The Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF) was established in 2002 and ran until March 2011, using revenue from the Aggregates Levy - a tax of £2.00 per tonne (2012) on primary aggregate sales which was originally introduced in 2002.
The Levy itself was introduced as a means to better reflect the environmental costs of winning primary construction aggregates, and to encourage the use of alternative, secondary and recycled construction materials. To reduce the environmental consequences of winning primary construction aggregates, a proportion of the revenue raised by the new Levy was allocated to a research fund, termed the Aggregate Levy Sustainability Fund.
The stated objectives of the wider Levy Fund were to:
- minimise the demand for primary aggregates
- promote environmentally friendly extraction and transport
- reduce the effect of local aggregate extraction
Recognising the specific issues surrounding the marine industry, a separate marine fund was established, with funding administered through the Marine Environment Protection Fund administered by Cefas and a separate heritage fund administered by English Heritage.
A Steering Group was established which comprised representatives from Government policy makers and regulators, statutory advisors for nature conservation and heritage, The Crown Estate and industry, and the research was commissioned in line with five strategic aims:
- To develop and use seabed mapping techniques to improve the evidence base of the nature, distribution and sensitivity of marine environmental and archaeological resources relevant to marine aggregate activities
- To increase understanding of the effects of aggregate extraction activities, including noise, and their significance
- To develop monitoring, mitigation and management techniques where applicable, underpinned by scientific research
- To research and understand socio-economic issues associated with aggregate extraction activities
- To promote co-ordination and establishment of sustainable archives for the dissemination of research related to these aims to a wide range of stakeholders
Through BMAPA, the marine aggregate industry was involved in the assessment and evaluation of marine ALSF projects, and participated on steering groups, provided data and contribution in-kind support to a wide range of projects.
Between 2002 and the close of the fund in March 2011, over £22.5 million was spent on research associated with marine aggregate extraction, to improve the way in which the industry was planned, assessed and managed.
Details of all the research commissioned, including final reports and where to access the supporting data, can be found at the programmes legacy website www.cefas.defra.gov.uk/alsf.aspx
The website includes a range of summary documents produced by the MEPF steering group, which review the underlying evidence and state of knowledge relating to the strategic aims. The most recent of these reviews was published in 2010, and summarised the achievements of the programme and the challenges looking forwards. This was followed by a series of scientific monograph reports, which provided an overview of the state of current knowledge on a range of issues, based on background literature along with the contribution made through projects funded by the Marine ALSF programme.
These summary documents can be accessed via: www.cefas.defra.gov.uk/alsf/downloads.asp
The marine ALSF programme represented one of the most substantial public investments in UK marine research that has taken place this decade, and the research commissioned focussed on improving the way that the marine aggregate industry is planned, assessed and managed, in turn reducing the potential environmental impacts of marine aggregate production. Importantly, these outputs also have the potential to provide significant added value to the wider marine science that underpins the planning and management of many activities within British seas, as well as showcasing the capabilities of UK marine science.
From a marine aggregate industry perspective, the marine ALSF programme represented an unparalleled opportunity for practical, applied and cost-effective research to be undertaken in order to better understand the environmental effects of our operations.
While funding under the marine ALSF programme ended in March 2011, the collective value of the individual outputs was considered so significant that BMAPA and The Crown Estate commissioned a state of knowledge review to capture the considerable progress made. This publication therefore provides a bookend to the completion of a hugely successful collaborative research programme which involved Government departments, agencies, advisors, the marine aggregate industry and The Crown Estate.
This report can be downloaded here. Alternatively, hard copies may be requested by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.