WE ARE ESSENTIAL, REALISE IT, COMMUNICATE IT

I am pleased to inform you that we plan to publish our MPANI 2022/23 Journal in June /July of this year and hopefully, if the political position with hopefully a new NI Executive allows to publicly launch the Journal in the Long Gallery Stormont in late summer. Our Journal, and now the new videos we produced, will highlight the service we have delivered over many years and during the COVID Emergency,
our achievements and of course the challenges we face as an Association and Industry over the next two years and our objectives beyond.. 

The title for this next Journal is “MPANI 2022/23 – We are Essential, Realise It, Communicate It”. Well, you already know that, but it’s important to remember that at the start of Covid in early 2020, when other businesses and sectors were being forced to close, the NI Executive recognised our own mineral products industry as key and essential to keeping the economy going. So be proud of your business, be proud of your employees and be proud of the role you play in your local community and wider society.

As usual our MPANI 2022/23 Journal will be packed with hard-hitting, informative editorials authored by industry leaders, specialists, and high-ranking figures. As
in past years this Journal will be the most comprehensive source of information on how the Northern Ireland mineral products industry is viewed by our stakeholders.
We will have a leading figure from within Northern Ireland writing a Foreword, we
will have comment paragraphs written by leading figures from within local Government, comment from other construction industry representative organisations and views from a number of NGOs that the MPANI partners with. We will again have comment from
the Younger Generation of Managers and from Women, who play such an important role across so many parts of our sector, on how they see the future and what we need to do to attract young people and improve the diversity within our Industry. Our last journal “MPANI 2020/21” was published at the height of the Covid 19 pandemic and during varying degrees of lock down and yet we still produced, with your input and support, a 140 page edition packed with positive news and contributions. Let’s hope we do even better this time!

Since the last edition of Plant a lot has happened. We are starting to at last
emerge from the constraints of the Covid pandemic, we have been experiencing unprecedented fuel and construction material inflation along with labour and
skill shortages, we had no functioning NI Executive and we are now in election mode.

Then suddenly the Kremlin launches and invasion of Ukraine throwing Europe and possibly the world into further turmoil and uncertainty. My hope and prayers, and I am sure yours also, is that peace and the need to do to attract young people and improve the diversity within our Industry. Our last journal “MPANI 2020/21” was published at the height of the Covid 19 pandemic and during varying degrees of lock down and yet we still produced, with your input and support, a 140 page edition packed with positive news and contributions. Let’s hope we do even better this time! Since the last edition of Plant a lot has happened. We are starting to at last emerge from the constraints of the Covid pandemic, we have been experiencing unprecedented fuel and construction material inflation along with labour and skill shortages, we had no functioning NI Executive and we are now in election mode. Then suddenly the Kremlin launches and invasion of Ukraine throwing Europe and possibly the world into further turmoil and uncertainty. My hope and prayers, and I am sure yours also, is that peace and the power of good will again overcome and win through over evil. We stand with Ukraine!!

PRIORITIES FOR GOVERNMENT

During March MPANI met with our political parties, ahead of the Assembly election, to discuss “Priorities for Government” paper. It is vitally important, as I am sure you will agree, that our Industry’s voice is heard and your interests and right to operate is protected.

Another indispensable part of MPANI’s work will be sustaining the relationships we have built over the years with Government, Councils, NGOs and other Construction Industry organisations. Our goal will be to sustain and develop these working relationships going forward so that we not only protect your business, but the whole NI economy and the  futures of our valued employees.

On the 10th March MPANI held its AGM in the Dunsilly Hotel, Antrim at which we welcomed our new Chairman, Paul Brogan of the McQuillan Companies. We were also delighted that Paddy Mohan of Mannok accepted the role of Vice Chair. Both bring many years of industry experience and valuable knowledge to these core roles and the Association looks forward to their input and working closely with them in what will undoubtedly be a challenging tenure. Paul’s first task was to commend Simon McDowell for his sterling work as Chair over the past two difficult years.

To say the least we were extremely disappointed that the Chancellor, despite concerted efforts by many in the U.K. construction, minerals, waste and manufacturing sectors to change his mind, did not listen to reason and common sense. He went ahead with his cash grab by removing the red diesel rebate. It really raises the question of how committed this Government is to the U.K. energy intensive and most essential Industries. The reality is, that given the Treasury is collecting more money than ever now in VAT, as a result of rising energy and fuel costs, he could have gone much further and supported our sectors!

Last month the Public Accounts Committee published yet another report into the Planning System in NI.The Committee found that since the transfer of functions in 2015, planning authorities have failed to deliver on many of their key targets, particularly on major and significant development. The Committee was appalled by the performance statistics. It is simply unacceptable that almost one-fifth of the most important planning applications aren’t processed within three years. Such poor performance has an impact on applicants, developers and communities and is risking investment in Northern Ireland.

They also said that, on the basis of the evidence presented to the Committee, it is clear that the system is failing on delivering its key functions – major applications take years to decide, plan and deliver making it incredibly slow, and enforcement is inconsistent. Given such obvious issues, the Committee believes that a significant programme of reform is needed.

At the end of May Infrastructure Minister Mallon has announced that she will commence the Review of Old Mineral Permissions (ROMPs) legislation.The Minister said: “I recognise the concerns of those who live near hard rock quarries, that noise, blasting vibrations and other emissions are reduced as far as practicable. I have also listened to the quarrying
industry and those who are concernedabout environmental impacts of quarrying as well as their importance for nature conservation, geological interest and that they can offer opportunities to create new habitats for wildlife or bring other benefits.

MPANI welcome this announcement as it will finally level the playing field for our industry, address concerns of neighbours and help operators maximise the potential to deliver on biodiversity and geodiversity enhancement.

We look forward to working with the Department and local councils to ensure the review of environmental conditions attached to old permissions will reward and protect responsible operators.

SIMULATED CONSTRUCTION SITE

MPANI and a number of our Concrete Members were delighted to support the new Simulated Construction Site at CITB Nutts Corner. The facility will support real-life training as well as the industry’s needs for a skilled and competent workforce through pre-apprenticeship programmes, apprenticeships, FE / HE construction courses and upskilling of the existing workforce. Work has already commenced on the
site, with materials provided by MPANI.

The Simulated Construction Site will provide a facility that will encourage the practical application of retrofit applications to enable the NI Construction industry to meet the government targets for carbon neutral buildings.

Delivery of practical skills in previous pre-employment and apprenticeship schemes have taken place within an internal workshop or building, the Simulated Construction Site will enable a more realistic environment which will prepare individuals for work in the real world of construction.

This free of charge facility is the ideal training location for trainers and employers to host their own training and inhouse trainers for construction employers. In the future, CITB NI hope to develop the location for site visits and potential job sampling for schools/careers.

Barry Neilson, Chief Executive CITB NI said: “CITB NI is delighted to announce details
of the Simulated Construction Site and we are very grateful to MPANI for their support with facilitating materials for the site.

There is a need for real life training on the job, nothing better than hands on experience to combine theory and practical work. With the facility being free of charge to use, it is the perfect location for both training providers and employers. We are looking forward to welcoming our first organisation onto the site later in March and we look forward
to watching how the site is developed, progressed and used by the industry.”

CHARITY GOLF DAY

Finally, we are now looking forward to our Local Industry Charity Golf Day, in aid of the Alzheimer’s UK and Asthma and Lung UK, on Monday May 30th at the Hilton Templepatrick.

If you are interested in registering a fourball, sponsoring a hole or attending the dinner please give me a call on 07876136929 or email [email protected]