Quarry tour reveals how it gets returned to nature

PUBLISHED: 11:00 05 June 2009 | UPDATED: 11:07 10 June 2010

In May, 40 members of the Otter Valley Association were given a unique opportunity to tour Bardon Aggregates Blackhill Quarry, led by John Fowler, quarry operations manager, and Toby Taylor, from the RSPB, before quarrying ceases later this year.

In May, 40 members of the Otter Valley Association were given a unique opportunity to tour Bardon Aggregates' Blackhill Quarry, led by John Fowler, quarry operations manager, and Toby Taylor, from the RSPB, before quarrying ceases later this year.

The quarry started life in the early 1930s, when it was worked totally by hand, today the plant is fully automated and processes sand for concrete, housebuilding and asphalt production, and crushes cobbles for chippings used in high performance road surfacing products. Cobbles, sand and gravel from the outcrop of the Budleigh Salterton Pebble Beds are taken to the processing plant where the aggregate is washed, crushed, size-graded, while the silt is screened out and pumped back into a pond

As each area is worked out, Toby Taylor from the RSPB, oversees its restoration back to heathland. Some of the original top soil is thinly spread to start the process of creating a rich habitat for wildlife. Nightjars, Dartford warblers and silver-studded blue and Grayling butterflies, among other plants and animals, are starting to colonise these areas. In a few years time, the former quarry site will merge into East Budleigh and Bicton Commons as beautiful heathland, adding to this important, endangered habitat to be enjoyed by us and the wildlife alike. The OVA presented a cheque for £100 to Toby towards the RSPB's restoration programme.

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