New project aims to give nature a home in quarries

New project aims to give nature a home in quarries

A multi million pound project to turn quarries into wildlife havens has been hailed by conservationists as a vital lifeline for nature.

Restore, a project financed by the EU's Interreg IVB North West Europe fund, will see €3.3m spent on creating priority habitats, turning spent mineral extraction sites into reedbeds, meadows, woodlands, and heathland. The extra funding comes as a host of sites across the UK have recently recorded species bouncing back as a result of restoration work.

A variety of insects, crayfish, otters and bitterns are just some of the species which are thriving in newly-created habitats and the new funding means conservationists and the minerals industry can do even more for wildlife in the future.

The recent State of Nature report, launched by Sir David Attenborough and 25 leading nature organisations revealed that 60 per cent of UK species are in decline. Loss of natural habitat was singled out as one of the biggest causes.

Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director, said: “The State of Nature report was a wake-up call for all of us that we need to do more for wildlife, and quarry restoration can really help us do that.

“In recent years the minerals industry and conservationists have forged a vital link and we have seen some truly inspiring work happen as a result. I have walked through wildlife havens alive with birds, butterflies and wild flowers where once there were diggers, excavations and conveyor belts. These transformations show that with the right expertise and dedication it is possible to bring wildlife back to our countryside, for all to enjoy.

“This money and the project it will support are vital if we are to carry that work on. I want to say thanks to the minerals industry for all that they have done for our wildlife so far – and I want to challenge them to go even further so we can turn even more of these sites around.”

Conservation successes on quarry sites include the recording of a rare spider-eating wasp, identified for the first time in England at the LafargeTarmac Sandy Heath quarry in Bedfordshire.

Numbers of breeding great crested newts are at record levels at ponds specifically created at Ryder Point quarry in Matlock, Derbyshire, worked by independent operator Longcliffe Quarries and member of the British Aggregates Association (BAA). Acknowledging this success, Peter Huxtable, BAA Secretary, said: “Our members are endeavoring to do their bit for nature. They recognize the great potential to create homes for nature on their sites.”

Ouse Fen in Cambridgeshire – a nature reserve being created from a Hanson quarry site – reported its first otter earlier this year and numbers of bitterns and marsh harriers are increasing on the reserve.

At Kemerton Lake in Worcestershire, a former sand and gravel extraction site, native white-clawed crayfish have been reintroduced by Buglife, the Invertebrate Conservation Trust. More individuals are set to be released into the lake this summer to help the species which has been decimated by the influx of invasive American crayfish in our lakes and rivers.

This summer has also seen increased sightings of the threatened small blue and grizzled skipper butterflies at restored Cemex quarry sites in Warwickshire.

Nigel Jackson, Chief Executive of the Mineral Products Association (MPA), said: “This funding is a great development. MPA members do a fantastic job working to restore sites for wildlife and collaborate with partners on all fronts, at home and overseas.

“Together, we can help reverse the decline in biodiversity by creating priority habitat and providing vital footholds for endangered species. The minerals industry is in a unique position to be able to make a difference.”

The Restore project will see the RSPB, Surrey County Council and five other partners from across northwest Europe coming together to work collaboratively and invest in demonstration sites which show what can be achieved for nature through appropriate and sustainable quarry restoration.

A new online interactive map will be created to help the minerals sector plan restorations within the context of neighbouring nature conservation designated areas. The scheme will also help local planning authorities develop better policies to encourage restoration for biodiversity. The project will be officially launched at a reception at the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining in London on September 25.

- Ends -

For further information and to arrange an interview, please contact:

Nik Shelton, RSPB media officer: 01767 693554 Out of hours: 07739 921464.

Broadcast-quality radio interviews:

To arrange an ISDN broadcast-quality radio interview please contact Nik Shelton at the RSPB press office.

Editor’s notes:

1. The RSPB is the UK’s largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. We play a leading role in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations.

2. The State of Nature report was launched in May by 25 leading wildlife organisations. It found that 60% of the species studied have declined over recent decades. More than one in ten of all the species assessed are under threat of disappearing from our shores altogether. For full details visit -

3. The RESTORE project is made up of 7 partner organisations, with the RSPB acting as the lead partner and incorporating much of its on-going work under the Nature After Minerals programme (a partnership between the RSPB and Natural England).

The RESTORE project partners are:

RSPB, Surrey County Council, VLM – the Flemish Land Agency, Limburg Province – regional government in the Netherlands, ILS – an economics institute based in Dortmund, ENCI Development Foundation – associated with the HeidelbergCement Group in the Netherlands - and IKL – a landscape conservation trust in Limburg.

Partners will be looking to engage with stakeholders in and around the minerals industry both in the UK and throughout northwest Europe.

INTERREG IVB NWE is a financial instrument of the European Union's Cohesion Policy. It funds projects (through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)) which support transnational cooperation. The aim is to find innovative ways to make the most of territorial assets and tackle shared problems of Member States, regions and other authorities.

4. 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 and 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:

5. BAA is the recognised voice of the UKs independent and SME aggregates sector with 110 members of which over 70 are quarry operators representing 13% of national output and with nearly 300 active quarry sites.


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