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Quarry Products

Quarrying ImageAsphalt keeps our feet (and wheels) safely on the ground.

To access guidance on the application of asphalt click here.

As the surface for some 95 per cent of our roads - as well for playgrounds, footways, car and lorry parking areas, airport runways and much more - it is uniquely versatile.

The asphalt industry produces approximately 20 million tonnes of asphalt every year.

While strength comes from the aggregates, the binding agent is normally an oil-based bitumen derived from crude oil. The composition is varied to suit the end use.

Asphalt materials have evolved in a variety of ways over many years, but the pace of product development over recent years has been rapid.

The current generation of modern asphalts offers a range of important properties that improve road safety, maximise road life and reduce maintenance.

Benefits include:

  • Reducing spray
  • Enhancing road safety by maintaining good skid-resistance
  • Reducing road noise
  • Improving ride comfort
  • Reducing hold-ups at road works through more rapid laying
  • Extending the life of a road and reducing major maintenance by providing stronger, longer-life roadbases.

In addition, the UK industry is driving towards the production and use of more sustainable and environmentally friendly asphalts, through increased use of recycled materials and targeting reductions in energy use by lowering mixture temperatures.


Asphalt plants are often situated in quarries but they may occasionally be 'satellite' plants in urban locations to serve a specific local market, or even temporary installations on a major road or airfield site.

The production process involves blending the aggregates and then heating them to a temperature suitable for coating with the bitumen binder.

For further information contact MPA's Malcolm Simms.

Information service:

MPA provides information and guidance on asphalt products through the Asphalt Information Service which is contactable via the main MPA telephone no:
+44 (0) 20 7963 8000 or by contacting

Click here to download asphalt guidance: Asphalt-Info-Logo

The Asphalt Information Service can provide on request a list of depots of MPA members that undertake asphalt contracting throughout the country. Requests should be made to the telephone number or email address above.

The impact of Europe:

Probably the most important change facing the UK asphalt industry and its customers in recent years has been the implementation of European Specifications for asphalt, its constituents, and methods of testing. This implementation process was completed in the UK for the beginning of 2008, but remains under ongoing review across Europe.

The process began on 1 January 2002 with introduction of the European specification for road bitumens (BS EN 12591) which introduced changes to the available bitumen grades and grade references. A guidance note on this was prepared at the time. To download a copy, click here.

The aggregates used in asphalt have also come under the scope of European Standards (since 1 January 2004), and in order to accommodate those changes at that time, it was necessary to change the material descriptions for the British Standard asphalts and macadams. In addition, the Highways Agency's Specification for Highway Works (published by The Stationery Office has also adopted these and other consequent changes (see for contact details for HA). General guidance on European Standards for aggregates for asphalt can be found here.

As far as asphalt is concerned, the ever-growing family of material test methods (EN 12697 series) for asphalt were published ahead of the various asphalt product mix specifications and conformity assessment procedures found in the EN 13108 series . It became a requirement for all EU states to implement the whole package of standards and withdraw all conflicting national standards on 1 January 2008. In the UK, this meant that BS594, BS4987 and parts of BS598 were all withdrawn and replaced by the European Standards. In the case of the asphalt mix specifications, these were substantially different in approach and detail to the traditional BSs that we were used to working with, although there was little, if any, change to the mix compositions that were used until that time.

BSI publishes a National Guidance Document BD6691 to interpret the requirements of the EN13108 series for implementation in the UK - along with PD6692 for asphalt test methods and BS594987 for installation of asphalt (to replace the Part 2s of BS594 and BS4987).

Guidance on how the Standards should be implemented in the UK was also produced by the industry and this is available for download from the table below, Bulletin 1 was published in June 2006, Bulletins 2 and 3 in July/August 2007.

Topics covered are:    
Bulletin 1 - June 2006 - Development on European Standards for Asphalt - approx 115kb Download PDF PDF downloadhelp
Bulletin 2 - August 2007 -Materials and Conformity
approx 165kb
Download PDF PDF downloadhelp
Bulletin 3 - July 2007 - Impact on Standards for Laying Asphalt
approx 111kb
Download PDF PDF downloadhelp
Powerpoint Slides from Regional Briefings - July to Sep 2007
approx 400 kb

Download PDF PDF downloadhelp

The most recent development in relation to Standards and Specifications has been the implementation of the Construction Products Regulation on 01 July 2013. While the introduction of Harmonised European Standards was initially addressed under the Construction Products Directive, the upgrade to a Regulation has brought with it additional considerations. Not least of these is the compulsory requirement for asphalt producers to CE Mark their products when placed on the market. (The UK chose to pre-empt this move by voluntarily CE Marking asphalt back in 2008). Further guidance on the impacts of CE Marking under the CPR is found here.

Education, training and competence:

Quarrying Image Quarrying Image

In September 2013, the annual residential course in Asphalt Materials and Flexible Pavements, achieved the landmark of being held for 40 consecutive years at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in conjunction with MPA and its predecessor trade associations. The Course- traditionally takes place in the first full week of September after the late August Bank Holiday.

The Course remains at the forefront of training for asphalt technology and the syllabus is annually reviewed and amended to keep the course both topical and relevant to the needs of industry and specifier participants alike.

Full details and booking are available online via the University:

The UK asphalt industry has been committed to improving workforce competence for many years. For example, its commitment to the National Highways Sector Schemes for asphalt production and laying have supported improvements in product compliance and performance. Further formalisation of competency requirements within these Schemes is under ongoing development and review.


The Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), is a promotional body formed through partnership between MPA Asphalt and the Eurobitume UK ( AIA's promotional activity is very important on the sector Agenda and has significantly raised the profile of the need for Government to invest in highways infrastructure, and particularly in its maintenance. AIA publishes the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) Survey and is a focal point for media contact on the issues which extend further than simply "potholes". The latest report can be found here. More information on the work of AIA can be found at MPA and its predecessor Associations have carried out collaborative research with its upstream bitumen supplies (Eurobitume UK Members) and its downstream customer (Highways Agency) for several decades. The majority of the work has been carried out at the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and most reports will be available to download for FREE from its website - This joint effort in deriving and delivering innovation across the sector has enabled, for example, the accelerated adoption of materials, specifications and best practice guidance for the UK market. By delivering research needs in collaboration, there is generally more chance that outcomes are acceptable, reasonable and practical for implementation.

Click on the logo left to access the AsPECT carbon footprint calculator.




MPA is also involved in liaison and co-operation with other Client Bodies, such as ADEPT, EA, LG TAG and DIO as well as the recently formed UK Pavement Liaison Group (UK PLG).  This includes co-hosting events, such as “Fit for the Future”. Click here for details of the latest event.

An important recent collaboration with ADEPT produced a guide on “Service life of asphalt materials for the purposes of asset management”. This is designed to assist asset managers unfamiliar, or without verifiable data, to make reasonable assumptions on the life of asphalt materials when developing Asset Management Plans and strategies. The guide can be found here.

MPA is a founder-member of the European Asphalt Pavement Association, whose own website can be accessed at In a similar fashion to that in which MPA liaises on UK issues, so does EAPA with other European bodies.

Please note this website is maintained to provide information and guidance on UK issues, products and applications of those products.

MPA is a founder-member of the European Asphalt Pavement Association, whose own website can be accessed at

For more information on asphalt, please contact Malcolm Simms -, or phone us on 020 7963 8000

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