Decade of under-replenishment risks aggregate supply squeeze

The Mineral Products Association (MPA) have recently released their Annual Mineral Planning Survey (AMPS) for 2022. It highlights that demand for construction aggregates has outstripped new permitted reserves for ten years running, placing unprecedented pressure on future availability.

Using data from MPA members, the reports shows a chronic failure to replenish rock, sand and gravel reserves at anywhere near the same rate as the materials being used in British construction.

As long as consumption continues to exceed availability through new mineral planning consents, the reserve-base upon which the mineral products sector is so dependent will continue to diminish says the MPA, with serious consequences for the delivery of energy infrastructure, transport improvements and new homes.

The AMPS report highlights that the ten-year average replenishment rates, which compare the tonnages for new permissions against extraction, stands at just 52% for crushed rock. This means that for every 100 tonnes of rock sold, just 52 tonnes of new permissions are granted. The same rate for sand and gravel sales over the past decade is 63%.

At a regional level, the picture is even more concerning, with counties that traditionally have been responsible for large exports to other regions of Britain seeing some of the fastest declining reserves over the ten year period.


Other key findings of the survey include:

2021 demand growth – The sales volumes of land-sourced aggregates increased by 15.4% in 2021 to 141 million tonnes, up from 122 million tonnes in 2020.

Replenishment of sand and gravel – Just 50% of annual sales were replenished through new permissions in 2021, producing a rolling ten-year average of 63%.

Replenishment of crushed rock – 45% of annual sales in 2021 were replaced by newly permitted crushed rock reserves, producing a ten-year average of 52%.

Planning applications – There were 49 applications in 2021 (44 in 2020). Most were extensions to existing quarries.

Planning decisions – 7 applications were determined for sand and gravel extraction in 2021 (17 in 2020) with 3 being approved (14 in 2020), 2 refused (2 in 2020) and a further 2 withdrawn. For crushed rock in 2021, 2 applications were approved (2 in 2020) with no refusals or withdrawals.

Time taken to obtain permission – Over the period 2012-2021, it took an average of almost 32 months for permission for new sand and gravel reserves and more than 29 months for crushed rock. Most were extensions to existing quarries.

Plan allocations – Over the past ten years, 38% of all new permissions issued were for sites that had not been allocated in a mineral plan, suggesting the system is failing to plan, manage and monitor this strategic resource.



Decade of under-replenishment risks aggregates supply squeeze (


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