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Review of infrastructure planning long overdue, says MPA

Aggregates stockpile The Government has asked the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) to identify how the planning system could create greater certainty for infrastructure stakeholders, including the supply chain

Mineral Products Association welcomes news of urgent government review into national planning policy

PRODUCERS of essential materials for infrastructure projects have welcomed news that an urgent review of national planning policy for major projects is to be carried out.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has asked the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) to identify how the planning system could create greater certainty for infrastructure stakeholders – including the supply chain – ahead of an action plan on the UK’s Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs).

In its recent Spring Budget 2023 submission, the Mineral Products Association (MPA) repeated calls for greater focus on planning and delivery of infrastructure projects. That is because MPA members need certainty to invest in sites, equipment and people to ensure an adequate supply of aggregates, concrete, asphalt and other mineral products that make all construction possible.

At the same time, local mineral planning authorities who plan for and control access to the mineral resources in their counties need greater visibility of the construction material demands of infrastructure projects. That would help to ensure the right materials can be provided in the right place and at the right time, in turn allowing the supply chain to deliver solutions that are both cost-effective and sustainable.

To achieve these outcomes, the MPA says a more holistic approach that supports successful infrastructure delivery is required. A key component of this should be the requirement for all major project proposals to be accompanied by resource assessments and supply chain audits as part of the development process.

This is becoming increasingly critical, given the 10-year construction aggregate replenishment rates – consumption versus consent for new minerals – are well below sustainable levels (at 52% for crushed rock and 63% for sand and gravel). With recovery and reuse of recycled materials already very high in the UK, the need for long-term planning to support infrastructure project delivery is vital, says the Association.

MPA executive director Mark Russell said: ‘Accelerating the consenting process for projects covered by national policy statements is all well and good, but unless the planning and consenting regimes for all the supporting and enabling activities required to ensure successful delivery are resolved at the same time, all you end up doing is shifting the point of delay further down the supply chain and increasing costs.

‘It is essential that the planning process for major infrastructure projects builds in visibility of the construction material requirements from the outset. Not only will this ensure that local planning can facilitate access to the essential mineral resources required for delivery, but it will give project developers access to cost-effective and sustainable supply solutions, rather than competing for their availability.’

MPA director of public affairs Robert McIlveen added: ‘Greater focus on infrastructure delivery has been at the top of our policy list for every Budget for many years so we really welcome this review. This is an important opportunity for the NIC to support our members to deliver the materials needed to construct the infrastructure our economy needs and the investment to drive growth.’


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