Monday, 29 April 2019

Gosh, another person behind the Straitgate project moves on

Last year AI lost another CEO. At the time we said:
During the time that AI has been trying to get its act together in East Devon – to gain permission to butcher a successful farm and risk water supplies for more than 100 people for the sake of a relatively small amount of sand and gravel that could only be processed off-site 23 miles away – the company has gone through three CEOs, and will now be looking for its fourth. Is this simply an indication of how long the Straitgate Farm fiasco has been staggering on, or an indication of deeper problems?
The previous year, Aggregate Industries' parent LafargeHolcim also lost its CEO – after he was charged over allegations of colluding with terrorists in Syria; charges that were only dropped last month.

But it’s not just CEOs.

Over the many years that all this has been rumbling on, it’s hardly surprising that some of the players behind the Straitgate 'project' have moved on. We’ve posted about some of them before, here and here:
We suggested "he should have a good look at what his company is trying to get away with at Straitgate Farm". Perhaps he did. Today it’s been announced he’s moving to Breedon.
and here and here:
The Regional Director who had been overseeing the Straitgate project ever since we’ve been involved was replaced last year. At the same time, the Estates Manager responsible for Straitgate also moved to pastures new.
The person at the Environment Agency who knew most about Straitgate – who over the years had been concerned that a minimum safeguard of 1m should be left unquarried above the maximum water table – also left in 2017, having been with the agency some 29 years.

But what is perhaps even more noteworthy is that two of the leading protagonists behind the most contentious and complicated part of the application – hydrogeology – have also both now moved on. One went last year – AI’s head geologist – and the other – a Technical Director at consultants Amec Foster Wheeler (now Wood) – left in February. Dr Tim Haines was the name that has appeared at the bottom of AI’s water reports since 2015. He was also the person who defended AI’s scheme at the last public exhibition – the scheme to dig down to the maximum water table, leaving a 0m unquarried safeguard, even though with only 6 maximum data points across some 55 acres he could only guesstimate where that level might be – telling local people what the chance was they would lose their water supply:
He was explaining how there was a chance, a small chance in his view, 1 in 20 if pushed to put a number on it, that people currently relying on springs and wells for their drinking water would suffer subsequent problems with their supply if AI's quarry plans were to go ahead.
How central were both of these people to AI's plans for Straitgate? Look who championed AI’s madcap seasonal working scheme at this meeting with the EA in 2017:
TH explained it was a composite taken using the maximum levels form 2013-14 at each piezometer and using elevations of springs. Because the extremely wet period of 2013-14 was used the maximum level is higher than one that would be derived if more recent groundwater levels were used and therefore can be considered to be conservative.
In 2018, that prediction – "considered to be conservative" – failed in four locations.

Both of these key players at AI and AFW are no longer with their respective companies. Telling, or just coincidence? Whichever, perhaps their replacements will realise what a lunatic proposal this really is.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Extraordinary times

These really are extraordinary times. Not only because we have just seen the biggest civil disobedience event in recent British history, with Extinction Rebellion arrests now passing 1,000, but also because photos of a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist are splashed across this morning’s front pages, after she met with applause in the House of Commons, earlier having told MPs: "You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to", before asking them "Is my microphone on? Can you hear me?" Read her full speech, or watch a short clip of it below:

