HC Deb 23 May 1991 vol 191 cc546-7W
Mr. David Howell

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will now issue new guidance to county councils governing gravel extraction.

Sir George Young

The Government have recently announced their intention to prepare new guidance on the provision for aggregates in England and Wales to replace the current advice in MPG6. The publication of the new long-term forecasts of demand for aggregates on 7 May was the first step in this exercise. The Government will be considering any views which may be expressed about these forecasts, and have also asked the regional aggregates working parties for their views on how medium and long-term demand might be met. Draft guidance will be prepared in the light of these views and will be issued for public consultation in the usual way. It would be premature to issue any revised guidance until there has been a full and open debate about the guidance.

Mr. David Howell

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the Government's current initiatives and projects in response to the concern about the environmental consequences of meeting the national demand for aggregates.

Sir George Young

My Department has a comprehensive programme of research which is examining a variety of matters associated with the environmental consequences of the national demand for aggregates. The main initiatives and projects are as follows:

  1. A. Current Studies
    1. (i) study into the use of secondary and waste materials —including recycling—report due July 1991;
    2. (ii) study into potential supplies of aggregates from coastal superquarries to supply the South-East—final report due August 1992;
    3. (iii) study into potential supplies from marine sand and gravel off the Humber coast—interim report due September 1991;
    4. (iv) study into the specifications of aggregates used in the construction industry—final report due July 1991;
    5. (v) study into the overall environmental effects of surface mineral workings—report due July 1991;
    6. (vi) study into the effectiveness of restoration conditions for minerals workings and the need for bonds—final report due;
    7. (vii) study into amenity reclamation of mineral workings—final report due July 1991;
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    9. (viii) study into agricultural reclamation of mineral workings—report due July 1991;
    10. (ix) study into limestone landform replication—final report due March 1993.
  2. B. Work about to begin includes:
    1. (i) a pilot study to begin in July to put into effect the recommendations made in the Groundwork report published in April on the environmental performance of the minerals industry;
    2. (ii) a study on the environmental effects and control of dust from surface mineral workings;
    3. (iii) a study on the environmental effects of traffic associated with surface mineral workings;
    4. (iv) a study to identify the extent and quality of sand and gravel resources in England and Wales.

In addition to this, my Department will shortly be issuing draft guidance for public consultation on the control of noise at minerals sites which follows on from research completed in 1990.