Materials are anything that can be classed as primary production, such as agricultural crops, fishing, forestry or minerals extraction. These materials are identified by the UK Total Material Resource Flows (TMR) study (Bringezu & Shutz, 2001). Materials, as defined in the TMR study, are included under Standard Industrial Classifications 1, 2, 5, 10, 11, 13 and 14 (see Appendix 2).

Main data sources

  • British Geological Survey United Kingdom Minerals Yearbook 2001 (BGS, 2002)
  • British Geological Survey Collation of the results of the 2001 Aggregate Minerals Survey for England and Wales (Highley et al., 2003).
  • Office for National Statistics Regional Trends 37 (ONS, 2001a).
  • Food & Agriculture Organisation United Kingdom Food Balance Sheet 2001 (FAO, 2002).

Data availability and quality

Overall data availability and quality for materials was surprisingly good. Most data was available in the appropriate unit (tonnes) and year (2001). Only forestry data was presented in thousands of cubic metres of over-bark standing, or in Wood of Raw Materials Equivalent (WRME). This data was converted to tonnes using conversion factors from ONS (Forestry Statistics 2003).

The main difficulty with materials data was its inconsistency in terms of regional boundaries. Most of the data was available on a national scale, but regional data for the South West was sparse. Data on agriculture, fishing and forestry was only available at national level, while mining and quarrying data was mostly available at regional level.

Calculations and proxy measures used

Total material consumption in the South West was estimated by combining agriculture, fishing, forestry, mining and quarrying. Due to varying sources and data consistency issues, different methods and proxies were applied.

Agriculture including fish

Detailed agricultural data was available from the United Kingdom Food Balance Sheets (FAO, 2002). Appendix 3 lists the categories of agricultural materials covered by the FAO. As the FAO does not provide data for agricultural consumption by UK sub-region, UK figures were proxied to derive figures for the South West. To make this more reliable, different proxies were used for different agricultural materials. Different proxies were also applied to production, imports and exports of agricultural materials, because production levels do not necessarily reflect import or exports.

The FAO calculation for total supplies of food was the same as that adopted by Best Foot Forward, and is the standard methodology agreed by the Biffaward Mass Balance programme (Biffaward, 2003). This is the formula for flow of materials:

Net supply (N) = Production (P) + Imports (I) + Stock changes (SK) – Exports (E)
N = P + I + SK – E

This example shows the calculation for Oats under the Cereals category of food materials provided by the FAO (2002):

Production UK (PUK) = 616 ('000 tonnes)
Imports UK (IUK) = 16 ('000 tonnes)
Stock changes UK (SKUK) = 59 ('000 tonnes)
Exports UK (EUK) = 171 ('000 tonnes)
  = 616 + 16 + 59 – 171
  = 520 ('000 tonnes)

This data was UK-specific and proxies were applied to scale the figures down to the South West. DEFRA's (2003c) agricultural survey indicated that of all cereal agricultural holdings (2,491,890 hectares) in the UK, 13% (332,823 hectares) were in the South West. This factor of 13% was applied to the UK's total production of cereal to give production in the South West (PSW):

PSW = PUK x Proxy
  = 616 * 13.36%
  = 82 ('000 tonnes)

Imports, stock and exports were proxied using economic data from the Integrated Economic Information System for the South West (Econ-I) (University of Plymouth, 2003), which allowed for a comparison of economic data (GVA and employment) between the South West and Great Britain. According to Econ-I, 495 people were employed by the grain milling and starch industry (SIC sector 15.6) in the South West in 2001, 3.6% of all UK employees in this sector. This factor was applied as a proxy to imports, stock and exports:

ISW = IUK x Proxy = 16 x 3.6% = 1
SKSW = SKUK x Proxy = 59 x 3.6% = 2
ESW = EUK x Proxy = 171 x 3.6% = 6

Net supply in the South West ( NSW ) is calculated from these figures:

  = 82 + 1 + 2 – 6
  = 79 ('000 tonnes)

The same proxying calculations were applied to all the FAO agricultural and fish materials. Appendix 4 gives the factors applied to each agricultural material. Fish data was extracted from agricultural materials and presented separately in the results section.


Data on forestry was obtained from the Compendium of Statistics About Woodland, Forestry and Primary Wood Processing in the United Kingdom (Forestry Statistics, 2003). Production data was available for softwood and hardwood in thousands of cubic metres of over-bark standing. Data was further broken down between Forestry Commission (FC) and non-FC woodland. Imports and exports of forestry materials were split between softwood and hardwood, in thousands of cubic metres of WRME (Wood of Raw Materials Equivalent) under bark.

Cubic metres of forestry materials were converted to tonnes (Forestry Statistics, 2003). UK data was proxied to South West level using employment factors (University of Plymouth, 2003). Approximately 5% of UK employees in the forestry industry are based in the South West, so this percentage was applied to the total amount of forestry materials consumed in the UK in 2001to give an estimate of wood materials produced in the South West.

Mining and quarrying

Two main sources supplied mining and quarrying data: the ONS (2001a) and the British Geological Survey (BGS, 2002 and Highley et al., 2003). Production, imports and exports data were available for the South West region. There were only a few cases where regional data was not available, including coal, lignite & peat, petroleum & natural gas, metal ores and other mining and quarrying.

Proxies were derived using employment and GVA data from the University of Plymouth (2003).

Data recommendations

  • Improved consistency of reporting regional figures: overall, materials data was easily accessible, but in some cases regional breakdowns were not consistently reported, for example the consumption of potash.

Due to the lack of primary data for the South West, particularly in the agricultural sector, this study had to rely on UK data sets and proxy measures. Primary regional data would be preferable.