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


Memorandum submitted by the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions


1.  What was the formal remit given to London Economics in commencing the study?

  The project specifications for Phase 1 and Phase 2 are attached.

2.  How did the Steering Group exercise its duty of oversight throughout Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the study?

  The role of steering group was to provide advice to the Department on the management and direction of the research to improve the quality of the results. During Phase 1 the steering group was particularly helpful in identifying the impacts of quarrying, and in Phase 2 it helped in choosing representative sites. An independent review of Phase 1 accepted the use of contingent valuation techniques to measure the externalities at sites, but also that this methodology should be refined in Phase 2. Therefore Phase 2 was assisted by an international group of experts advising on contingent valuation techniques.

3.  Why were both phases of the study carried out over a very limited period of time?

  The work was done relatively quickly so that the results would be available in time to inform the Chancellor's decisions relating to the possibility of an aggregates levy. Even so, the time available was sufficient for the aims and objectives of the research to be met.

4.  What were the "logistical reasons" which led to the exclusion of Northern Ireland sites and households from both phases of the study? (The Environmental Costs and Benefits of the Supply of Aggregates, Phase 2, p 10)

  The aim was to choose representative sites in terms of rock type, output and population density in order to provide a sound statistical basis for generalisation of the results. While the expert group advised that the researchers should seek to ensure a reasonably broad geographical spread of sites, they were content that areas not specifically studied, such as Northern Ireland, were suitably represented in terms of the above criteria.

5.  What consideration was given to the possible benefits of aggregates extraction as set out in the title of both projects?

  It was identified in Phase 1 that the principal potential environmental benefits of aggregates extraction lie in the restoration of former quarries. Restoration could only be considered an externality—a benefit not reflected in the price of aggregates—if the value of the site was better after restoration than before operations began. Even with industry co-operation in the Stage 1 steering committee, it was not possible to identify any such sites in the time available. Most quarries are restored, in accordance with planning conditions, to a level in keeping with the surrounding landscape rather than an enhanced condition.

  A central aim of the survey method was to assess the value that respondents placed on the environmental impacts of quarries. This value therefore reflected the balance of perceived environmental benefits and costs of the quarry remaining open for its permitted lifespan. In other words, the benefits were internalised in the resulting values.

13 November 2001

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 11 December 2001