Wednesday, 6 August 2014

#we_stand_for - and other industry news

A range of industry-related stories that have appeared over the last month:

1. So that we all know exactly what to expect if Aggregate Industries quarries Straitgate Farm, Swiss-owners Holcim have launched a #we_stand_for campaign to promote its "values and behaviors". Number one on its list? "Integrity":
Integrity stands for recognizing the right thing to do, admitting mistakes, having the courage to stand firm on compliance, and taking appropriate action. We follow the Holcim Code of Business Conduct and respect local laws in all situations. Integrity stands for Strength. Performance. Passion
2. For those concerned about the possibility of 100 or more HGV movements each day trundling along the B3180 from Straitgate to Blackhill and back, there's now another issue - from early 2015, HGV speed limits will increase on single-carriageway roads - from 40mph to 50mph:
The FTA said the decision supported an improvement in road safety by reducing the 20mph differential between HGVs and other road users, and would allow UK single-carriageway roads to be used more effectively.
Such a move would of course increase the speed differential between HGVs and cyclists/pedestrians.

3. "Closure threat hangs over quarries" shouts the headline in Minerals Planning.
More than 100 pits and quarries could close within the next five years unless new reserves are granted, a leading consultant has warned.
The leading consultant? "BDS Marketing Research Ltd is an independent marketing and market research consultancy specialising in the construction materials and waste sectors... BDS is a member of, and active participant in, the following trade associations - Mineral Products Association and British Aggregates Association". Not quite so independent then.

In any case, a few days later, the Mineral Products Association, when reporting second quarter aggregate sales - with sand and gravel up 4% on 12 months before, claimed "even with 3% growth trends markets would not regain pre-recession levels until after 2020".

Demand is rising in some sectors of the construction industry: Brick shortages 'worst in living memory' and UK concrete shortage threatens major projects. The latter ironically due to the 'dwindling availability of fly ash'.

4. Last month the Mineral Products Association issued a wish list of actions for the Government - here are some of them:
Ensure energy and climate change policies are consistent with the need to sustain a competitive UK mineral products sector, including Energy Intensive Industries (EIIs). Withdraw the carbon price floor. Review and reduce the cumulative cost and volume of environmental legislation. Freeze the Aggregates Levy while there is a comprehensive review of the policy.
Demands that appear inconsistent with any concern for climate change or the environment.

5. Lastly, and closer to home, Minerals Planning reports that DCC "has approved schedule of new conditions for [Aggregate Industries'] quarry near Barnstaple, subject to the operator agreeing to avoid further working in one area of the site and indemnifying the council against compensation claims".