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Gloucestershire Business News

Local mineral supply ‘won’t keep up with demand’

A dwindling local supply of aggregates and minerals for construction will undermine improvements to infrastructure, according to a Gloucestershire businessman.

That is the warning from Moreton Cullimore, managing director of Frampton-based aggregates firm The Cullimore Group.

His statement follows a report published by the Mineral Products Association (MPA) in 2022, highlighting that between 3.8 and 4.1 billion tonnes of aggregates will be required between now and 2035, compared to a total of 3.2 billion tonnes supplied between 2008 and 2021.

The report reveals that around 250 million tonnes of aggregates have been used each year in Great Britain, with 28% coming from recycled and secondary sources, close to the maximum achievable.

Coupled with restricted availability and access to local mineral resources, this will result in materials travelling longer distances and an increased reliance on already stretched levels of recycled aggregates, which Moreton and the MPA both believe is not at a sufficient enough quantity to fill the gap.

Moreton Cullimore said: "The fact of the matter is a demand for material is far outstripping the supply. We also need to remember that we only have a finite amount of these materials, so we need to think smarter and more strategically about where our building materials come from. Recycled aggregate is great for certain uses, but construction is not one of them, certainly not for strong walls in houses and other buildings.

"While there is still ample resource of primary aggregates like limestone, there is a decline in other resources like sand and gravel, which adds pressure to other resources like quarried rock. This will have a domino effect, with minerals needing to be brought in from further afield, weakening that region's supply still further.

"Gloucestershire and Worcestershire are prime examples of counties that need to import minerals from elsewhere, as they simply do not produce enough to meet demand."

Mr Cullimore continued: "National Government policies for infrastructure and housing have been made with not enough consideration to how it will be achieved locally. There needs to be a better understanding of the materials needed for major developments like the Cyber Central development in Cheltenham and the A417 'missing link', what resources are available and how the levels of these resources are monitored.

"Reductions in planning permissions have added further fuel to the fire, as has the complicated timeline it takes to get approval for a new quarry site."

The outcome of an application by the Cullimore Group for a quarry site on the Gloucestershire-Worcestershire border, submitted before the Covid-19 pandemic, is still yet to be decided. A special planning committee has been arranged for January 26.

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