Aggregate Industries, operator of Blackhill Quarry near Exeter, has been awarded runner up for its restoration of the sand and gravel quarry at the Mineral Product Association’s Biodiversity Awards 2017.
This was in the Landscape Scale Category, sponsored by Natural England, for which it also awarded the title of ‘highly commended’.
These awards recognise the finest instances of quarry restoration and wildlife conservation in the UK.
Aggregate Industries has to restore quarries once extraction has finished to be a responsible operator; in the example of Blackhill Quarry, Aggregate went beyond the original planning requirements by creating a restoration scheme that promotes biodiversity
At this site, roughly 35 hectares have been restored to lowland heathland and open water habitats, designed to increase biodiversity on the site.
The aim of the heathland restoration on site has centred around spreading indigenous topsoil and allowing natural regeneration, along with spreading heathland litter harvested from the surrounding habitats.
The restoration has seen a significant transformation at the site, with species recorded on site including nightjar, dartford warbler, small red damselfly and the silver studded blue butterfly.
As well as all these creatures, the common lizard and adder are regularly spotted and great crested newts were found for the first time this year, thanks to breeding ponds created by extracting minerals.
In managing its restored land at Blackhill Quarry, Aggregate Industries has received support from the RSPB, who have provided expert knowledge and organised for local volunteers to carry out practical tasks.
This has provided Aggregate Industries with a fine opportunity to engage with local people about the benefits of quarry restoration in terms of wildlife, as well as discussing the wider issues of quarry operation and development in the area.
The judges who visited the site commented on the high standard of the restored habitat and the impressive evidence on-site of the return of key heathland plants and invertebrates and stated the project signifies a vital addition to the local habitat network and to the ecological resilience of the landscape.
Biodiversity and Restoration Advisor at Aggregate Industries, Simon Wiltshire, said: “Blackhill Quarry sits within the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so it’s our responsibility to restore the quarry so it reflects the wider landscape.
“We’re delighted that our efforts have been recognised by the Mineral Product Association’s Biodiversity Awards 2017, as this is a fantastic achievement and a testament to the hard work we have undertaken, with support from our partners.”
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