Costs and affects of quarrying in National Parks Essay

This essay has a total of 1957 words and 14 pages.

costs and affects of quarrying in National Parks



Mining and quarrying were the backbone of Britain's economy since the start of the
industrial revolution. Due to cleaner methods in energy production, which have been
enforced during last 100 years and the course of developments in modern technology,
Britain's principle wealth is now governed mainly by the success of her tertiary
businesses synonymous with the larger towns and cities. Nevertheless our standard of
living also depends on the supply of aggregates, the most basic of building materials but
most commonly used in the construction of buildings, transport networks, tunnels railroads
and airports. According to Foster Yeoman (1994) the aggregates industry is five times the
size of the domestic coal industry. However, such material often comes from quarries
located in areas of high scenic value, which are often National Parks or Areas of Natural
Beauty (AONB's) and is raising cause for concern among environmentalists and local
communities, but for different reasons.


The National Parks of England and Wales were designated as such under the National Parks
and Access to the Countryside Act of 1949. The purposes for which they were designated
were to: ‘conserve the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of its area and to
provide for the enjoyment and understanding of its special qualities by the public'
Association of National Park Authorities (ANPA 2001). Furthermore the National Park
Authorities (NPAs) are also required to foster the social and economic well being of the
communities within the park.' Scotland however had a much smaller population; therefore
the pressures on the land were deemed not to be as great. Consequently places of natural
beauty did not warrant the designation of national park status. Nevertheless, the new
Scottish Parliament is currently implementing National Park areas throughout Scotland.


Described by Simmons (1974) protected landscape is a non-consumptive resource: the crop is
of a visual nature and when this has been taken in by the consumer; the source remains the
same and it is the aim of the management to perpetuate this attribute. It is the duty of
the NPAs (and their governing body ANPA) to promote methods of sustainable development,
which is commonly achieved by each NPA having a ‘balanced membership', consisting of
local people and those representing the national interest by virtue of their individual
knowledge or experience. Many hill, mountain and wetland areas, and their communities
depend upon the NPAs and the estimated 100 million tourists who visit the national parks
of England and Wales each year. This figure justifies a £40 million contribution by the
Government and the European Union to the management of the parks and also enables many
places to attain grants from the European Union.


The Quarry Products Association (QPA 2001) suggests that there are 1300 quarries currently
in operation in the UK producing 210 million tonnes per year: equating to £3 billion
worth of product, which accounts for ten percent of the nations GDP. Furthermore, the QPA
infer that quarrying provides 40,000 jobs, both directly and indirectly, primarily to
people in rural areas across the United Kingdom. Although these figures are impressive,
environmentalists raise concerns over their obtrusion on the landscape. According to
Edwards (1993) approximately 23 percent, totaling 300, of these quarries are located on
National Park land in England and Wales and are expected to have devastating affects on
natural habitats and ultimately the local economy as tourism may become affected.















Map 1. Location of the
Peak District National Park




Wallis (1992) acknowledged 1200 people working in quarries in the Peak District National
Park. However, according to the census of 1991 this figure reflects only 5.1 percent of
the working population and not 10 percent as suggested. The Peak Park itself employs 950
locals on full and part time basis (equating to just over 4 percent of working population)
while an undisclosed number of people work in the service industries associated with
tourism. However people working in the quarries would be expected to earn relatively high
wages taking into consideration the skills involved, extensive training, safety and shift
work. Those working in tourist related industries are often paid at minimum wage due to
minimum training involved and the fact that many are employees of small business
enterprises.


With regards to training, size of quarry and location it could be argued that the local
economy does not benefit. Scotland's premier ‘super-quarry' Glensanda in Morvern, Argyll
employs only 170 people from various villages and towns around Argyll, Inverness-shire and
Strathclyde, few are not even local to the region. The reason behind such a small
workforce is due to ‘innovative materials handling and processing techniques,' developed
by Foster Yeoman, a private English company. Delivering materials by ocean going
transport, which is easily facilitated by the deep-sea lochs around Glensanda, which
reduces the need for lorry drivers and invariably cuts back on expenses. BACMI estimates
that ‘a lorry load of crushed rock will double after a 30 mile journey.'


Map 2. Location of Glensanda


Large quarries are generally inimical developments, producing dust and noise as well
unsightly holes in the surrounding landscape. The only positive attribute is that Port
Appin, the nearest village, located across Loch Linnhe is by and large unaffected by
pollution due to the transport arrangements. However, the landscape will be changed
forever with the loss of the 2,000ft mountain and journalist Edwards (1993), has
highlighted the fact that the money, which the company was obliged to commit to the
reinstatement of the land is grossly inadequate and it is questionable as to whether a
natural habitat will ever be regained.









Picture 1. Transport arrangement at Glensanda

There are potentially 5 other sites along the west coast of Scotland that have been
earmarked for super-quarries primarily due to the fact that ‘environmental objections
are inhibiting further quarrying in England' (Edwards 1993). Although the suggested sites
are not recognized as a National Parks they are definitely Areas of Outstanding Natural
Beauty. Those in favour of such quarries are corporate businesses and to a much lesser
extent local communities, which are torn between the prospects of long-term employment
even though it will be at the cost of their scenic environment. Upon casting votes in
favour of a super quarry on the isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides, Hetherington
reported that 38 percent abstained while 62 percent voted yes but many with a heavy heart.
Furthermore the benefits appear to be reaped by continental Europe, where ‘60 percent of
the quarried stone' is bound (FosterYeoman) while the disturbance fund for the island will
only receive £25,000 per annum.



The Yorkshire Dales reputedly provide the majority of the local markets with supplies from
their own quarries, ‘contributing £6 million per year to the local economy' (Dales
1994). Altruistically, local businesses involved in aggregate production appear to be
concerned about 7 percent of the local working population whose ‘well-being depends on
the industry' (Dales 1994). The Dales are rich in chemical grade limestone, which British
Steel purchases in tens of thousands of tonnes for their blast furnace on Teesside.
However, in a bid to curtail transport costs they decided in 1992 to opt for road
transport rather than to continue using the Redmire to Redcar railway line. Unsurprisingly
this cost effective measure meant that as many as 60 lorries each day, six days a week,
would be driving through small country villages, which locals feared would inevitably lead
to an increase of noise and air pollution and also cause vibration damage to older
buildings.


Map 3. Yorkshire Dales



Many NPAs have taken these concerns into deliberation and have campaigned with local
authorities to the DoE to re-route the journeys taken by industrious vehicles. Furthermore
they also drive to curb the detrimental visual impact that quarrying has on the landscape.
In the case of Topley Pike Quarry in the Peak District, established at the beginning of
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