Quarrying's biodiversity boost

Thursday 17th October 2013

-	Hanson UK’s Upper Nene Valley Gravel Pits, overall winner of the Landscape Sca- Hanson UK’s Upper Nene Valley Gravel Pits, overall winner of the Landscape Scale Restoration category,

An area of priority habitats the equivalent of at least five 'Richmond Parks' has already been created on minerals sites, with this set to double as currently worked sites are restored.

This significant contribution to  nature conservation and biodiversity, was evidenced at the Mineral Products Association's (MPA) Restoration and Biodiversity Awards yesterday at the Royal Society in London.

More businesses need to learn how to go about investing in nature’s recovery and the creation of Living Landscapes, involving local communities all the way along

Nigel Jackson, Chief Executive MPA said,

“This fact might seem surprising to many people who do not associate our industry with biodiversity enhancement, but in fact the quarrying sector is very active on this front and uniquely placed to benefit nature.

“Once again our members have demonstrated how much good work they are doing to achieve high quality restoration and to protect and enhance biodiversity throughout the country.  The innovations and partnerships are delivering progress, priority habitats and assets locally and for the UK.  The industry’s legacy is growing and the potential is being realised and now we hope that it is being recognised.”

RSPB research indicates that mineral sites could meet 100% of the targets for nine out of 11 priority habitats previously identified in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP). The quarrying industry's biodiversity contribution, a unique differentiator and defining characteristic of the sector, was praised by DEFRA Minister, Lord de Mauley. 

He said: “These awards demonstrate the close relationship MPA and its members have built with wildlife organisations to enhance and protect biodiversity and will deliver a lasting legacy for wildlife.”

The event celebrated the excellent work MPA member companies are undertaking, showcasing some of the best examples of quarry restoration and wildlife conservation anywhere in Europe. 

Several speakers from nature conservation groups highlighted the value of working in partnership with the quarrying industry.  These included Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts; Paul Lambert, Executive Director, Natural England; Gill Perkins, Conservation Manager, Bumblebee Conservation Trust; and Jeremy Biggs, Director, Freshwater Habitats Trust.

Stephanie Hilborne OBE, The Wildlife Trusts’ Chief Executive, said:

“The Wildlife Trusts recognise that MPA members take their responsibility for nature very seriously and have an impressive track record of investing in wildlife habitats.  Few sectors have so many staff who are so genuinely committed to the natural environment.  And few companies can rival the strength of some of the partnerships we have built between minerals and wildlife charities.  Our complementary skills and expertise allow us to work in close partnership that generate real benefits for the environment and society.

“Now the wider corporate sector is beginning to recognise the value of natural capital, the MPA and its members have an opportunity and a responsibility to lead the way.  More businesses need to learn how to go about investing in nature’s recovery and the creation of Living Landscapes, involving local communities all the way along.  We need your continued support and commitment and as other businesses learn the ropes, we need the minerals sector to be pushing the boundaries further and building even more profound partnerships with organisations like The Wildlife Trusts.

"Given the pioneering role the minerals sector has played it seems appropriate to use the MPA’s Restoration & Biodiversity Awards to thank members for their genuine and continued commitment to wildlife.” 

Paul Lambert, Natural England Executive Director, said:

“The MPA’s commitment to restoring biodiversity and engaging with local communities is a shining example of what industry can do for people and for wildlife.

“The MPA and its members are uniquely placed to deliver for nature through their management and restoration of sites.  The Association is also uniquely placed to share their innovation and commitment with industry more widely.  We look forward to continuing our partnership with the MPA to help business to recognise the value of the natural environment.”

The Evidence - MPA Restoration Awards
MPA’s longstanding Restoration Awards have been recognising exceptional practice for over 40 years and the 2013 winner of the Cooper-Heyman Cup is Lafarge Tarmac's Ibsley Quarry, Hampshire.  This wonderful site for nature has been restored to a mix of open water conservation lakes, wetland and grassland. It has already won an award from the British Trust for Ornithology for attracting birds, and is particularly significant because of the way it fits into the wider strategies for the area in terms of landscape, ecology, biodiversity, access and restoration.

Ibsley Quarry

Hanson UK’s Pateley Bridge Quarry, North Yorkshire, in partnership with Nidderdale Visual Arts, Golder Associates, Nidderdale Plus and Harrogate Borough Council, is highly commended in the Restoration Awards and also won an MPA Special Award.  Hanson UK and Nidderdale Visual Arts commissioned the huge Coldstones Cut sculpture on a massive 92-hectare screening mound, which was created by moving over two million cubic metres of soil. The company also relocated large areas of high value grassland and created a series of ponds and a marsh area for amphibians. The restoration attracts over 30 species of nesting birds.

