Roads to be built with more waste materials

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

MOTORWAYS are to be recycled and slag heaps dug up in an attempt attempt to curb hold down the construction industry's rising demand for sand, gravel and rock. hewed from the British countryside.

But even though the Government wants the industry to use twice as much waste material in building projects, the amount of quarrying in Britain is still set to increase by about one-third by between now and 2006, according to plans issued by the Department of the Environment and Scottish Office yesterday.

The pounds 2bn-a-year roads programme uses swallows 30 per cent of all Britain's construction materials, making it the largest single consumer. The departments of Environment and Transport are launching a joint research programme into using more waste materials in road-building construction and repair. Under present DoT standards, only 10 per cent of the asphalt in a new road surface can be made from scrapings from old roads.

Also going into new roads and other construction projects will be Material from colliery waste tips, china clay spoil heaps in the West Country, slate waste in North Wales, blast furnace slag heaps, rubble from demolition sites and power station ash will also go into road and other construction projects.

There are more than 3 billion tonnes of this material in Britain, according to planning guidance issued to local councils and industry by the Department of the Environment and the Scottish Office yesterday. Ministers want its the use of it to rise from 30 million tonnes a year now to 55 million tonnes by 2006. Yesterday BACMI, the trade body representing the quarrying industry, said that target was achievable.

But The Government also envisages three new coastal super-quarries being developed in Scotland one already exists at Lingerbay on the west coast producing Each will be many times the size of a conventional quarry. Ships will bring the rock to ports in the Thames Estuary and elsewhere in England - some 300 million tonnes of rock a year.

However, more recycling and super-quarries will not satisfy all of the growth in demand in England and Wales. forecast to increase from about 260 million tonnes now to some 350 million by 2006. The Government envisages output of hard rock from English quarries staying at about today's level while output of sand and gravel will rise. Yesterday's guidance is intended to ensure county councils give the necessary planning permissions to quarry firms.

Lily Matson of the Council for the Protection of Rural England said: 'This is bad news for the countryside. In drawing up the final version of this guidance the Government has moved a lot closer to what the industry wanted.'

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