Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Loughside Quarries

  As a quarrying company operating in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, we take this opportunity to express our grave concerns the Aggregate Tax would have on the Northern Ireland quarry industry.

  It is obvious that imports of quarry materials from the Republic of Ireland would have a totally devastating effect on the quarries up to 30 miles on the northern side of the border. This would seriously affect the viability of quarries in approximately two thirds of the provence. The remaining area, which due to the distance from the border, mainly County Antrim, would come under severe pressure and competition from quarries outside the area as they try to survive. The outcome of this would be considerable price-cutting and ultimately closures and bankruptcies.

  Implementation of the tax would be about impossible to police in Northern Ireland, many devious schemes are already being considered by unscrupulous operators to avoid much of the tax. This action would be to the detriment of bona fide quarry owners wishing to comply with the law.

  The Fuel Retail Sector in Northern Ireland has already experienced a downturn of approximately 50 per cent since 1994 due to the tax differences between Northern Ireland and the Republic. The same situation would arise in the Quarry Industry, resulting in increases in unemployment, causing a burden on Government, and in addition formerly viable businesses no longer contributing to the Exchequer in profit tax.

  Quarrying has always tended to operate locally, with relatively short haulage distances from the quarry to the site. The tax would cause much more stone etc to be hauled over longer distances from the Republic of Ireland, causing more pollution, and the fuel used in the vehicles would be purchased outside the United Kingdom, the Exchequer deriving no benefit whatsoever.

  Northern Ireland circumstances being totally different to the situation in mainland United Kingdom makes this proposed tax grossly unfair, almost unworkable and counter-productive in producing revenue.

  The difficulties this tax would create compels us to request a serious re-think on the entire proposal.

24 October 2001

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