; managing impacts on the historic environment; and communicating heritage to the public via outreach projects.

Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said: ‘Sustainability is a vital issue for our irreplaceable natural and historic environment, as it is for the aggregates industry, and we are very pleased to have been involved in such a huge initiativ

Peter Huxtable of the British Aggregates Association said: ‘Not everyone would appreciate that sustainability and quarrying really can go hand in hand. But these reports show the steps which can be taken in order to mitigate the environmental footprint of quarrying and maximize the benefits the industry can provide to the community.

‘Aggregates are essential in contributing to the economic and social well-being of the UK. With this work we have put a series of key topics into context for the industry. We believe that by helping to make this work more accessible and raising awareness

The review has been undertaken as a joint project by MIRO and English Heritage, funded by Defra.



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