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Call for clear national strategic planning policy

RESPONDING to the Queen’s Speech and publication of the coalition’s ‘Programme for Government’ document, the Mineral Products Association has said it will work positively with government so that the development which is necessary to help ‘restore economic growth’ is not constrained by a lack of minerals products for the construction and manufacturing sectors.

The MPA has stressed that it is critical the Decentralisation and Localism Bill, which will ‘devolve greater powers to local councils and neighbourhoods and give local communities control over housing and planning decisions’, is matched by a clear national strategic policy framework and a commitment that ensures the construction and other industries continue to receive a steady and adequate supply of aggregates and other key minerals.

‘We understand the localism agenda and our industry is used to co-existing with local communities throughout the country, particularly in rural areas where we are a significant employer. There is, however, a danger that this policy direction could be hijacked by those opposed to development in general and encourage nimbyism,’ warned Nigel Jackson, chief executive of the MPA.

‘We have a responsibility to work with local communities constructively and transparently, but government also has a responsibility to ensure that planning decisions are balanced, reasonable and reflect both national and local interests and that there is an appropriate structure to support this.’

The MPA has also called for Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund spending on local communities in quarrying areas to be at least 33% and up to 50% of the total annual fund per annum from 2011/12 onwards, and for measures to be introduced to ensure that this funding is used for its intended purpose – to directly benefit local communities in quarrying areas.

Referring to the coalition’s ‘Programme for Government’ document, which sets out the Conservative-Lib Dem Government’s plans for the next five years, the MPA has welcomed government commitments in a number of areas. In the document, references are made to ‘creating a presumption in favour of sustainable development in the planning system’, to ‘improvements to the energy efficiency of new housing’ and to ‘restoring biodiversity’, all of  which are priorities the industry shares.

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