The Quarry Products Association of Northern Ireland along with local MPs Sammy Wilson and Margaret Ritchie recently met with the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Priti Patel, and her Treasury officials in London.
They were there to discuss the urgent need for the re-instatement of the Northern Ireland Aggregates Levy Credit Scheme (ALCS) and the 80% derogation that the industry enjoyed here between 2004 and 2010 when it was suspended due to a European Court judgement.
The suspension of the scheme saw the aggregates levy in Northern Ireland increase from 40p per tonne on stone and sand to £2.00 per tonne, an increase of 500% and almost 40% of the selling price of stone in Northern Ireland. The suspension followed a lengthy legal battle against the Northern Ireland scheme by the British Aggregates Association.
However following a formal investigation that lasted over three years the EU Commission announced that it was retrospectively approving the ALCS scheme that ran from 2004 to 2010 in Northern Ireland as in their view it did meet European state aid guidelines.
Gordon Best, Regional Director of QPANI, said: “Our Industry is extremely grateful for the assistance that all our politicians have given over the past few years in supporting the Northern Ireland industry. Our MLAs, our MPs at Westminster and our MEPs have given us support throughout this frustratingly long process and our members and their employees are very grateful.”
Added Sammy Wilson: “I believe it is essential that we get the legislation in place for the retrospective scheme. I believe it is important that the Government brings forward legislation now as quickly as possible and am pleased that the Minister is now working on this issue with her officials.
“I congratulate the Quarry Products Association in their tenacity on this issue which is important to the Northern Ireland economy, especially rural areas, where quarries represent a major source of employment.”
More in the next print issue of Plant & Civil Engineer.