The Mineral Products Association (MPA) ‘Quarries & Nature 2017 – Appreciating Assets’ event took place on Thursday 19th October at The Royal Society, London and was presented by BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today presenter, Sybil Ruscoe.
Expert speakers included a number of current issues related to nature conservation. They were Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive of the Wildlife Trusts, Professor Steve Ormerod, Cardiff Professor of Ecology and until recently Chairman of RSPB and Tom Butterworth Associate Director of WSP.
The MPA’s 46th Awards recognised exceptional practice and showcased some of the best examples of quarry restoration and wildlife conservation anywhere in Europe.
Raymond Brown were presented as winners of the Biodiversity – Planned Restoration category by Sir Desmond Swayne MP who praised the restoration work and entrepreneurial spirit of the business.
The award was for Brickworth Quarry, where Raymond Brown recently gained permission for an extension to an existing operation. The area to be quarried is currently commercial coniferous plantation, but it was originally broadleaved woodland and the soil carries a rich seed bank. A robust handling strategy has been designed which relies on moving soils only once, using direct placement to the area of restoration.
The judges were impressed with the carefully planned removal of the conifer plantation, the management and conservation of ancient woodland soils and the planting of native trees to deliver a net gain in broadleaved woodland habitat.
In words of the County Ecologist who considered the planning application, “The total area of woodland within the restored site will be substantially increased. Areas of habitat creation will benefit species like bats, dormice, great crested newts, birds and reptiles.”
Commenting, Nigel Jackson, Chief Executive of the MPA said: “Once again MPA members’ have demonstrated what an environmentally responsible industry can do to both protect existing and create new habitats. We could not be more proud to showcase what can be achieved by an industry that is uniquely placed to make a net gain to biodiversity.”
Rob Westell, Estates & Planning Director at Raymond Brown commented: “We are extremely proud to win this award which is testament to the hard work of a small group of people and it is a great achievement for Raymond Brown to be on the same stage as the big multinational extraction companies in the UK. The new planning permission at Brickworth Quarry will ensure transformation of a conifer plantation to broadleaved woodland, providing enhanced habitat for a wide range of species, while protecting a valuable soil resource.”