Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Letter from the British Aggregates Association to Mr Nick Raynsford, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

  Our members are greatly concerned about the damage this tax will, undoubtedly, cause to our industry. They do not think that the government is aware of the problems they will face and many of them wish to write and explain their position. Can you confirm if it is the DETR, or the Department of Trade and Industry that they should, in fact, address these concerns to?

  Are you aware of the severe anomalies which have already become apparent?

  1.  The average aggregate price in London and the Home Counties is around £10.00 per tonne and tax will represent a 16 per cent increase. However the vast majority of aggregate is produced in poorer rural areas where the average sale price is £4.00 per tonne, or less, and here the tax will represent a massive 40 per cent increase!

  2.  Every quarry has by-products and less popular sizes which have to be sold cheaply to create space in the working area, this has always been the case. However, these products will not have to compete with other, low value, materials which will be exempt from tax, such as slag, colliery spoil and recyclings. This will have the effect of strangling our sites within a short period of time.

  3.  Jobs in the concrete industry will effectively be exported to France and Southern Ireland. These countries already export concrete products to the UK and have no plans of an aggregate tax.

  4.  Quarry companies in Northern Ireland will suffer immense damage because of the "open" border with Southern Ireland.

  I sincerely hope that the government will take another look at this issue, hopefully in a more competent and even handed manner, before yet another of our core industries is damaged beyond repair.

7 April 2000

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