Planning and Legislation
BAA is engaged with MHCLG (Housing, Communities and Local Government), the Scottish Government and the Welsh Assembly over plans to update and improve the planning process. The process is much too cumbersome, time-consuming and expensive, especially for SME companies. The proposed Planning Reform consultation (October 2020) was entirely focussed on housing supply – and construction and the link back to essential minerals supply unmentioned. BAA response to the consultation is here. We continue to press for reform for minerals ahead of the proposed Planning Bill schduled for 2022.
We successfuly lobbyed for long-term funding for the Managed Aggregates Supply System (MASS) and Aggregate Working Partiies (AWP) – and a 4-year contract for continuation was effective 1st April 2021. We are still awaiting restoration of the national ONS AMRI (Annual Mineral Raised Inquiry) statistics, the National Coordinating Group (NCG), and an updated aggregates provision allocation.
Furthermore, barriers are increasingly being placed both in accessing minerals and on our ability to provide society’s essential construction materials by the ongoing growth in National Parks and AONB classifications.
We are also raising concerns over the role of the Environment Agency in England and Wales in areas where local planners should have control – and where duplication is evident. An early reappraisal of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) is sought and a review of the impact of the EU Habitats Directive specifically for some protected species (eg great crested newts).
The bill is proceeding through parliament and is expected to erceive royal assent Autumn 2021. It has introduced a new regulator – Office of Environmental Protection, and there will be statutory limits on air pollution, and a mandatory 10% Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) for all develpments.
The industry has repeatedly stated to DEFRA and Natural England that the proposed metrics as a one-size-fits-all is inappropriate and minerals should either have its own metric or be excluded. The industry has an enviable and universally acknowledged 50-year record of demonstrating high level of restoration, biodiversity aplenty – and provided nearly 40% of England’s SSSIs. (Sites of Special Scientific Interest).
The Bill also seeks to extend protected areas through Local Nature Strategies – and Natural England have already proposed that the Cotswold Water Park (CWP) becomes one huge SSSI – and are considering other areas as outlined here and here. BAA response to the CWP proposals are available here.
Minerals Extraction and Archaeology
Archaeological pre-determinations are an increasing cost and burden to BAA SME members, and has resulted in some mineral sterilisation. The 2008 multi-stakeholder Practice Guide was being revised by a multi-stakeholder group (MHEF) and Industry was seeking more prescriptive wording on pre-determination trenching. BAA undertook a member survey in mid-2019 and the results confirmed industry concerns. However, Historic England unilaterally issued a Mineral Extraction & Archaology guide (HEAN 13) in January 2020. They have in early 2021 looked to get developers from all areas not just minerals to provide case studies on pre-determination trenching.
We will continue to seek through MHEF the inclusion of more robust and prescriptive wording on pre-determinations – and with wider stakeholder support. and agreement
The BAA introduced an independent third-party audited safe site certification scheme in 2008 to ensure that workers are competent and legal requirements have been met by the operator. The scheme has been welcomed, highly praised; and endorsed by the HSE. It was awarded the Target Zero logo in recognition of its ability to reduce accidents in the workplace.
Since its introduction in 2002, the BAA stood alone in sustaining a legal challenge against the Aggregates Levy in the UK and EU courts. It has kept its members fully briefed and offered assistance in minimising their levy payments most particularly on moisture rebates and exemption areas.
In February 2019, BAA Executive reached a settlement with HM Government and a full comprehensive review of the levy was announced in the Chancellor’s Spring Statement on 17 March. BAA was a principal participant in the expert working group which met 4 times from April through October. Minutes available here. There have been some minor consultations and changes but the levy remains unchanged albeit frozen, and BAA continues to seek abolition – not least for any added complications from devolution of the levy to Scotland.
Up to 70% of the levy is paid out of the public purse!!
The government signalled an end to the exemption of quarries from using red diesel from April 2022 – whilst retaining for other rural industry like farming and woodlands. This is seen by the industry as a straight tax grab as there will be NO environmental gain – and currenty no viable alternatives! We continue to lobby Treasury to retain the exemption to the industry not least that many SME operators are farmers and quarriers and share storage and some equipment!
This is another area of concern to BAA SME members and several potential sites have been sterilised as a result of authorities not differentating between genuine AWS (Ancient Woodlands) – and PAWS (Plantations on Ancient Woodlands) which are mainly recent coniferous woods. We have had contact for some years with both MHCLG and Woodlands Trust to look for a more realistic approach – but so far with little result.
BAA as members of the CBI MInerals Group made input and participated in the preparation and the launch of this publication in July 2018. Minerals represent 16% of the value of the UK economy.