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Quarry tax will cost Wales £40 million

THE new quarry tax announced in the Government's March 2000 Budget will cost Wales £40 million annually and will threaten the jobs of 3,120 people employed in the Welsh quarrying industry.

This was the message from John Hopkins of Hanson Aggregates, chairman of the QPA's Welsh region, who called on the National Assembly of Wales to help find a better way than the tax.

Speaking at the industry's annual lunch in Cardiff, Mr Hopkins said: 'The tax is supposed to be an environmental tax - in other words it is supposed to bring environmental benefits. However, neither the DETR, nor the Treasury have been able to specify how the environmental benefits of the tax will occur.

'We have a tax proposal which will tax only aggregates for construction use - apparently no other form of extraction is an environmental problem. It will include no incentive to improve environmental performance, and no differentiation between good and bad environmental performance.

'We appreciate that this has been a Westminster decision, but the issue is of huge significance to Wales, not just in environmental terms. The tax will cost quarry operators in Wales over œ40 million annually, and this cost will ultimately be borne by construction clients.'

To put œ40 million of extra costs into perspective, Mr Hopkins said it was equivalent to the total spending on new social housing in Wales last year. The tax would add costs to the construction and improvement of every home, hospital, school, road, railway and water project in Wales, he warned.

Referring to the Prime Minister's major speech on the environment in October, which called for partnership between the industry, environmental interests and government as the way forward, Mr Hopkins called on the DETR, the Treasury and the National Assembly to seriously consider a more effective way forward than the current proposals.

'We want to develop effective and positive environmental partnerships - the aggregates tax is a step backwards, not a step forwards,' he said.


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