Green attack for quarry support

THE GOVERNMENT is backing a campaign to promote the minerals extraction industry, despite serious damage to the countryside from quarrying, green lobby groups have claimed.

Environmentalists say the Government has spent pounds 72,000 on promoting the industry at the expense of the landscape. They claim that the cash should be spent on research into ways to avoid digging up the countryside instead.

Organisations backing the protest include Friends of the Earth, the Council for the Protection of Rural England and the Marine Conservation Society.

At the beginning of Minerals '98 Week, the environmental groups claimed the demand for low-grade building material had increased over the last 40 years and that quarrying had meant countryside and coastal areas had been squandered.

A Government spokesman defended the cash payments. He said: "The Department of Trade contributed pounds 64,000 and the Department of the Environment put in pounds 8,000 to demonstrate the importance to the economy of local communities and the need for a sustainable industry. The Government has already said it is looking at a quarrying tax."

Elaine Gilligan, Quarrying Campaigner at FoE, said: "The minerals industry must not be allowed to obscure its environmentally-destructive practices behind the PR gloss of Minerals '98.

"The Government must recognise the impact that this outdated dinosaur industry has on communities around the country and take firm action to tame it. This should include a tax on primary aggregates in the next Budget, as promised by Chancellor Gordon Brown; better protection for environmentally- sensitive areas and other policies to encourage greener practices."

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