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


Memorandum submitted by The Green Party

  The aims of this tax are presumably to reduce the environmental impacts of quarrying, by:

    (1)  promoting building methods which use less stone and sand;

    (2)  increasing the use of recycled aggregates; and

    (3)  ensuring that remedial works are carried out after quarrying.

  If there is difficulty in introducing the tax due to untaxed imports of aggregates and concrete products, and if the Republic of Ireland cannot be persuaded to introduce their own tax I would recommend a different approach which is likely to achieve these aims better.

  1.  Add an extra fee/deposit to the existing building control or planning fee system. This would bring consideration of aggregate content firmly within the control of building designers, and make the client aware of the issue at a time when something can still be done to reduce environmental impacts. This fee should be based on the building type and floor area, previously available information which is enough to estimate the aggregate content at this stage. A reduced fee level should be payable for timber frame buildings or other categories of buildings with lower than usual aggregate content. When the building is finished it should be easy to re-adjust the estimate for the actual concrete etc included if appropriate. A high threshold for refunds should be set to reduce the number of applications and administrative costs. For small buildings it should not be worth the applicant re-applying, and for big buildings there is generally a bill of quantities to enable the aggregate content to be totalled easily. Having the local authority fulfil this role would dovetail with their interests in building standards and waste disposal.

  2.  Insist that large public sector clients use building methods with a low virgin aggregate content. Eg use of recycled bricks, hollow blocks from re-ground concrete, easy to heat timber and steel framed buildings. Such clients should also use only licensed recyclers for the removal of waste from site. Some Research and Development should be funded for this.

  3.  Require quarry operators to deposit a bond, and DoE to police remediation after quarrying.

24 October 2001

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