The MPA welcomes the UK government’s support for the ‘Leaders Pledge for Nature’ for nature recovery announced on 28 September. However, the ambition to protect a third of the land and sea for wildlife must be backed up by proper resourcing, for both creation and enhancement of new areas but also management of existing protected sites.
The MPA and its members have a long and strong track record of respecting nature and delivering net gains in wildlife, through sensitive selection of sites for quarrying, the management of land, and restoration of sites. To date MPA members have created at least 8,000 hectares of the UK’s most important and threatened habitats such as meadows, heathlands, woodlands, and wetlands through restoring quarries following extraction of minerals, with at least 11,000 hectares committed to in restoration plans.
Many restored sites are open to the public to enjoy and together form the MPA’s ‘National Nature Park’ network across the country. Many sites have achieved nationally important status as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) or have been designated as Local Nature Reserves.
Yet, more could be done if some of the taxes paid for every tonne of construction aggregate that is extracted could be recycled back into environmental projects. The Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund was cut without notice in 2011, and the MPA has been pressing government to reinstate such a measure, with support of wildlife organisations and local councils. This could provide valuable funding for nature conservation of community projects in the wider countryside.
MPA Chief Executive Nigel Jackson said:
“We are uniquely placed among industries to contribute to nature recovery, through sensitive site selection, management and restoration. Our members have been restoring sites for the last 50 years and we are the only sector to have a Biodiversity Strategy now into its 10th year. The MPA and its members will continue to deliver beautiful places for wildlife and for people to enjoy.
“A new Aggregates Levy Community Fund, recycling a small amount of the tax we pay on extraction into local projects, would make an important contribution to wider nature recovery being delivered. We need to see the right political sentiments translated into delivery of action on the ground.”
Photo: Peregrine falcon at undisclosed northern quarry. Photo credit: Michael Cardus