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Environmental Audit Committee  Biodiversity & Ecosystems

https://committees.parliament.uk/call-for-evidence/200/biodiversity-and-ecosystems/

 

Statement by the Mineral Products Association, August 2020

 

The Mineral Products Association

The Mineral Products Association (MPA) is the trade association for the aggregates, asphalt, cement, concrete, dimension stone, lime, mortar and silica sand industries. It has a growing membership of 520 companies and is the sectoral voice for mineral products. MPA membership is made up of the vast majority of independent SME quarrying companies throughout the UK, as well as the 9 major international and global companies. It covers 100% of UK cement and lime production, 90% of GB aggregates production, 95% of asphalt and over 70% of ready-mixed concrete and precast concrete production. In 2016, the industry supplied £18 billion worth of materials and services to the Economy. It is also the largest supplier to the construction industry, which had annual output valued at £169 billion in 2018. Industry production represents the largest materials flow in the UK economy

 

Introduction to Minerals

Minerals and mineral products are essential to our economy and quality of life.  The 390 million tonnes of minerals and mineral products produced in the UK each year[1] comprise the biggest material flow in the economy.  Mineral extraction is a temporary land use which can temporarily affect biodiversity negatively through habitat loss and disruption, but also positively over the long term through creation and management of habitats which can be better than before development – so resulting in a net positive impact and a net gain in biodiversity.

 

The UK’s diverse geology provides us with high-quality materials and supports a wide range of habitats and species. Maintaining a secure and adequate supply of materials, while reducing environmental impact and maximising environmental benefits is central to delivering sustainable development. 

 

MPA Members’ Contribution to Biodiversity

The mineral products industry has a proven legacy of high quality restoration and has further significant potential to protect and enhance biodiversity, including common as well as rare and threatened species and habitats.  A selection of members’ sites that have been restored to nature conservation and which have access for the public to enjoy them are included in our National Nature Park[2].

 

Continuing good site management, restoration and after-use of minerals sites will contribute significantly to the achievement of nature recovery in the UK, particularly for more, bigger, better and more joined-up habitats.

 

The extraction of minerals, particularly by surface methods, inevitably results in changes to the characteristics of the land where it takes place. These changes are often temporary, and careful site management, restoration and after-use has already created a legacy of rich biodiversity, and further potential remains. 

 

Management and restoration of minerals sites make a substantial contribution to establishment and expansion of most UK priority habitats[3], which in turn deliver multiple natural capital and ecosystem service benefits, particularly carbon sequestration, water storage and flood management, and recreation.

 

Improvement of wildlife habitats has long been a priority for the industry through land management and quarry restoration informed by consultation and partnerships with communities, regulators and wildlife charities (notably RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Bat Conservation Trust, and Freshwater Habitats Trust).  We were one of the first organisations to produce a sectoral biodiversity strategy[4].  The biannual MPA Quarries and Nature Awards[5] celebrate the achievements of our members in quarry restoration and enhancement of biodiversity.

 

Substantial areas of broadleaved woodland, grassland, heathland, and wetland habitats have been created by the industry to date, with much more already in the pipeline. 

Our monitoring indicates that to date that at least 8,000 hectares of UK priority habitat has been created on members’ sites, with at least a further 11,000 hectares committed to in approved restoration plans (see figures 1 & 2 below).

 

In most cases, our restoration of sites results in more and better habitats than before development – a ‘net gain’ in biodiversity – although in the past this hasn’t been systematically measured.  As set out in the MPA Charter[6], the industry will continue to deliver net gain in biodiversity, principally through management and restoration of extraction sites, guided by Biodiversity Management Plans for all sites.  We will encourage landscape-scale approaches go beyond site-based measures, and can deliver more extensive and diverse ecological networks which are more resilient, particularly where these connect to the dynamics of surrounding landscapes and features – an ‘up-wilding’ approach.

 

Keeping track of performance and the contribution mineral products industries are making to biodiversity is crucial. We will measure the industry’s contribution to biodiversity, especially the amount of net gain and nature recovery delivered and planned.

 

Issues for consideration by the EAC Inquiry

 

 

Figure 1.  Summary of UK Priority Habitats created to date on MPA Member sites

 

 

Figure 1.      

 

Figure 2 Summary of UK Priority Habitats included in approved restoration & management plans on MPA Members’ sites


[1] MPA (2018) Profile of the UK Mineral Products Industry https://mineralproducts.org/documents/Facts-at-a-Glance-2018.pdf

[2] https://mineralproducts.org/nature_map.php

[3] Joint Nature Conservation Committee https://jncc.gov.uk/our-work/uk-bap-priority-habitats/#list-of-uk-bap-priority-habitats

[4] https://mineralproducts.org/sustainability/pdfs/MPA_Biodiversity_Strategy.pdf

[5] https://mineralproducts.org/quarries_and_nature_zone.htm#biodiversity

[6] Mineral Products Association (2020) Charter and Members’ Handbook 2020