Memorandum submitted by the Department
of Transport, Local Government and the Regions
RESPONSE TO QUESTIONS FROM THE COMMITTEE
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
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 externalitya benefit not reflected in
the price of aggregatesif 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
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