Towards an environmental tax on aggregates

A study of the environmental costs of aggregates production has been published by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) as part of the Government's deliberations on an aggregates tax.1 The "externalities" assessed in the study were valued at an average of £4.77 per tonne for primary aggregates. Producers are disputing the make-up of that figure, but it also appears to be an underestimate because of the exclusion of important environmental impacts. Further research is to be commissioned by the DETR to inform the next Budget as the dispute about the merits of a tax - and its potential impact on aggregates recycling - rolls on.

The Chancellor signalled his intention to consider the case for an environmental tax on aggregates last July. The Quarry Products Association (QPA) and Confederation of British Industry (CBI) were quick to begin lobbying against the idea, with producers of other minerals watching anxiously from the sidelines fearing they might be next.

The industry may yet win the argument, or at least persuade the Chancellor to start the tax at a low rat

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