Although the long-running story of the Lingerbay quarry has come to an end, the debate where building materials are to come from in the future, remains.
The company at the centre of the quarry issue, building materials producer Lafarge, has called for a debate on the issue, saying that the UK consumes around 260Mt of building materials annually with only 60Mt recycled.
Lafarge’s executive director Nigel Jackson: ”The UK is is richly endowed with mineral resources and there is a need for a mature debate with environmental groups on how to meet the country’s raw materials need without compromising the goals of sustainable development.”
However, opinions about the need for quarry products in the future vary. In 2000, the Quarry Products Association projected demand over the next 20 years at 215Mt and “flat”. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has also published a report, looking at predictions vs actually needed demand for aggregates and concluded that there is overcapacity rather than undercapacity in the industry.
Meanwhile, Nigel Jackson countered: “Although some quarries have a long life, there are a considerable number whose capacity will run out in the next five years. Given the lead times involved, we need to discuss the issues now, not wait for reserves to run out.” Who will have the last word ?