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Ruth George MP: It is important constituents see the benefit of the quarrying industry

Mineral Products Association

5 min read Partner content

Ruth George MP joined industry leaders at the Mineral Products Association’s 2019 Quarries and Nature event, which focused on how the mineral industry is uniquely placed to support the Government’s new environmental pledges.


“It is really important for residents, my constituents, to see the benefit of the quarrying industry,” emphasised Ruth George MP, speaking at the Mineral Product Association’s (MPA) Quarries and Nature event in London.

Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Quarrying, the Labour MP was joined by industry leaders to celebrate work on biodiversity in the quarrying industry. 

The MP for High Peak said it was vital to make sure that quarries are “not just seen as a scar on the landscape,” due to the value they add to communities.

Uniquely placed: Net-gain and net-zero

The mineral products industry will play an important role in the transition to a net- zero carbon emissions by 2050 and the circular economy – and it has a long and proud legacy when it comes to environmental action.

“We are determined to contribute to achieving net-zero whilst also creating net-gain,” Nigel Jackson, Chief Executive of the MPA, stated, in an impassioned speech.

Net-gain is an approach to development that aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than beforehand. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs recently held a consultation into net-gain, where it highlighted that proper stewardship of our natural world is “at the heart of responsible government”.

MPA’s Quarry Restoration Awards have been running for 49 years, showcasing hundreds of restored quarry sites all over the UK. In the first 10 years of MPA’s life its members have planted 1.5 million trees.

Ruth George has 12 quarries in her constituency of High Peak in Derbyshire, the highest of any MP.

“Today’s event has been brilliant for showcasing the best of where the industry can work with the environmental sector and deliver fantastic and positive benefits for all communities, our landscapes and biodiversity,” she stated.

Mr Jackson said he hoped the industry would continue to “confront our responsibilities.”

“That is why we have not been wasting the last 30 years doing nothing,” he added.

“We have focused on delivering action rather than just adding to too much hot air.”

On The Path To Net Zero by 2050, Nigel Jackson said “determination and transparency will underpin our approach.”

The new Government legislation will also create legally-binding environmental improvement targets, something the MPA – as the trade association for the industry - is keenly aware of.

“We might be seeing the emergence of a new market. Our industry has assets other industry’s will need, if the emerging Environment Bill does seriously take net-gain fully into account,” Mr Jackson stated.

“You can see a market emerging there.”

Housing and planning

The Government has an ambitious target for building 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.The much-anticipated Environment Bill, announced last week, included measures to ensure new houses are delivered in a way which protects and enhances nature.

Ruth George MP had harsh words for the Government on their planning for this pledge: “The industry is planning better than the Government.”

“Government never often has to really think about [mineral products], they just expect them to end up landing on the doorstep of wherever needs building."

“A lot of it comes down to the planning side – all parties have got big visions for infrastructure.

“We need to look at the need for aggregate and for the need for the quarrying industry to be supported at the Government level and the planning level.”

On the how to ensure the mineral supply chain was effective, the MP said “It’s not just about the quantity of aggregate, it is also about transportation.”

The MP called for increased investment in rail freight and electrification of rail lines.

Nigel Jackson also cautioned that in order to hit these new housing and environmental targets “regulation alone will not be enough” as “incentives to accelerate technological progress will be needed.”

The value of the industry

George’s constituency includes the Peak District National Park – which became the first ever national park in the UK in 1951.

Reflecting on the value quarries brought, Ruth George said “We can have not just a beautiful national park but a thriving local economy as well.”

She stated that constituents sometimes didn’t realise that local jobs were related to the quarrying industry, and said these roles “can feed in with the quarries to all the great environmental and ecological work that we do across the national park.”

This year the MPA are launching a new Good Neighbour Scheme in recognition of the need to build more trust with local communities.

Nigel Jackson also emphasised the contribution of quarrying to the Treasury: “Unlike some other industries who have a far greater impact on the environment and many who fuel imports exporting their impacts we pay over £1Bn per annum in environmental taxes.”

To the delight of the audience, Nigel Jackson concluded his speech with a rallying cry for the industry.

“I hope that the stories, case studies and evidence you will see today will help convince you that this long term industry has not only built a rich legacy of biodiversity assets over the last 50 years but is itself adapting and preparing for the next 25 years, the next generation, with vigour and resolve.” 

 

MPA Quarries & Nature 2019 Opening Film

 

 

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