Mineral products sector says 'Build Back Better' must deliver quicker
The Mineral Products Association has cautiously welcomed the Prime Minister’s speech and his determination to “build back better” but warned that without a real focus on accelerated delivery it could disappoint and undermine confidence to invest.
Mr Johnson’s themes of investing in infrastructure, levelling up and improving our environment are all shared by our industry, as is the ambition to improve UK environmental performance and boost the economy and jobs in all regions.
The industry is playing its part environmentally. MPA recently published updated figures showing Great Britain still top of the European table for recycled and secondary aggregates, which supply around 28% of market demand. UK Concrete recently set out its approach to our net zero by 2050 roadmap, showing how we could get to net negative emissions by 2050.
One area in which the Government could help accelerate economic recovery is planning and permitting, and the recent commitment to the "most radical reforms of our planning system since the end of the Second World War" provides an opportunity to refresh, refocus and properly resource this important function. Surveys by the Mineral Products Association show that over a 10-year period, land-won aggregates consumption outstrips the new reserves that are permitted with 75% of crushed rock reserves and just 63% of sand and gravel reserves replaced between 2009 and 2018. MPA’s recent policy paper sets out key areas where the planning and permitting system could be reformed to ensure secure, steady and adequate mineral product supply to support a strong economic recovery.
Chief Executive Nigel Jackson said: “MPA cautiously welcomes the Prime Minister’s speech and the determination to invest in infrastructure. Our industry which typically supplies 1 million tonnes per day of mineral products to construction, manufacturing and other key sectors stands ready to supply the essential materials for the projects announced today. Government ambition is important but delivery is what really matters. Too often in the past successive Governments have talked a good game on infrastructure but either taken too long or failed to deliver.
“Minimising uncertainty to boost confidence to invest and fuel growth is the top priority after the need to protect people’s health. It is time for less talk and more concerted action that protects jobs and investment over the coming months and years as industry transitions from survival to growth.”