Lafarge Tarmac’s Threshfield Quarry, in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, is also highly commendedHere, the company has planted new trees, created three large ponds, rebuilt dry stone walls and created footpaths - much of the rest of the regeneration will happen naturally over time. Old lime kilns and other buildings are being retained in an area of the quarry that is being leased to a community group for arts, heritage and business uses. The vision is of a place that becomes a tourist venue within the national park.

The Evidence - MPA Biodiversity Awards
For the first time this year, MPA’s Biodiversity Awards had three categories: Landscape Scale Restoration, in association with Natural England; Innovation; and Individual Contribution. 

The winner of the Landscape Scale Restoration category is the Upper Nene Valley Gravel Pits in Northamptonshire entered by Hanson UK. With considerable help from Hanson UK’s network of operational and restored quarries in the area, it has been possible to create one of Europe’s newest Special Protection Areas for vulnerable bird species in this beautiful valley. A 16-mile long string of carefully managed wetlands has been created.

The runner-up of the Landscape Scale Restoration category is Bayston Hill Quarry, Shropshire, entered by Lafarge Tarmac and Shropshire County Council. Lafarge Tarmac has created a large new screening bank which also manages to incorporate 20 hectares of priority habitat on what was previously farmland. After only a short time in existence, the bank is making a major contribution to Shropshire’s biodiversity targets.

The winner of the Innovation category is Ardley North Quarry in Oxfordshire entered by Smith & Sons (Bletchington) Ltd with their landscape consultants, Environmental Solutions through Partnership (ESP) Ltd.  They used Pond Conservation’s ‘Aggregates Pond Creation Toolkit’ to adapt their restoration scheme in 2009. This included creating a series of overflowing ponds which vary in profile and not only attenuate surface water and reduce erosion, but also enhance biodiversity. The ponds offer many aquatic and marginal habitats for diverse species. Importantly, the ponds feed into a wider aquatic network through a specially created rock weir, cut into the limestone ridge of the geological SSSI with the permission of Natural England.

Ardley North

The runner-up in the Innovation category is Hanson UK’s Whiteball Quarry in Somerset. One of Whiteball Quarry’s ponds was developed as an 'Ark site for crayfish', a habitat for white-clawed crayfish, away from the threat of signal crayfish. Invertebrate and amphibian surveys of the area revealed five species of amphibians, including great crested newts (GCNs). Buglife submitted a paper to Natural England explaining that the introduction of white-clawed crayfish to the pond would not have a significant effect on the GCNs, and the crayfish translocation license was granted. 60 tonnes of rock were placed providing holes for crayfish refuge and breeding before they were released into the pond.

The winner of the Butterfield Trophy for Individual Contribution to Biodiversity Award is Phil Harding, Farms and Restoration Manager at Brett Group. His individual efforts have helped to deliver a long list of first class restoration and biodiversity projects and, with this, a continuous stream of awards. It is in no small part due to Phil that Brett has won the MPA’s prestigious Cooper-Heyman Cup for top class restoration no fewer than five times in his time with the company.

A full room of almost 200 delegates attended the event, which comprised over 50 environmental and other stakeholder organisations, along with those from industry, Government departments, academia and local authorities.  Sybil Ruscoe, an experienced journalist most recently associated with the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme, expertly hosted the proceedings. 

Notes for Editors
Click on the link below for MPA’s Restoration and Biodiversity Awards zone with information on the event and the winners, including case studies, photos, press releases and videos.


The Mineral Products Association (MPA) is the trade association for the aggregates, asphalt, cement, concrete, dimension stone, lime, mortar and silica sand industries. With the recent addition of The British Precast Concrete Federation (BPCF) and the British Association of Reinforcement (BAR), it has a growing membership of 465 companies and is the sectoral voice for mineral products. MPA membership is made up of the vast majority of independent SME companies throughout the UK, as well as the 9 major international and global companies. It covers 100% of GB cement production, 90% of aggregates production, 95% of asphalt and ready-mixed concrete production and 70% of precast concrete production. Each year the industry supplies £9 billion of materials and services to the £120 billion construction and other sectors. Industry production represents the largest materials flow in the UK economy and is also one of the largest manufacturing sectors. For more information visit: www.mineralproducts.org

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