Grant scheme launched to minimise impacts of aggregate extraction

English Nature and the Countryside Agency have jointly launched a £9.7 million grant scheme to manage the impacts that aggregate extraction can have on the environment and local communities.

The new fund, the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF) partnership grant scheme, will support projects which benefit landscapes, heritage, biodiversity, geo-diversity and communities affected by aggregate extraction.

It will have an allocation of around £5.7 million in 2005/06 and £4 million in 2006/07 which will be targeted at land and community-based projects, with an additional £1 million each year for marine projects. The money will come from the Aggregate Levy itself - a tax on the production of primary aggregates such as sand, gravel and crushed rock, introduced in 2002.

The ALSF aims to address the environmental and social cost of aggregate extraction by delivering environmental improvements, minimising the demand for primary aggregates, promoting environmentally friendly extraction and transport and encouraging the use of recycled and alternative materials.

Environment Minister, Elliot Morley said: "Extracting sand, gravel and rock in the past has had a significant effect on the environment. This fund aims to address this environmental cost by enhancing old aggregate extraction sites."

The joint delivery approach is part of the work to bring together the activities of English Nature, Countryside Agency, and Rural Development Service, as announced by Margaret Beckett in last year's 'Rural Strategy'.

Andy Brown, Chief Executive of English Nature said: "The launch of the scheme demonstrates the commitment of English Nature, Countryside Agency, and the Rural Development Service to improve services to all of our customers. Over the past three years the Aggregate Levy has produced practical, on the ground results for wildlife, geology and local communities affected by aggregate extraction. The launch of this new scheme can only strengthen this work further."

By David Hopkins


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