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Perceptions of the industry
There is a widespread assumption in the industry that the 'public'
has a generally negative view of the industry. This appears to be generally
echoed by press coverage - one only has to contrast the response from
the press to a proposal to extend a quarry compared with a similar plan
say to build a new factory.
To some extent however, public promotion/educational events at quarries
over the last decade or so have achieved good coverage and rising environmental
standards in the industry appear to have somewhat reduced negative reporting.
Furthermore, in more recent years, there appears to have been some
transfer of adverse media treatment from the aggregates sector, to parts
of the other extractive industry (e.g. building stone producers), but
without a survey of the nature of press coverage, it is difficult to
be dogmatic on this point. Almost all views are anecdotal. Such studies
of public perception of the industry that have been conducted have been
of limited extent or privately commissioned, not reported in full and
as far as is known, the results are not in the public domain.
By very many commentators, it is taken as read that quarrying industry
still operates to relatively poor environmental standards. Even the
quarry community recognises that the 'public perceptions of our industry
are all too often negative' - Simon van der Byl, Director General QPA.
In the QPA's advice to members on building relationships with local
communities, he goes on to comment that such views are out of date in
the context of advances in environmental standards over the last 20
years and that this situation is particularly frustrating for the industry.
In addition to the many environmental improvements in the industry,
there has been a distinct change of tone within the industry. The following
is an indication of this change. About 10 years ago, during a course
in Community Relations, the manager of an inner city asphalt plant indicated
that his response to the public and especially school children, was
to keep a Rottweiler in the yard. By the late 1990s, that company was
investing considerable amounts in the preparation of educational materials,
public open days and in hosting school visits.
Whereas numerous references are made to 'public concerns over the environmental
impact of quarrying, particularly traffic, dust and noise', e.g. in
an MPG11 consultation paper by DETR (2000), a Groundwork study for DoE(1991)
and many publications by environmental bodies such as CPRE, very few
attempts have been made to gauge systematically, public perceptions
of the industry. Studies by Hertfordshire County Council and the Sand
and Gravel Association in the early 1990s suggested that most members
of the public had no hard views on sand and gravel working, very few
indeed were directly affected and that traffic was the most widespread
Logically, one would expect most complaints about dust, noise and blasting
to arise within a few hundred metres of a site, whereas offending traffic
could be registered over a radius of several kilometres. Concerns about
landscape intrusion could be voiced both locally and much further afield,
e.g. by environmental pressure groups. Examination of complaints logged
by one company in 2001 and 2002 indicate a great variation from year
to year in some categories and no clear differentiation between the
main causes of concern apart from traffic receiving the lowest number
and blasting, the highest
Further information is given in Appendix
Views of other stakeholders
The survey of company educational initiatives for the EUAS Report also
took readings from others including planners and the educational (particularly
In summary, most mineral and chief planners were extremely keen to
promote educational links, these being seen as valuable and legitimate
means of contributing to the local community. They generally welcomed
inclusion of educational facilities in planning applications and many
were very keen to offer examples of good practice to the researchers
preparing this report. In the case of Cornwall County Council, the minerals
plan actually includes a policy encouraging educational uses of mineral
sites; Essex and Lancashire County Councils both operate 'good site
award' programmes, in which education features, in one case being one
of the explicit criteria.
Surveys of teachers, adult/continuing education and university lecturers
were almost totally positive about relationships with operators. These
were almost all in the context of organising visits to sites and in
particular, relating to geology, Earth and environmental sciences. However,
a fair proportion did point out that relationships had improved greatly
over the last 6-7 years. There was now a better understanding of the
industry/academic situation by both parties and especially operational
and increased safety aspects.
See also Education Section.
Views expressed in Educational textbooks
The government supported Council for Science and Technology (2002),
survey of 576 science teachers, indicated they used textbooks as their
source 'often'. More closely related to the subject in hand, the survey
of KS3 school science teachers by King (2001), indicated that they relied
on information to underpin their Earth science teaching to a considerable
degree upon text books; c37% upon KS3 science text books and c43% upon
other general science text books.
From these findings, it can reasonably be assumed that text books,
particularly those produced by well established publishers, probably
have a profound influence in shaping the opinions and perceptions of
teachers of externalities such as specific industries.
Most text books can be assigned to one of two main categories:
1. General or reference materials
2. Texts suitable for class sets - set books adopted by a school or
teacher for a particular course.
The cost, content, quality, relevance to exam specifications, need
to establish a standard scheme and LEA school or departmental policy
and teacher views all usually influence the choice of set book. As a
result, there is a high level of competition from the now relatively
limited number of publishers in this field, the main houses being, Cambridge,
Pearson, Longman, Oxford, Nelson Thornes, Hodder/Murray.
It was therefore considered appropriate to conduct a short survey of
school textbooks in an attempt to gauge the coverage of the quarrying
industry. This was conducted in January 2004, of the main texts then
in print. The nature of that investigation cannot claim to be statistically
robust (the population is far too small and time was limited). Neither
was it feasible to search the whole of each text (many books extent
to 200 pages or more). Instead after initially scoping various science
texts, it was observed that virtually all references to quarrying were
to be found in chemistry texts or sections of texts and in particular
those parts dealing with lime or limestone. So this provided the main
focus for the search, which was restricted to GCSE/AS/A level material.
The NC requires teachers at KS 2-4 science, to take into account environmental
effects of science and technology and to do this in a balanced form
(at KS4 recognising that different groups have different views).
Sixteen textbooks were examined the results of which are set out in
- All made references to the use of limestone
- Nine made reference to the quarrying versus environment debate,
of which seven contained detailed treatment.
- A few were out of date or in error in matters of detail.
- Where the issue was treated, most did so in a balanced way but the
total coverage given was generally slight and almost always missed
some vital pros and cons (contrast this for example with the JESEI
web site Limestone Inquiry exercise)
- Some references were unfortunate in not properly representing normal
current environmental practice.
- One reference (to a quarter of the Peak District limestone outcrop
being worked out in a lifetime) was unbelievably misleading.
Bearing in mind the increasing role of geography in delivering the
Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), a comparable survey of
geography texts was contemplated, but could not be conducted within
the timetable of this report.