The messages from the Extinction Rebellion protests and from Greta Thunberg are beginning to resonate with more and more people; here are two who used to work for the Police:
Attending the protests on Monday, was Philip Kedge, a retired chief inspector with Hampshire constabulary. "I have a seed of doubt that’s been growing in terms of what’s been happening to our environment and I decided that I could do two things. I can go sit on Bournemouth beach and enjoy the sunshine with ice cream or I can come here and find out more. My respect to all the service officers here. I’ve seen nothing but the utmost professionalism and respect. And the same goes to the protesters who have treated the police with dignity and respect."
Another former police officer, Richard Ecclestone, who attended the protests separately from Kedge, said he had policed protests against the A30 road in Devon in the 90s, but that Extinction Rebellion felt different. "This is very different because it is not just a bunch of very well meaning and committed activists. This is all of us".
I am really quite terrified of the prospects for our society and civilisation if we don't take action on climate change. The sense of emergency of it is just so important that we need to get a hold of this. We are in the situation where we need to turn this catastrophe that we are sleepwalking into around.
Read about some of the others. As one protester put it:
We are coming into Parliament Square because we have captured the media’s attention and a lot of attention around the globe, and now it’s time for the politicians to come and talk to us.
But as far as one of our politicians is concerned:
Surely this is the time for the protesters to take their pink boat to Tiananmen Square, and lecture them in the way they have been lecturing us.
Five years ago, we posted Climate change – we should all be doing our bit ... We said:
There are many notable projects around the country attempting to bring down our carbon footprint. There’s one in Lyme Regis - a hydro-electric system in the Town Mill. By generating electricity from the River Lim, it hopes to save 13 tonnes CO2 annually.
But benefits from schemes like this are dwarfed by unsustainable proposals from corporations, selfishly focusing on nothing but profit. Whatever happens with Straitgate, the idea of processing material 7.5 miles away must be a non-starter. With climate change, everybody must pull their weight.
Things have changed since then. The scale of our climate emergency, and what needs to be done, has come into sharper focus. What has also changed is that Aggregate Industries now wants to process Straitgate material some 23 miles away, not 7.5. Plainly this is a company that fails to recognise the climate emergency. This is a company that neglected to report around 600,000 tonnes of CO2 in 2016. This is a company owned by LafargeHolcim – named second worst company for increasing CO2 emissions. As we posted:
AI has talked about reducing its CO2 emissions for more than 15 years, and has achieved exactly the reverse. It is plainly in denial: denial about having to do anything to change the way it operates, denial about having to do anything to reduce its contribution to an impending climate catastrophe.
AI is now emitting nearly 1.3 million tonnes of CO2 each year, more than 5x the amount in 1999.

As Greta Thunberg says:
... the basic problem is that basically nothing is being done to halt – or even slow – climate and ecological breakdown, despite all the beautiful words and promises.
Now we probably don’t even have a future any more. Because that future was sold so that a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money.

Some of the other climate-related posts we've made this year and last can be found here:

Resource extraction responsible for half world’s carbon emissions; Concrete: “the most destructive material on Earth”; UK experiences hottest winter day ever; DCC declares ‘climate emergency’ but rejects 2030 target; Schoolchildren across the world call for climate action; DCC declares “climate emergency”; Our future, and our children’s future, in numbers; AI’s digital presence on climate change; We’re killing our planet; There must be two Aggregate Industries; If AI’s record is an example of corporate action on climate change, we’re all screwed; IPCC: “The next few years are probably the most important in our history”; ‘If the cement industry were a country, it would be third largest emitter in the world’; Whilst Europe burns, what’s the UK minerals industry doing about climate change?; The terrible human cost of LafargeHolcim’s operations; ‘Cement companies must double emission cuts to deliver Paris Agreement’; Legacy; “We are committed to tackling climate change”.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

It’s not just Extinction Rebellion & school children, now BoE warns of climate danger

You can sense that the climate emergency is thankfully climbing up the agenda and increasingly into the public consciousness – as it must, if we are to survive as a species.

Not only are the impacts of climate change becoming more apparent for all to see, not only are increasing numbers of ordinary people being compelled to engage in peaceful but illegal activities in an effort to force urgent action, not only – at the time of writing – have more than 400 people been arrested at the Extinction Rebellion protests where the streets of London are being brought to a standstill, not only are school children going on climate strike across the world, not only has our public broadcaster changed its stance – no longer giving deniers equal air time in the face of science, and this very evening putting David Attenborough prime time to warn us of Climate Change - The Facts, not only all that, but now there are warnings from the Bank of England and other central banks too:
"If some companies and industries fail to adjust to this new world, they will fail to exist"
The debate has accelerated over the space of just a few years, and the spotlight will now increasingly be shone on corporate action – or inaction – on climate change; even perhaps on humble aggregate and cement producers – LafargeHolcim, parent of Aggregate Industries, being the biggest one of all.

Sonja Laud, deputy chief investment officer at Legal & General Investment Management:
We are now aware of the urgency, so the shift towards companies is probably the right one, because it seems that politicians for the time being are not willing to take the drastic steps that would be needed to shift towards achieving the Paris Accord climate pledge.
She’s right. Something’s got to change. But how?

Some companies continue to spout nonsense like this:

... whilst continuing to grow their CO2 emissions and plot 2.5 million mile haulage routes across Devon; If AI’s record is an example of corporate action on climate change, we’re all screwed.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

AI’s ROMP application for Hillhead finally approved – extending working to 2037

Having exhausted its last quarry in East Devon in 2016 – Aggregate Industries is now supplying sand and gravel from Hillhead near Uffculme in Mid Devon. It is Hillhead – with 4 million tonnes already with permission, and a further 8 million tonnes next-door allocated as a Preferred Area in the Devon Minerals Plan – that is now home to AI’s processing plant that until last year could be found at Blackhill near Woodbury. It is Hillhead that has the same type of material – from the Budleigh Salterton Pebble Beds – that underlies Straitgate.

