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SEERA proposal unacceptable, says MPA

THE Mineral Products Association (MPA) believes that the recently published Evidence in Public (EiP) Panel Report on proposed amendments to Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) planning policy for the supply of aggregates in the South East contains some vital messages for both government and planning authorities.

New guidelines for aggregates provision in England, which were published in July 2009, required that mineral planning authorities in the region should make provision for an average of 12 million tonnes of sand and gravel to be supplied each year during the period up to 2020. In response, the South East Regional Assembly (SEERA) proposed to provide only 9 million tonnes per annum.

The recently published Panel Report has rejected the SEERA amendment and proposed a figure of 11 million tonnes per annum, reduced slightly from the original to take account of the current economic situation. However, in making that recommendation, the Panel acknowledged that it had not taken into account the effect its proposal might have on other regions or upon the ability of the aggregates industry to respond to the economic recovery.

Although the Panel rejected SEERA’s proposal, the final decision now rests with the Secretary of State.

Commenting on the situation, Nigel Jackson, chief executive of MPA, said: ‘SEERA decided to ignore both government policy and the advice of their technical advisors, the SE Regional Aggregates Working Party (SERAWP). They are trying to usurp the Managed Aggregate Supply System (MASS) which has operated well for 35 years and ensured that the construction industry has received a steady and adequate supply of essential aggregates.

‘SEERA want to force a cutback in the amount of sand and gravel supplied from within the South East and push the responsibility on to other regions.’

Mr Jackson said this failed attempt had, nonetheless, unnecessarily triggered reviews in other regions, placing the integrity of the MASS in question. And he warned that this, coupled with the dire situation relating to the lack of sound Local Development Frameworks, meant that future land allocations for extraction would be squeezed and slow to emerge, thus risking future steady and adequate supply.

‘It is simply not acceptable for any region to take such a parochial approach when mineral resources are available and potentially accessible,’ he said.

‘The construction industry, which relies upon aggregate supplies, will be a key driver of economic recovery. We therefore urge the Secretary of State to take the caveats in the Panel recommendation, relating to the impact on other regions and the economic recovery, fully into account before he makes his final decision on the RSS Policy.’


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