Letter: Harsh consequences of mineral excavation

Sir: Nicholas Schoon's timely article and your leader on the plan to quarry away a mountain on Harris (23 June) highlight the consequences of the Government's commitment to meet the apparently inexorable rise in minerals demand. Despite the current review of national minerals policy, it is evident that this commitment remains firm.

To meet rising demand without exacerbating existing quarrying conflicts in areas such as the Mendip Hills, the Government is encouraging coastal superquarry development in Scotland and elsewhere. Rather than exporting the environmental consequences of minerals extraction from England and Wales, however, the Government should tackle the root cause of the problem.

This entails finding ways of reducing the demand for aggregates and encouraging society to be more 'minerals efficient'. Take John MacGregor's roads programme. The Council for the Protection of Rural England has recently published research suggesting that the minerals needed for the national roads programme up to 2025 would require a hole the size of Oxfordshire more than a metre deep. A similar calculation could be done for the number of Scottish mountains required.

Until the Government reduces the rate of road-building and develops other policies to make us more 'aggregates efficient', we can expect to see the tragedy on Harris played out many times.

Yours sincerely,


Council for the Preservation of Rural England

London, SW1

(Photograph omitted)