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Working in tandem on sustainability

The MPA proposes new sustainability partnership with government and local communities

The Mineral Products Association (MPA) has proposed to government that a new Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF) should be introduced in England from April 2012. The previous ALSF, through which around £20 million of aggregates levy revenue was used to support a variety of sustainability projects linked to aggregates extraction and supply, ended in March 2011 as part of departmental savings.
 
The MPA recognizes the financial pressures that led to this decision, but believes that there is an outstanding justification for introducing a new scheme with some critical differences from the original scheme, which is affordable and which can generate very significant sustainability benefits.
 
The MPA is proposing a scheme with a reduced value of around £10 million per annum, which will have a greater focus and be more accessible to all local communities in quarrying areas and still allow significant investment in critical areas, such as biodiversity and nature conservation, heritage, carbon reduction, the marine environment and supporting the operation of the Strategic Mineral Planning System.
 
The key change would be that 50% of the new fund, around £5 million per annum, would be available for local community projects. This represents a doubling of the £2.4 million a year of funding available to local communities under the previous scheme.

A further £3 million (30%) would also be channeled into biodiversity and nature conservation projects, which will have a predominantly ‘local’ focus. The MPA believes that this funding should be accessible to all local communities in quarrying areas and has suggested the introduction of Local Aggregates Community Trusts to manage the funding.

These bodies could be set up as required and be based on single communities, groups of communities or district or county boundaries, reflecting local wishes and circumstances based on a national governance and probity model.
 
The fund would enable demonstrably successful initiatives to be supported, such as the Nature after Minerals (NAM) initiative, heritage and archaeology activity, the reduction of carbon emissions in the aggregates sector and in industry markets and the improvement in knowledge and understanding of the marine environment.

The MPA would also like to ensure that there continues to be strategic management of aggregates resources (ie the Managed Aggregate Supply System) and the use of ALSF funding for this purpose would remove this financial burden from government while allowing all stakeholders to contribute to this process.
 
The new fund is affordable because the aggregates levy raises around £300-£350 million a year and government plans to increase the levy rate from £2 to £2.10 per tonne in April 2012, which will raise additional levy revenue of at least £15 million per annum.
 
Nigel Jackson, chief executive of the MPA, said: ‘The original ALSF was successful in many ways, as independent research confirmed. We were greatly disappointed that government chose to end the ALSF in March 2011 and this disappointment was shared by many local communities, conservation organizations and others who had used the ALSF for projects of both local and national importance.

‘The Government’s decision has forced us to consider how the scheme could be improved and re-focused. We believe that our proposal for a new ALSF will, critically, make the funding more accessible to any local community in a quarrying area and still enable very important work on biodiversity, for example, to be supported.

‘The new scheme would be affordable, as it costs less than the planned increase in the aggregates levy next year. It also links very closely to government's objectives of giving greater power to local communities – the co-operative approach between local people, local business, voluntary groups, NGOs and government which is at the heart of the ALSF is the real life embodiment of the Big Society and works with the grain of the ‘Localism’ agenda.
 
‘We have made our initial proposal to Defra and believe that it has been well received and will now be seeking to achieve general government agreement for a new Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund along the lines we have proposed. We would welcome support from others who are keen to see the re-introduction of the ALSF with this renewed local focus.’

 
 

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