The ALSF uses revenue from the Aggregates Levy to fund research projects targeted at reducing the impact of dredging upon the environment. The ALSF is made available by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and distributed by the governmental advisory bodies English Heritage, English Nature and the Countryside Agency in consultation with local authorities, interest groups and the aggregate industry.
In 2002 £35 million was allocated for an initial two-year pilot scheme, subsequently extended for a further three years. DEFRA carried out a policy review of the ALSF during 2006 to examine the extent to which the ALSF has met its objectives and whether the scheme should continue beyond 2007. The outcome of the review was that it was decided to continue the fund until 2011.
The English Heritage ALSF Programme focuses on the following main areas:
Developing the capacity to manage aggregate extraction landscapes in the future;
Delivering to public and professional audiences the full benefits of knowledge gained through past work in advance of aggregates extraction;
Reducing the physical impacts of current extraction where these lie beyond current planning controls and the normal obligations placed on minerals operators;
Addressing the effects of old mineral planning permissions;
Promoting understanding of the conservation issues arising from the impacts of aggregates extraction on the historic environment.
Research projects funded through the ALSF have so far contributed enormously to expanding our understanding of the marine historic environment, informing the EIA process and improving the effective management of the cultural heritage.