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Northern Ireland quarries face closure as UK levy drives up cross-border price divide

By Clare Weir

Quarry owners in border areas on Northern Ireland could be put out of business because a tax on UK firms means they are losing out to rivals in the Republic, it was claimed.

The Quarry Products Association of Northern Ireland (QPANI) said manufacturers of concrete and asphalt products on this side of the border must pay £2 per tonne on their products both here and for export.

Meanwhile, competitors in the Irish Republic can import materials into Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK with no fee.

After an EU General Court decision and subsequent suspension of the aggregates levy credit scheme in December, Northern Ireland lost its 80% derogation on the full level of the UK aggregates levy.

Gordon Best, regional director of QPANI, said: "The fact that we have a 300-mile border with another state that has no similar levy and that the levy represents some 49% of the ex-quarry sale price of a tonne of stone in Northern Ireland means this levy has to be changed," he said.

"QPANI are now seeking the support of our MPs to influence the Treasury to immediately assist the industry in Northern Ireland."

One quarry owner in Co Tyrone has claimed that 12 of his staff could be laid off because the firm has lost out on supplying aggregate to a project just four miles away from his depot.

Robert Riddles of Riddles Bros Ltd in Strabane said he had been asked to supply 65,000 tonnes of aggregate to a new wind farm development at Carrickatayne, Donemana. But he said the £2 aggregate levy meant his company "will not be price competitive".

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