The Crown Estate has published a new report highlighting the significant opportunity provided by the nation’s marine aggregates resource to deliver a sustainable, secure and growing contribution to the UK’s building materials supply chain, coastal management and port development.
The ‘Marine Aggregates’ report, being launched at the CBI’s ‘Living with Minerals’ conference today, sets out the important role that marine aggregates have been playing in the construction industry. For example, in London marine aggregates contribute half of all primary aggregate, including for the construction of high profile projects such as Crossrail; and in South Wales, marine aggregates contribute more than 70 per cent of sand and gravel sales, with South East Wales almost entirely dependent on marine supplies for natural sand.
Nick Everington, Portfolio Manager for Marine Minerals at The Crown Estate said: “While for centuries quarries have provided the sand and gravel that has built our homes, bridges, schools and other key infrastructure, in recent decades offshore sand and gravel have played an increasingly important part – especially in London and the south east of England, as well as south Wales.
In addition to supplying the building industry, marine aggregates are essential to developing our new port infrastructure, such as the London Gateway, which are critical to the nation’s trading activity. Sand and gravel can also make a unique contribution towards the adaptation of our coastline to help tackle coastal erosion as a result of climate change.”
The conclusions of an Ernst and Young market study are presented in the report, which shows the potential for growth in the demand for marine aggregates as a result of onshore resource constraints and changes in supply patterns within the construction industry.
The report also provides local authorities and developers with valuable national and regional marine aggregates reserve and resource information. For example, this information will give confidence to local authorities and government bodies to demonstrate a steady and adequate supply of aggregates, including the development of Local Aggregates Assessments. For planning teams in coastal and offshore areas, as well as developers, the report will define the contribution that marine aggregates can make, such as identifying offshore sources and providing information on supply routes.
The Crown Estate, which leases the UK seabed for sand and gravel resources off the coast of the UK, has also been continuing to work in partnership with industry to improve the sustainability performance of the marine aggregates sector. For example, it has recently worked with BMAPA (British Marine Aggregates Producers Association) and a range of partners, to provide best practice guidance note on carrying out Coastal Impact Study (CIS), an essential requirement for regulatory applications.