Biodiversity Award for Oxfordshire Quarrying Company
An Oxfordshire-based quarry operator has been rewarded by the Mineral Products Association (MPA) for its substantial commitment to the cause of biodiversity.
Smith & Sons (Bletchington) Ltd was one of four of smaller and medium-sized operators to receive special awards at MPA’s Building on our legacy … realising our potential event in London today (19 October). The company’s head office is at Enslow and it has a major sand and gravel quarry at Gill Mill, Ducklington, near Witney.
At the same event, Smiths also won a commendation in the Natural England Biodiversity Awards for its newly-opened Rushy Common Nature Reserve which has been restored as part of the ongoing operation at Gill Mill.
The biodiversity commitment award was presented to Andrew Smith, Joint Managing Director, and Martin Layer, Estates Manager at Smith & Sons (Bletchington) Ltd, by MPA Chief Executive Nigel Jackson who said: “Smiths’ commitment to biodiversity is clearly evidenced by the excellent work the company has carried out at Rushy Common Nature Reserve. Their restoration of the site has enhanced biodiversity by creating a mosaic of new habitats that includes grassland, thorn scrub, ditch areas, species rich native hedgerow, a lake and two ponds. The site significantly benefits the local community and wildlife.”
In addition to its conservation work at Gill Mill, Smiths is closely involved in the Lower Windrush Valley Project which is creating greatly increased public access. It is also working closely with the Oxford-based charity Pond Conservation on pioneering work which will see ponds incorporated into many more quarry restorations across the UK.
Helen Phillips, Chief Executive Natural England, told guests: “There are countless inspiring examples of what happens when restoration and conservation are planned into the early stages of mineral extraction and the Minerals Products Association Awards are a great way of highlighting the efforts that have been made. I am delighted to be able to recognise the commitment, knowledge and enthusiasm for wildlife shown by the high standard of entries and the dedication shown by so many of MPA’s members.”
The Mineral Products Association (MPA) represents around 90 per cent of the mineral products industry. Its members manage or control an area of land of over 115 square miles - equivalent to a small National Park. This includes at least two National Nature Reserves, 22 local nature reserves, 15 field study and education centres and 13 nature trails. The RSPB estimates that the industry could, on its own, deliver UK biodiversity targets for nine out of 11 priority habitats.
Other figures revealed during the event included:
With 1,300 active sites across the UK, 56,000 hectares of the minerals industry estate is potentially suitable for restoration to priority habitats as defined in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP).
The industry is leading the way in restoring the population of the previously declining bittern by “hosting” 15 per cent of the UK’s breeding pairs in reed beds created following quarrying22 minerals sites have to date been certified by the externally assessed Wildlife Trusts Biodiversity Benchmark.
Operators are now routinely creating, and committing to long-term management of threatened habitats, making a significant contribution to delivering national and local biodiversity action plan targets.