Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Letter from the British Aggregates Association to Mr John Hall, HM Treasury

  Thank you for meeting with Mark Adams and myself, at the DETR last week. We found the meeting most useful.

  I have attempted to establish the level of trade in pre-cast concrete products between Northern Ireland and the UK mainland. It would appear that between 4,000 and 5,000 tonnes of concrete products are shipped out of Northern Ireland on a weekly basis. This does not account for products exported to Eire or used in their local market.

  With the price of pre-cast concrete ranging from £60.00 to over £100.00 per tonne the potential loss to Northern Ireland's economy would be considerable. I met with our NI members, in Belfast, last week and they are in no doubt that this tax would bring about the demise of the greater part of the pre-cast industry. As I have already explained, because secondary aggregates, dust and less popular sizes will have to bear the full rate of tax, mainstream aggregate prices will increase by at least £2.00 per tonne. A medium size concrete plant, using 150,000 tonnes of sand and aggregate per annum would have to find an additional £300,000 in revenue to stand still. Because imported concrete products will not be taxed, unlike imported aggregates, the majority of these plants will undoubtedly be re-located south of the border.

  The NI members are also concerned that they will loose out on asphalt and ready-mix concrete sales to Southern Ireland. At present several companies, located in NI, deliver asphalt and ready-mixed concrete across the border. However because aggregates incorporated in these products will be taxed, even although the finished product is being exported, they will no longer be competitive. They also report that there is very little border control, exerted by the South, and they fully expect a great deal of material to be brought in without paying any tax. I am sure you will agree that this represents a very worrying situation and warrants further investigation.

  The Scottish parliament are also greatly concerned about the effects of this tax, on the Scottish economy, and are to hold a special one day inquiry immediately after the summer recess.

30 June 2000

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