BAA welcomes construction sponsorship change
"THE British Aggregates Association has welcomed the news that sponsorship of the construction industry is being transferred from the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions to the Department of Trade and Industry. The Association had campaigned for such a move for many months, highlighting the problems arising from the failure of the DETR to provide effective sponsorship for the quarrying industry."
"Welcoming the change, BAA director Robert Durward said the Association was also hopeful that the appointment of Patricia Hewitt, formerly the minister for small business, as Secretary of State at the DTI would herald a prompt revision of the aggregates levy. ‘It is becoming increasingly clear that, owing to the added burden of the aggregates tax, many UK quarries will rapidly succumb to foreign competition, with materials being shipped in from countries with no tax and less environmental controls,’ he said."
"‘Although imported aggregates will be charged the £1.60 levy, merchants will only import sizes they can sell and will not have the problem of disposing of less-popular materials. Furthermore, as a result of government efforts to avoid contravening EC laws banning border taxes, imports will not be subject to the aggregates tax on arrival but only when sold to end-users."
"‘Although the aggregates tax was borne out of a stated aim to protect the environment, the opposite will be the case. The UK quarrying industry is the most tightly regulated in the world with the highest standards of health and safety and the best staff welfare, however aggregates will now be shipped in from countries with much less control and lower standards.’"
"The BAA highlighted this problem during a lengthy meeting with the Treasury and the DTI last month, where government officials were forced to admit that they had not realized that import substitution would be such an issue and gave their assurance that they would look into the Association’s figures."