Last month, DCC approved a review of mineral planning conditions for Hillhead DCC/3655/2014 – and extended consent for the Houndaller part of the site – the part with the 4 million tonnes – until 2037. Planning consent for Houndaller had expired on 31 December 2018.

Hillhead, as the officer’s report pointed out, has a history of quarrying:
It is understood that [there was] quarrying at Hillhead as early as 1880s and, more recently, a number of mineral planning permissions were granted dating from the 1940s.
You might ask why, therefore, if there is so much material at Hillhead, is there any need for Straitgate? You might ask why, therefore, with the processing plant at Hillhead some 23 miles away from Straitgate, is AI pursuing the site – with all its inherent problems and barely a million tonnes of resource. They’re good questions, for which AI has no cogent answers. Last November, we posted AI’s resurrected plant at Hillhead has enough material nearby to take it beyond 2050. In January, we posted So, Straitgate’s not ‘needed’ until 2021 – says AI – which proves it’s not needed at all, highlighting that:
Aggregate Industries is no longer in any rush to quarry Straitgate Farm – judging by documents lodged last year in support of the company's ROMP application DCC/3655/2014 for Hillhead, an application submitted in 2014 but still not determined. AI’s document says:
Should Straitgate Farm obtain planning permission in 2018, extraction would likely commence in 2021. 2.13
Of course, 2018 has come and gone, and now we’re well into 2019, and AI still shows no sign of submitting the information – substantive information on hydrogeology, traffic, even cattle movements across the Exeter Road – requested by DCC back in 2017. As we pointed out, if AI can do without Straitgate until 2021 – 5 years from when Straitgate was originally planned as a direct replacement for Venn Ottery Quarry – then plainly, as we posted:
the relatively small amount of material from Straitgate – with its inherently high carbon footprint – is clearly not needed at all.
But what calamity would befall AI if Straitgate were not quarried? AI’s ROMP application for Hillhead talks about this. In fact, AI claims that without Straitgate, Hillhead would apparently – forgetting, of course, those 8 million tonnes in the Preferred Area next-door – be restored that much sooner:
In the event that the Straitgate Farm application is refused planning permission, Houndaller material shall continue to be processed at an average rate of 350,000 saleable tpa with extraction ceasing in c.2029. The applicant is willing to accept a condition requiring the restoration of the processing plant site at Hillhead Quarry within two years following the cessation of extraction at Houndaller. 2.16
The gravel rich Straitgate Farm mineral would complement the material currently being extracted at Houndaller 2.14
Wow. It will be DCC’s job to weigh up all those points and arrive at a planning balance.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Local elections

Flyers are dropping through letterboxes for the elections on 2 May.

Here's what Richard Grainger, standing as an Independent candidate for Ottery St Mary Town Council North Ward, had to say about Aggregate Industries' proposals for Straitgate Farm:

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

‘Landmark judgement gives hope to victims of corporate crime everywhere’

The UK Supreme Court has ruled that villagers in Zambia can sue UK-based mining giant Vedanta in a British court – over the alleged pollution of their water sources with toxic material from 2005 onwards:
Martyn Day, senior partner at law firm Leigh Day, which is representing the Zambian villagers, said: "I hope this judgment will send a strong message to other large multinationals that their CSR [Corporate Social Responsibility] policies should not just be seen as a polish for their reputation but as important commitments that they must put into action."

Sunday, 7 April 2019

South West mining investment ‘highest in 40 years’

It's not the first time we've pointed to the quote from Mark Twain:
Men have long been drawn to shiny materials buried in the ground – often throwing caution to the wind, and losing vast fortunes for their backers as a result. Only last year, Australian prospectors Wolf Minerals – first attracted in 2007 to the deposits of tungsten and tin at Hemerdon near Plymouth, deposits discovered in 1867 but largely unworked since 1944ceased trading after losing more than £100 million in three years.

Clearly this episode has not put others off, not even Cornwall Council. Apparently, more money is being spent in the hope of restarting mines across the South West than at any point in the last 40 years.

