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Showcase Launch of MPA Celebrates Four Major Achievements
Showcase 09, the mineral products industry’s premier event, took place on 4 June 2009 and was more momentous and significant than ever before. Over 550 delegates attended the event in the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
Showcase 09 celebrated four major achievements: the official launch of the Mineral Products Association (MPA), the affiliation of British Precast the trade federation for the UK concrete products industry with the MPA, the 40th anniversary of the Restoration Awards and the announcement of a new Natural England Biodiversity Award.
In her opening speech to the Showcase 09 event and launch of MPA,
Lynda Chase-Gardener, MPA Chairman, said: “Today we officially launch our new organisation. We have brought together three respected bodies from a large and important sector to create a dynamic, focussed and efficient association.
The mineral products we represent are, in reality, all part of the same production line. Whether it is aggregates, cement, concrete, asphalt, mortar, lime or silica sand, they are all essential to UK PLC.
We also offer sustainable solutions. The MPA has powerful initiatives, including health and safety, carbon reduction, responsible sourcing and biodiversity. Each of these are examples where long-term success will depend on partnerships with many organisations.”
British Precast signed the agreement to affiliate with the MPA, with a view to moving to an integrated corporate structure over the next twelve months. The combination of the MPA and British Precast adds up to a powerful lobbying force for both concrete and other heavy-side materials and will enable the entire concrete industry to speak with one aligned voice.
Poul Christensen, CBE, Acting Chairman of Natural England, and the Rt Hon Lord Smith of Finsbury, Chairman of the Environment Agency, presented a special award to mark the 40th anniversary of the Restoration Awards and the Cooper-Heyman Cup for outstanding restoration in 2009 respectively.
The one-off 40th anniversary trophy for the best Cooper-Heyman Cup winner since the Scheme began was presented to Laleham Farm. This former sand and gravel quarry in Staines, Middlesex, now part of Brett Group, was chosen because of its careful restoration to immaculate farmland where a variety of exotic vegetables such as fennel, coriander and giant spring onions are grown. Restoration involved the careful handling and replacement of topsoils across the site, which also contains wildlife corridors and a small lake attracting ducks, geese, amphibians and dragonflies.
Seven further sites were also battling it out to be the 2009 Cooper-Heyman Cup winner. This prestigious and long-standing annual award for the most outstanding restoration site was presented by Lord Smith to the National Memorial Arboretum. This exceptional site in Alrewas, Staffordshire, a joint entry between Lafarge Aggregates Ltd and The National Memorial Arboretum Co. Ltd, is where the Armed Forces Memorial commemorating servicemen killed on duty since 1948 is located. Restoration of the Alrewas site has created a historic, peaceful place of national, international and personal significance for visitors, where the wooded parkland, lakes, ponds, riverine habitat, grassland, reedbeds and wetland also provide a broad range of habitats to support biodiversity.
In an important announcement, Poul Christensen stated that Natural England would, at next year’s Showcase, be sponsoring a new Biodiversity Award. He said:
“Our work with the minerals industry is a model which other sectors could usefully follow. The minerals sector is an enthusiastic and practical partner whose contribution to biodiversity and geodiversity, mainly thorough post-extraction restoration but also through sharing of data from its offshore dredging areas, is a practical example of what industries can achieve by committing to work with the environment. We hope the new Natural England Biodiversity Award which we are announcing this year will help raise the profile of the good work these companies deliver.”
This collaboration between Natural England and the MPA to recognise achievement in Biodiversity builds on the Biodiversity Action Plan launched at last year’s Showcase by the Association. Introducing this trophy will buttress the other biodiversity initiatives that the MPA is already involved in, such as the Nature After Minerals (NAM) project, run in conjunction with the RSPB and Natural England; QPA Northern Ireland’s involvement in the ‘Our Nature with Aggregates’ strategy; and, at European level, the Countdown 2010 scheme.
Poul Christensen’s biodiversity announcement tied in with the overall theme of Showcase 09 which was “Essential Materials – Sustainable Solutions from Production to Consumption”. Showcase 09, hosted by Channel 4 broadcaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy, with Kate Humble, BBC Springwatch presenter and Vice-president of the RSPB, spotlighted MPA’s overall sustainability performance across the aggregates, quarry products, cement and concrete sectors in a topical, informative and captivating mix of filmed pieces, on-stage presentations, announcements and interviews.