Woodbury: Blackhill Quarry’s boost to wildlife earns praise at industry awards
PUBLISHED: 16:25 28 November 2017 | UPDATED: 16:25 28 November 2017
Aggregate Industries was awarded runner up and highly commended at the Mineral Product Association’s Biodiversity Awards 2017 for its restoration of Blackhill Quarry, near Woodbury; the event celebrates the best examples of quarry restoration and wildlife conservation in the UK.
The operator of Blackhill Quarry, near Woodbury, has been praised for its work restoring the site to encourage wildlife.
Aggregate Industries was awarded runner up and highly commended at the Mineral Product Association’s Biodiversity Awards 2017 for its restoration of the sand and gravel quarry; the event celebrates the best examples of quarry restoration and wildlife conservation in the UK.
The site is surrounded on three sides by the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths – a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Special Protection Area. (SPA) and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) - around 35 hectares of the site has now been restored to lowland heathland and open water habitats in an effort to encourage increased biodiversity.
Simon Wiltshire, biodiversity and restoration advisor at Aggregate Industries, 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.
“Heathland restoration is an ongoing operation, and the next phase of restoration is well underway. We hope that by continuing our management, supported by our partners, the diversity and abundance of species on the site, as well as overall habitat quality, will continue to improve in the existing areas.”
Heathland restoration included spreading indigenous topsoil and allowing natural regeneration and spreading heathland litter harvested from the surrounding habitats; an intensive programme of scrub clearance and grazing by Exmoor and Dartmoor ponies.
The quarry operator said there had been a ‘dramatic transformation’ at the site; species recorded since the restoration included nightjar, Dartford warbler, small red damselfly and the silver studded blue butterfly. The common lizard and adder were regularly recorded. Great crested newts were found for the first time in 2017 after breeding ponds were created by extracting minerals.
The judges who visited the site said: “The high quality of the restored habitat and evidence on-site of the return of key heathland plants and invertebrates was very impressive.
“The right decisions have been taken from the outset to develop habitat with a range of niches to host a rich species community.
“The project represents an important addition to the local habitat network and to the ecological resilience of the landscape as a whole.”