Canadian mining firm Strongbow is nearly ready to empty flood waters from South Crofty, which has been closed since 1998, but still needs to raise about £100m more on the stock market before it can get as far as mining tin commercially… Cornwall Council is ready to invest £1m of public money to help the mine restart, as long as other investors come forward in sufficient numbers, too.
In east Cornwall, Anglo-Australian company Cornwall Resources has been test drilling for tin and tungsten at Redmoor mine in Kelly Bray, and they say results show that they're sitting on the largest undeveloped tin-tungsten deposit in the world.
An Australian-owned firm is hoping Cornwall will become the first European hub for lithium mining… "There's no production of Lithium in the whole of Europe, so if we can build a mine - which we believe we can - in Cornwall, this would give the UK a strategic advantage over the rest of the EU".

Hertford quarry appeal dismissed

Last year, we posted Hertford Bengeo quarry application rejected again by Hertfordshire County Council. There were considerable concerns about dust from the proposed sand and gravel quarry:
Dr David Adam, an ecologist from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, spoke against the application, telling councillors that particles from the quarry travel far further than its limits and posed a significant health risk.
The applicant appealed. Following a public inquiry, the Planning Inspectorate recommended the appeal be dismissed. Two paragraphs from the Inspector's report on dust:
281. The effects on air quality and health were raised by about 90% of the objectors. Many consider that the scheme would have a detrimental impact on air quality and would pose health issues for local residents, especially for children at Bengeo School and using the playing fields. The proposed quarry site is 350 metres away, opposite the primary school with a large staff supporting more than 500 three to eleven year olds. Dust from the quarry would contain tiny crystal particles. Research based on the monitoring of workers in a quarry digging up the same sand and gravel has found it to contain carcinogens. There is an undoubted risk of exposure to fine particles of silica dust. This is a fact that is acknowledged by numerous bodies and is indeed referenced in the consultation document for the eMLP. Inhalation of silica dust is known (UK HSE) to cause health issues, including lung disease, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.
302. There is no reliable evidence on how much silica dust would pollute the air around the quarry. On average it forms 15% of PM10 dust for a lot of quarries. Details about the size-distribution and composition of the material in the Kesgrave formation would be needed to do so, but is absent. The HIA should be based on relevant observational science not models and regulations. Carcinogenic RCS dust is a hazard, but the HIA relies on dust not being generated, which has not been the experience at other sites. Personnel working at the quarry under HSE regulations would need to wear protective clothing, but such stringent rules would not apply to the general public in the locality. It only takes a very small amount of airborne RCS dust to create a health hazard. Some US states have set stringent silica exposure guidelines, which would be exceeded if the proposed quarry resulted in 1.5 µg/m3 of silica per 10 µg/m3 increase in PM10. The residents of Bengeo should not be exposed to this obvious risk. Site specific observations should have been taken to exclude the risk of exposure to this highly toxic and carcinogenic material. Defra limits do not give a level at which there can be confidence that no health effects would result.
There were a multitude of other concerns too – including on hydrogeology – and last week, no doubt to the relief of the people of Hertford and the nearby primary school, the Secretary of State endorsed the Inspector's decision:
The Secretary of State considers that the impact on landscape and character, and hydrogeology each carry substantial weight against the proposal.
The risk of contaminating groundwater would give rise to an adverse effect of moderate significance, which should given substantial weight because of the implications for the public water supply ... the absence of an appropriate mechanism and planning condition to safeguard the aquifer, ... would pose an unacceptable risk to groundwater pollution.
The Planning Inspectorate's and Secretary of State's reports can be found here.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Resource extraction responsible for half world’s carbon emissions

