Quarries may be returned to agriculture with little, if any, sign that they have ever been worked. Alternatively, they also often offer long-term opportunities to create new environments that benefit both people and wildlife. We have a build a reputation for a thoughtful approach to after-use which means that former workings are not simply allowed to fill with water. If water has a place in the restoration, lakes are carefully sculpted with islands, differing water levels and surrounding planted land areas to create diverse environments for a range of species. Fisheries may also be an opportunity, providing enjoyment and access to superb countryside for many people.
The Lower Windrush Valley Project was set up in the 1990s by Oxfordshire County Council and West Oxfordshire District Council, with the aim of developing a co-ordinated environmental strategy for the Lower Windrush valley which has been and continues to be, extensively worked for minerals.
The project works closely with mineral operators, landowners and the community to co-ordinate, implement and help manage projects that improve the landscape, biodiversity and public access of the project area.
The valley comprises 28km2 of West Oxfordshire, incorporating the flood plain of the River Windrush between Witney and its confluence with the Thames at Newbridge. Smiths' Gill Mill gravel pit is a key operation within the area.
Smiths has made significant financial donations to the project, and worked closely with project officers, both as mineral operator and landowner in the valley. It has also procured land to form part of the long-distance footpath along the Windrush between Witney and the Thames, the completion of which is a key objective of the project.