Surely no one can deny that the current set of economic circumstances our industry and wider Northern Ireland economy finds itself in indicates the need for change at an industry level, within Government economic and procurement policy and indeed in wider society.
The pain that many have been through highlights the undeniable and unquestionable need for change within our Industry. Change is not easy and mostly takes us out of our comfort zone. Let me share some well known quotations about change that I feel are applicable at this time and for our industry.
Reinhold Niebuhr said, “God give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and knowledge to change the things I can.”
Charles Kettering said, “the world hates change yet it is the only thing that has brought progress”
Oprah Winfrey said, “We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are”
However, how do we make that change? The industry has to make it themselves. This will take leadership, it will take risks and most importantly it will take a real sense of realism. The QPANI, in partnership with our colleagues in the Irish Concrete Federation, will shortly be publishing an All Island Construction Materials Supply Capacity Analysis Report that will reinforce this call for radical change across the Island of Ireland.
The recent aggregates levy judgment from the European General Court has caused ripples throughout the UK Quarrying Industry. We now await the EU Commission response and the subsequent decisions by the UK Treasury. We must ensure however that whatever decisions are reach the UK Industry speaks and acts as one and gains maximum influence with Government on what type of aggregates levy might come after.
There are many who will be reading these pages who were once members of QPANI or some who never felt it necessary to support the Association. I make no apology in saying that the work and efforts of those companies who have supported QPANI over the 14 years of its existence have changed the industry for the better.
The value of having one voice to speak on behalf of the industry to influence Government policy cannot be underestimated. As an Industry we depend on each other because Government and policy makers will not talk to individual companies no matter what size they are.
I would appeal, even given the current economic circumstances, that anyone involved directly or indirectly in the quarry products sector in Northern Ireland give consideration to supporting the QPANI in its important work of protecting the whole industry’s interests whether it be on prompt payment, aggregates levy, procurement of local construction materials, planning, health and safety, environmental regulation and numerous other issues.