Children walked out of schools on Friday [15 March] in 2,233 cities and towns in 128 countries, with demonstrations held from Australia to India, the UK and the US, according to the Fridays for the Future website. Further strikes are planned for 12 April.
Last week, the World Meteorological Organization warned that the physical and financial impacts of global warming are accelerating:
According to the report, most of the natural hazards that affected nearly 62 million people in 2018 were associated with extreme weather and climate events.
Some 35 million people were hit by floods.
Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael were just two of 14 "billion dollar disasters" in 2018 in the US.
Super Typhoon Mangkhut affected 2.4 million people in and killed 134, mainly in the Philippines.
More than 1,600 deaths were linked to heat waves and wildfires in Europe, Japan and US.
Kerala in India suffered the heaviest rainfall and worst flooding in nearly a century.
In the face of this, there have been concerted efforts to make ecocide an international crime; making politicians and business leaders criminally liable for the harm they do to others. Currently:
There are no effective safeguards preventing a few powerful people, companies or states from wreaking havoc for the sake of profit or power. Though their actions may lead to the death of millions, they know they can’t be touched. Their impunity, as they engage in potential mass murder, reveals a gaping hole in international law.
Last week, for instance, the research group InfluenceMap reported that the world’s five biggest publicly listed oil and gas companies, led by BP and Shell, are spending nearly $200m a year on lobbying to delay efforts to prevent climate breakdown.
[The crime of ecocide] would force anyone contemplating large-scale vandalism to ask themselves, ‘Will I end up in the Hague for this?'
What has all this got to do with Aggregate Industries and parent company LafargeHolcim? According to a UN study, extractive industries are responsible for half of the world’s carbon emissions – and more than 80% of biodiversity loss:
Resources are being extracted from the planet three times faster than in 1970, even though the population has only doubled in that time, according to the Global Resources Outlook, which was released in Nairobi on Tuesday.
Since 1970, extraction of... minerals (particularly sand and gravel for concrete) have surged nearly fivefold from 9bn to 44bn tonnes
The authors said it was essential to decouple economic growth from material consumption. Without change, they said resource demand would more than double to 190bn tonnes a year, greenhouse gases would rise by 40% and demand for land would increase by 20%.
The authors called for "smarter urban planning to reduce the demand for concrete... a cyclical economy that re-uses more materials [and] a switch of taxation policies away from income and towards carbon and resource extraction."

Smarter urban planning? Not on LafargeHolcim's watch:

And what are AI and LafargeHolcim doing about carbon emissions? We've previously posted on this, most recently in LafargeHolcim named second worst company for increasing CO2 emissions.

What's AI's latest idea? On 1 April, AI announced a major milestone:

Following the Infrastructure Carbon Review in 2013 it was identified that infrastructure is responsible for over 50% of the UK’s carbon emissions therefore PAS 2080 was designed to specifically address the management of carbon in infrastructure.
It looks at the whole life cycle of the carbon used on projects and promotes reduced carbon, reduced cost infrastructure delivery and a culture of challenge in the infrastructure value chain where innovation can be fostered.
The BSI verification scheme supports clients in industry by assessing your delivery of projects to PAS 2080 requirements, your measurement and monitoring of carbon against the delivery of a project, and the management of your supply chain, or your role within it.
It helps you to: *Demonstrate your commitment to carbon reduction in the market place *Measure and monitor carbon reduction *Collaborate on projects across the supply chain *Gain a competitive edge when bidding for tenders
With infrastructure still accounting for over half of the UK’s carbon emissions, creating a more sustainable, built environment requires strong leadership in carbon management, early supplier engagement and a real commitment across the value chain to reducing embodied carbon. We are proud to say Aggregate Industries is PAS 2080-verified and are ready to help the industry meet the carbon challenge.
But if helping the industry meet the carbon challenge still means plotting ridiculous and unsustainable multi-million mile haulage schemes – like the one planned for Straitgate – you question whether PAS 2080 isn't just another fig-leaf, another layer of greenwash to hide behind.

Mining giant Vale warns another tailings dam could collapse at any moment

In January, a mining tailings dam collapsed at Brumadinho in Brazil killing more than 300 people – we posted about it in Mining’s human cost, Mining operator ‘knew collapsed dam was at risk’ and Another mining disaster. Last month, the company responsible warned that another mining waste dam could collapse and hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes:
Brazilian mining giant Vale said Saturday [March 23] that communities in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais have been ordered to evacuate after independent auditors found that one of its dams could collapse at any moment.
On Friday, the company raised the level of risk at a mining waste dam in the city of Barao de Cocais to three, the highest grade. According to Brazil’s mining and energy secretary, level three means that “a rupture is imminent or already happening.”
The news comes nearly two months after another Vale-operated dam in the nearby city of Brumadinho collapsed, unleashing a wave of toxic mud that contaminated rivers and almost certainly killed about 300 people.
The contamination of rivers with mining waste, or tailings, which contain high levels of iron-ore and other metals is of great concern and can last for years or even decades, experts say. Small residues of iron oxide eventually fall at the bottom of the riverbed and are brought up to the surface each time it rains heavily.
Brazilian environmental group SOS Mata Atlantica said Friday it had proof of water contamination in the large Sao Francisco river as a result of the Brumadinho dam collapse. Hundreds of municipalities and larger cities such as Petrolina, 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) from Brumadinho, get drinking water from the Sao Francisco.
SOS Mata Atlantica was among the environmental groups that studied the impact of another dam rupture also in Minas Gerais in 2015. The accident killed 19 people and thousands of fish and left 250,000 people without drinking water. Three years later, experts say the water in the nearby Doce River is still unfit for consumption.

