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The UK’s MPA celebrates restoration and biodiversity

World Cement,

This week, the UK Mineral Products Association (MPA) held the Restoration and Biodiversity Awards at the Royal Society in London. The event, which had the theme 'Realising the Potential...Progress and Partnership', celebrated and shared excellence in restoration and biodiversity enhancement and highlighted the value of working in partnership. Almost 200 delegates attended, including more than 50 environmental and other stakeholder organisations, along with those from industry, Government departments, academia and local authorities.

DEFRA Minister, Lord de Mauley, 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.”

DEFRA Minister, Lord de Mauley.

Several speakers from nature conservation groups addressed delegates, highlighting how they are working in partnership with the mineral products 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.

“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,” added Stephanie Hilborne OBE, The Wildlife Trusts’ Chief Executive.

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

Nigel Jackson, Chief Executive MPA, stated: “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 is uniquely placed to benefit nature, its legacy is growing, its potential is being realised and now we hope that this is being recognised.”

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.

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 commended. Here, 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.

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.

Hanson UK’s Upper Nene Valley Gravel Pits, overall winner of the Landscape Scale Restoration category, in association with Natural England, in the MPA Biodiversity Awards. Hanson UK entered the site with Richard Hordle and Tony Rogers.

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.

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. Around 60 t of rock was 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.

Adapted from press release by Louise Fordham

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