Government urged to act to prevent fresh material cost hikes

Materials chiefs have said construction costs will rise further without an overhaul of the rules governing suppliers.

The Mineral Products Association (MPA) has demanded that the government act on 18 measures to develop the regulatory environment it insists the sector requires.

Its report, Smart Regulation in the Mineral Products Sector, warned that “delay and uncertainty” is creating a “challenging environment for private investment” in material extraction.

For every 100 tonnes of sand and gravel sold during the decade to 2020, the industry only gained permission to extract another 63 tonnes of the material, the study said. With demand soaring, reform is required “to enable mineral reserves to transition back to a long-term sustainable footing”.

MPA director of public affairs Robert McIlveen said: “The government should focus on tackling the real-world uncertainty, delays and costs that deter investment and hold back economic growth.

“The consequences of not reforming would be that we continue to see the sector face unnecessary cost and bureaucratic barriers, potentially raising the cost and complexity of delivering housing and infrastructure, including the investment necessary for net zero.

“In the long term it could deter investment and mean that the UK misses out on economic opportunities. Supply cannot be assumed – it needs to be planned for and managed.”

The report sets out four broad areas of reform: planning and permitting for minerals security; value for money in planning and permitting; holding regulators to account; and clear, innovation-friendly regulation.

It then details a number of steps under each heading, including changes to the planning appeals process, halting “abuse” of section 106 agreements and streamlining mineral companies’ carbon-related reporting obligations.

MPA chief executive Jon Prichard said: “From health and safety to environmental protection, our industry achieves the highest standards and has no desire to change regulations that work.

“What we want is for regulators to be more efficient, practical and reasonable in their application of the rules, and for businesses to be able to have confidence that they will get consistent regulatory decisions in good time, at reasonable cost. The recommendations in our new report will help to deliver that.

“The government’s ambitions for housebuilding, infrastructure and green-energy production all rely on a thriving mineral products sector that absolutely provides the materials that those projects need.”

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