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Green trade-off for quarry tax

THE QUARRYING industry has appealed to Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott to accept a package of voluntary environmental initiatives in place of the proposed aggregates tax.

The Quarry Products Association submitted the package to Prescott last week and made a presentation to the House of Commons All Party Minerals Group on Thursday. It fears that a tax on aggregates could damage the construction industry and would not achieve the Government's aim of reducing the environmental impact of quarrying.

UK construction uses around 220Mt of quarried aggregates a year. Campaigners for the tax, which was announced by the Chancellor in last year's budget, want to encourage more recycling by taxing quarried aggregate by up to 11/t.

QPA director general Simon van der Byl claimed the tax would push up the cost of construction. He added: 'More importantly, nobody is sure what proportion of the tax will go back into improving the industry.'

The voluntary 10 point plan would, he claimed, cost the industry about 50p/t. It includes:

Implementation of an ISO 14001 environmental management system;

Creation of a 20M a year fund to rehabilitate disused quarries.

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