Balance required between Aggregate Industry and Environment - Boylan
Sinn Féin Newry Armagh MLA Cathal Boylan, who is the Vice Chair of the Assembly Environment Committee, speaking in an Assembly debate today on the need for an 'Aggregate Mapping Programme' has stressed the need for an approach that sustains the industry while recognising the environmental impacts which occur.
Mr Boylan said:
"It is one of the major environmental concerns, not only here in Ireland, but globally, that our natural resources are not infinite. Aggregates are the most commonly used construction material in Ireland. No major building or infrastructure is possible without them.
"The quarrying of these aggregates is a major rural industry. No-one should underestimate the importance of the aggregate industry and its relationship with the construction industry and wider economic development.
"I also believe we need to look at the impact the aggregate industry has on our environment and landscape. In 2005, 26 million tonnes of aggregate were produced from 160 quarries. No-one requires a degree in maths to work out that such production is unsustainable.
"The 'Tellus' survey, which started in 2004, should inform us of further resource reservoirs - then we must take a step back and realise that legacy from quarrying also needs to be addressed.
"Limited harm to landscapes and habitats has to be a major consideration. Quarrying is a temporary use of land, though I accept that this temporary use can last many years. There is a possibility - which should be a requirement - that at the end of its working life, a quarry can be restored and brought back into use for the wider community.
"This once again highlights the need for an Independent Environmental Protection Agency to ensure future projects are monitored. If the Minister is to introduce an aggregates mapping programme she must seriously take the environmental considerations into account." ENDS