THE Mineral Products Association, the principal trade association for the quarrying and aggregates industry in Scotland, held its inaugural Parliamentary Reception at the Scottish Parliament, where principal speaker John Swinney MSP spoke of the invaluable work of the Association and its members.
The assembled visitors heard the Chairman of the Association, Alan Mackenzie, speak of the challenges faced by the industry. He said, “The challenge our industry faces in Scotland is maintaining its current asset base of quarries, asphalt and ready mix plants and, even more critically, its existing highly skilled work force through the period, until the majority of the major Roads Schemes in the pipeline actually start.”
Mr Mackenzie called for “a sustained, long term level of investment on our country’s infrastructure” and concluded that “the time was now right for a fundamental change in approach to dealing with planning applications for aggregates”.
John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth, referred to Scotland’s Infrastructure Investment Plan which had enabled the Government to direct funding towards major projects such as the Queensferry Crossing, the Southern General Hospital and M8/M73 Link.
Mr Swinney said, “We want to pull plans off shelves and see real construction activity across the country. Our Non Profit Distributing programme maximises this investment bringing immediate benefits to our economy, in particularly to the construction sector and its supply chains.
“I would also welcome the MPA’s interactions with the planning system. In terms of planning we are doing all we can to help boost the industry. Our National Planning Framework 3 recognises we need construction materials and energy minerals in a diverse energy mix. Our draft Scottish Planning Policy outlines how we will promote the responsible extraction of resources.”
John Sheridan, Executive Director of the MPA in Scotland, said, “We are indebted to Mr Swinney for giving us his valuable time to not only share his thoughts but also mix and chat later with our guests, talking face to face on detailed issues.”
As well as the Scottish Government and its Agencies, the audience included a number of senior officials from a wide number of stakeholders.