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Scottish Parliament underlines commitment to quarrying

John Swinney MSP

Cabinet Secretary John Swinney MSP addresses Scottish quarrying industry at Parliamentary Reception

THE Mineral Products Association (MPA), the principal trade association for the quarrying and aggregates industry in Scotland, recently held its inaugural Parliamentary Reception in the Garden Lobby of the Scottish Parliament, where principal speaker John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth, spoke of the invaluable work of the Association and its members.

Association members and their guests were welcomed to the event by Nigel Don MSP. Acting in his role of convenor of the Cross-Party Group for Construction, he spoke of the ‘willingness of the Parliament to encourage open dialogue and engage with the electorate’. ‘We want you all to see the work we do on your behalf and give us the opportunity to talk directly with the industry,’ he said.


Association chairman Alan Mackenzie said: ‘The challenge our industry faces in Scotland is maintaining its current asset base of quarries, asphalt and ready-mixed concrete plants, and, even more critically, its existing highly skilled workforce through the period until the majority of the major roads schemes in the pipeline actually start.’

Calling for a sustained, long-term level of investment in Scotland’s infrastructure, he added that time was now right for a fundamental change in approach to dealing with planning applications for aggregates, and said the Association was seeking support from the highest level in the Scottish Government to help solve these issues.

Principal speaker John Swinney MSP (pictured) referred to Scotland’s Infrastructure Investment Plan, which had allowed the Government to direct funding towards major projects such as the Queensferry Crossing; the Southern General Hospital; M8/M73 Link and others in the near future; the AWPR, the A9, the A96 dualling and the Ayrshire bypasses.

In acknowledging the industry’s challenge in maintaining its locally based assets, Mr Swinney underlined his Government’s commitment to supporting the industry by trying to use all means available to secure the necessary finances.

He explained: ‘The work of the MPA and its member companies is invaluable to the Scottish economy and is essential for supporting economic recovery through capital investment and infrastructure programmes.

‘We want to pull plans off shelves and see real construction activity across the country. Our Non-Profit Distributing programme maximizes this investment bringing immediate benefits to our economy, particularly to the construction sector and its supply chains.’

Mr Swinney also welcomed the MPA’s interactions with the planning system. ‘In terms of planning, we are doing all we can to help boost the industry,’ he said. ‘Our National Planning Framework 3 recognizes that we need construction materials and energy minerals in a diverse energy mix.

‘Our draft Scottish Planning Policy outlines how we will promote the responsible extraction of resources. Policy delivery will secure permitted reserves for construction aggregates for a minimum of 10 years at all times in all market areas.’

Afterwards, John Sheridan, executive director of the MPA in Scotland, gave his reaction to the evening. He said: ‘We are indebted to Mr Swinney for giving us his valuable time to not only share his thoughts, but also mix and chat later with our guests, talking face to face on detailed issues.’

As well as the Scottish Government and its agencies, Mr Sheridan underlined the importance of the presence of senior officials from a wide number of stakeholders, all of whom, he said, had made themselves readily available for conversations with industry.


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