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Quarry firms slam 'blinkered' infrastructure commission

Friday, 26/01/2018 GMT+7

The Mineral Products Association (MPA), which represents quarry firms and aggregate suppliers, says that the National Infrastructure Commission’s draft National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA) gives no thought to the two billion tonnes of aggregates and mineral products that will be needed in the UK for building and maintaining infrastructure over the next 20 years.

The MPA is also critical of the way that rail freight appears to be simply written off as insignificant.

MPA has highlighted supply chain issues in its response to the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) consultation document National Infrastructure Assessment: Congestion, Capacity, Carbon - Priorities for National Infrastructure.

Its key concern is the continuing lack of any integrated consideration of the supply chain implications of infrastructure ambitions within the draft National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA) or more generally within government. It says that without a strategic approach for the supply of aggregates and mineral products, “there is no guarantee that projects can be delivered in the medium to long term”. 

It says that the commission and its NIA should recognise the significance of supply chain issues and help stimulate a more strategic consideration of how to integrate long term supply chain implications with project and programme delivery.

A related concern highlighted by MPA is what it calls “the dismissive attitude” of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) to rail freight. The MPA says that rail has a substantial role in the delivery of aggregates and heavy construction materials.

“While there will be inevitable constraints on the role of rail freight, the NIA should adopt a more positive approach to the benefits of rail freight in the foreseeable future,” the MPA says. 

MPA chief executive Nigel Jackson said:  “The critical role of supply chains such as mineral products is persistently overlooked by the NIC and government when outlining ambitious plans for future infrastructure and housing investment. Unless there is more strategic awareness and recognition of the role of supply chains such as mineral products in the delivery of infrastructure, housing and other development we will not achieve the most sustainable long term supply to these projects. The blinkered attitude towards the benefits of rail freight just serves to emphasise the lack of awareness of the supply chain permeating the consultation. This needs to change as a matter of urgency; supply should never just be assumed.”

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