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Hundred of jobs at risk as Ulster counts the cost of aggregates tax

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UP TO ONE thousand jobs could be lost if Northern Ireland quarries do not win a further rebate from the aggregates tax.

Research by the Quarry Products Association Northern Ireland (QPANI) has revealed that more than 100 jobs have been lost or are about to be lost from 26 of its member companies.

Eleven firms said they had had to cut jobs since the tax was introduced in April 2002.

So far, 52 jobs have been lost since the introduction of the levy, with a further 53 likely to go from seven firms. A further 127 jobs are predicted to be lost from eight firms if the derogation is not won.

Gordon Best, QPANI general manager, said there were fears that job losses in industries associated with quarrying could raise the job loss total to 1,000.

He said: 'These figures are only estimates.

Companies based near the border have told me that if we do not win the 10-year derogation then they are going to move their production south of the border.'

Aggregate giant Readymix, which has 12 depots in the region, is expecting to lose the most jobs, with 90 workers predicted to go.

QPANI is campaigning for a further 10year derogation from the tax to offset the effects of cheaper aggregates coming from the Republic of Ireland.

Previous surveys carried out by the association have shown that business has fallen off for quarries near the border by up to 60 per cent.