Anger over rise in planning application fees
THE Quarry Products Association has condemned the Government’s recently announced 203% rise in the maximum planning application fee, to which most large mineral working proposals will be subject.
Just two weeks after the consultation on the proposed fees closed, ODPM minister Keith Hill MP introduced draft regulations into the House of Commons with the intention that they should come into force on 1 April.
The QPA has strongly opposed the rises, which, it says, will cost the aggregates industry £1.8 million a year for a service already paid for through the system of business rates.
The Association’s planning director, Duncan Pollock, said: ‘For the Government to announce this huge increase in fees only two weeks after the end of the consultation suggests the consultation was a bogus exercise with a predetermined outcome. This is yet another stealth tax to be imposed on the aggregates industry and its customers, 40% of whom are in the public sector.
‘It is so frustrating to know that however well-researched a response to an ODPM consultation is, no matter what positive suggestions are made, all such submissions are ignored in favour of the Government’s pre-set agenda and within two weeks of the close of their deadline. This brings the whole process of planning consultation into disrepute.’
The British Aggregates Association also condemned the increases, describing them as neither fair nor reasonable. BAA secretary Peter Huxtable said they would be particularly onerous for SME companies, especially at a time when business returns were being squeezed.
‘We have already had additional impositions on the quarry industry including above-average increases in rates and business taxes, but most specifically the aggregates levy, which was specifically intended to cover perceived environmental externalities. In this respect, the [quarrying] industry should be considered a special case to be excluded from these provisions,’ he said.