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Quarries & Nature

Uniquely placed to benefit nature

The mineral products industry has a long legacy of high-quality restoration and is uniquely placed to protect and enhance UK biodiversity, including rare and threatened species. High standards of site management coupled with imaginative restoration and after-use strategies will contribute significantly to the achievement of the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

  • To date MPA Members have recorded the creation of over 8,000ha of priority habitat and have a further 11,000ha planned.
  • MPA has identified two national nature reserves, 22 local nature reserves, 15 field study and educational centres and 13 nature trails within land controlled by its members.
  • MPA members manage or control and area of land totalling over 155 square miles – equivalent to a National Park of the size of the Norfolk Broads
  • The RSPB says that the industry can single-handedly deliver nine priority habitat targets in England

The MPA aims to protect and enhance biodiversity and deliver net gain wherever possible. The MPA Biodiversity Strategy seeks to realise this potential. It is built around an action plan that includes extending our knowledge of how best to manage the potential, sharing best practice amongst members, developing partnerships with conservation organisations, and running a Biodiversity awards scheme for our members.  We will also set out to understand how we can contribute to local biodiversity targets, increase our influence with policy makers and promote biodiversity education.

MPA’s National Nature Park

Nature conservation and the development of public spaces are high on the industry’s agenda. MPA has devised an interactive map which highlights MPA’s National Nature Park - former quarries and other former industrial locations returned to nature and with public access, which are now considered of special interest to nature conservationists and members of the public.

More information on MPA's National Nature Park. 

Net gain

MPA is engaging with Natural England and Defra (and others) on the approach to biodiversity net gain and the ‘metric’ to measure this. The approach and metric were developed primarily for housing and infrastructure, and we are engaged with Natural England and Defra to ensure that this will also reflect and work for minerals extraction, recognising:

  • Minerals can only be worked where they naturally occur;
  • The scale of sites and operation (earth moving equipment) means there is routinely potential and actual delivery of large-scale biodiversity net gain on site (during but particularly following extraction and subsequent restoration);
  • Minerals extraction is temporary, with restoration including to biodiversity after-use being progressively delivered throughout the operation of a site, typically 10-25 year for sand & gravel, longer for hard rock);
  • Habitat creation of restored minerals sites could be used as an offset for other developments, but this needs to be factored in at the planning application (& restoration plan) stage to ensure ‘additionality’;
  •  To provide clarity over application to Review of Mineral Permission (ROMP) applications;
  • To reflect the specific mineral planning process and system, administered by Mineral Planning Authorities.

Working in partnership

The industry is an enthusiastic supporter of the Nature After Minerals (NAM) Programme, led by the RSPB and supported by Natural England. NAM's mission is to encourage operators to create nature-rich habitats as part of their restoration programmes. The MPA is an active member of the government’s Terrestrial Biodiversity Group.

We are proud to have Memorandums of Understanding with Bumblebee Conservation Trust and the Freshwater Habitats Trust. We are also partners with the Bat Conservation Trust.  We will nurture these relationships and develop others, in particular to be a ‘champion’ for species that are threatened and where minerals sites offer opportunities for their conservation.

MPA Restoration & Biodiversity Awards

Every 2 years we hold our Restoration and Biodiversity Awards to showcase best examples of biodiversity enhancement under the categories of ‘Landscape-scale’ (Lawton principles), ‘Innovation’ (specific measures over and above what is required), ‘Planned’ (not yet commenced) and ‘Individual Contribution’. There are short films of the amazing entries and winners to give you a flavour.  

Quarry Watch

'Quarrywatch' involves undertaking focused wildlife surveys of selected sites over selected days in order to build a much bigger picture of the range of species found on restored or active minerals sites, including rarities and specialists. Outputs include a list of species identified, community engagement, promotion and appreciation of the importance of restored quarries for wildlife. Local wildlife groups, individual enthusiasts and schools may assist in surveying, learning about and appreciating the wildlife that restored quarries host. 

For further reading, here are some articles from ‘Mineral Products Today:’