EDIT 7.4.19: Investors overseeing $80 trillion in assets pressure miners over tailings safety:
Ethical investors working on a global standard for tailings dams have written to 683 listed resource companies, including major miners, asking for information to be made public within 45 days about every facility they control.
"It is essential that investors can establish a clear line of sight on which company has which tailings facility and how that facility is being managed. The current disclosures from companies are largely inadequate," Adam Matthews, director of ethics and engagement for the Church of England Pensions Board, said in a statement.

Silverstone latest

We’ve previously posted about Aggregate Industries’ troubles at Silverstone, how the British MotoGP was cancelled last year when the company's track resurfacing work proved unfit for purpose, unable to cope with the English weather.

Now, according to Silverstone, "essential track maintenance" will be undertaken in June. It’s unclear who will be footing the bill, or whether AI’s "racing circuit experts" will be involved again.

Clearly the motorsport public have not yet forgotten the episode.

Aggregates Levy to be reviewed

The government has now launched the review, and has published a discussion paper:
The Aggregates Levy ‘the levy’ is an environmental tax that was introduced in 2002 to reduce the extraction of fresh aggregate (rock, sand and gravel used as bulk fill in construction) and encourage recycling and use of by-products from other industrial processes. It has not been reviewed since its introduction, but following the conclusion of litigation on the legality of the levy in February this year, the government announced a comprehensive review of the levy, and confirmed its commitment to devolving the levy to the Scottish Parliament.
The government will consider all aspects of the Aggregates Levy, considering new and existing evidence on the impact of the levy (including its environmental impact), and the nature of the wider industry.
When considering possible changes to the Aggregates Levy, the government will bear in mind:
* the policy objectives in the light of the latest evidence on the environmental impacts of aggregates extraction, considering also the environmental impacts of other methods of aggregate production and of the extraction of other construction materials
The levy has historically brought in between £240 and £410 million of annual revenue.
What were the objectives of the levy? According to the discussion paper:
The levy was designed with various exemptions to encourage the use of less environmentally damaging sources of aggregate. The extraction of fresh aggregate can cause noise, dust, visual intrusion, loss of amenity and damage to biodiversity. When it was introduced, the objectives of the levy were described as being: to address, by taxation, the environmental costs associated with quarrying operations in line with the government’s statement of intent on environmental taxation at the time; to cut demand for virgin aggregates; and encourage the use of alternative materials where possible.
One of those exemptions was for secondary aggregates derived from china clay and ball clay waste. Hundreds of millions of tonnes of such material scar the Devon and Cornwall landscape.

The Mineral Products Association will have something to say about the Aggregates Levy; according to MPA CEO Nigel Jackson:
"A lot has changed since the Aggregates Levy came in," says Jackson, "the most obvious being the virtually maxed-out nature of recycling. Although we never accepted the link between the levy and recycling, it was more about the landfill tax. That was the real driver. Whatever the absolute causal link, recycling and use of secondary aggregates has increased dramatically from where we were in the late 1990s."
"Overall, the industry has moved forward enormously since then in its CSR [corporate social responsibility], sustainability and general environmental performance. Given that our members pay over 90% of the levy, we will be very actively involved in its review."
Jackson stresses that the mineral products industry is already paying its full whack on environmental taxes. "My challenge to government is, 'Tell me an industry that does not have environmental impacts where the externalities have not been internalised?' We are taxed on extraction, anything we put into a landfill, and we are taxed on our CO₂ output. We are at least triple taxed, but because carbon tax is complexed, we are probably quadruply taxed. We’ve also got the Apprenticeship Levy. You tell me another industry paying that many taxes?"

1000 blog posts – shows just how long the Straitgate pantomime has been running

The last post What part of ‘NO’ do quarry companies not understand? was the 1000th on this blog site – a site that first posted A blog for Straitgate back in 2012.

Little did we know then how long this debacle would go on for. Little did we know then what a pig’s ear Aggregate Industries would make of the whole process. Back then, we said:
We have set [the blog] up with the aim of keeping Straitgate Farm and its threat from quarrying in the public eye.
And in that sense, with readers far and wide, we continue to achieve that.