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QPA calls for 'constructive partnership' with Government

THE Quarry Products Association says the Prime Minister's vision of 'environmental partnership' must lead to a better environmental solution than the current aggregates tax proposals.

Responding to the Prime Minister's address to a joint CBI/Green Alliance conference in October, in which Mr Blair called for a constructive partnership between government, business, the green lobby and the public to protect the environment, Simon van der Byl, director general of the QPA, said: 'The opportunity remains for the Treasury and DETR to respond positively to the Prime Minister's vision of effective environmental partnerships. Our members have been absolutely clear in their desire to achieve an environmentally progressive partnership instead of the existing damaging aggregates tax proposal.'

However, later commenting on Chancellor Gordon Brown's subsequent Pre-Budget Report in November, Mr van der Byl said there was 'little evidence' of the vision set out by the Prime Minister just two weeks earlier.

'Ultimately, the Government's commitment to partnerships will be judged by action not words. In particular, whether the DETR and Treasury are prepared to support the Prime Minister's vision, or choose instead to force through the current aggregates tax proposal,' he said.

Although the QPA has consistently opposed the tax on principle, it has accepted that if there is no realistic way of stopping it, further attempts should be made to ameliorate its effects. In particular, the QPA is unhappy with the differences in approach between the handling of the aggregates tax question and that of pesticides and the climate change levy.

'Our members feel that they have been given a raw deal. The Government is still in discussions with the pesticides lobby who have not been overtly threatened with the prospect of a tax, and we are all now familiar with the 80% concession granted on the climate change levy.

'The QPA would simply ask that its case be treated on a par with these other environmental issues,' said Mr van der Byl.

Treasury Minister Stephen Timms MP has agreed to meet the QPA within the next few weeks to discuss this point.


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