Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

Session 2003 - 04

12 March 2004

An extended aggregates levy relief scheme for Northern Ireland

Publication of Report

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee today published its Third Report: Introduction of the Aggregates Levy in Northern Ireland: One Year On (HC 395, Session 2003-04).  The Report follows previous work carried out by the Committee which looked at the likely effect of the levy on competitiveness in Northern Ireland, taking into account the unique circumstances in this region.

Following an admission by Government that the aggregates levy is unlikely to bring about the environmental improvements sought, the Committee  welcomed attempts to put in place a new scheme designed to address concerns raised.

The Rt Hon Michael Mates MP, Chairman of the Committee said:

"We appreciate the willingness of the Economic Secretary to the Treasury to listen to our concerns about the impact that the levy is having in Northern Ireland, particularly in respect of the proximity of the land border with the Republic of Ireland where no such levy is in place.

We support the Treasury in its attempt to put in place a new extended levy relief scheme and welcome the steps recently taken to secure the environmental improvements sought by the levy through the introduction of a Code of Practice and Compliance Framework. 

It is vital that the Treasury are able to put the new scheme in place by 1 April 2004 in order to avoid the additional burdens on industry that would otherwise come into effect on that day.

We recognise that success in introducing the new scheme on time now lies in the hands of the European Commission.   We urge the Commission to consider the UK's State Aid application in a timely manner in order to facilitate introduction of the new scheme on the intended date.

The European Commission has provided funding in other areas that has been instrumental in the regeneration of Northern Ireland's infrastructure and its economic development.  We hope that this goodwill will continue with acceptance of the UK's State Aid application, allowing the aggregates and construction industries in Northern Ireland to survive the impact that the levy has had on their businesses."