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Minister praises project to RESTORE sites for nature

Last modified: 10 June 2015

Bugs-eye view of wet meadow in flower

Image: David Kjaer

Representatives from mineral operating companies, consultancies, NGOs, statutory agencies, government departments and planning authorities have gathered together for the first time to discuss the mineral industry’s role in restoring sites for nature conservation and biodiversity.

The event, which took place on Wednesday 27 May, was organised by the RESTORE project, with support from the Quarry Products Association Northern Ireland. RESTORE is a partnership project financed by the EU's Interreg IVB North West Europe fund, and led by the RSPB, and aims to assist the restoration of mineral extraction sites into priority habitats in Northern Ireland, elsewhere across the UK and wider North West Europe.

The event looked to inspire discussion among the industry about mineral site restoration, and to celebrate the work undertaken through RESTORE, with the Northern Ireland Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan MLA, publically recognising the innovative work already achieved through RESTORE’s work with the minerals industry.

Minister Durkan said “Too many people still think that creating a better environment means weakening our economy, but the evidence presented here today proves that to be untrue. The environment is the engine of the economy and is at the heart of our well-being.

“Together we have a joint responsibility to protect that environment. With a little foresight and planning, these habitats can be maintained and developed to encourage wildlife to thrive alongside successful commercial operations. I hope that there will be many more examples of industry and nature conservation bodies working together in the coming years.”

The afternoon included a visit to Brackagh Quarry near Draperstown (owned by Creagh Concrete), where attendees saw first hand the possibilities of best practice restoration. Creagh Concrete has already restored areas of blanket bog, wet heath and wet grassland.

Jason Bowman, Quarry Manager for Lafarge Tarmac, who attended the event said: “As a quarry manager this is an essential responsibility that unfortunately - but not intentionally - falls to the bottom of the list of things to do. This event has given me the encouragement to take biodiversity more seriously when planning restoration.”

Sean Woods from the RESTORE Project added: “Quarry sites can play a huge role in nature conservation. There is a great opportunity to both manage and restore sites, providing homes for some of our most threatened species.

“So far, the RESTORE project has worked with ten quarry sites in Northern Ireland, advising operators on the possible actions they can take to provide priority habitats on their sites, but this event showed that there is an interest and a willingness within the industry as a whole to help protect nature in Northern Ireland.”

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