A Cemex UK sand and gravel quarry in Northumberland, UK has been progressively restored and transformed into a 29 hectare nature conservation area, attracting over 50 species of birds including some red listed breeds such as Spotted Flycatcher and Lapwing.
The new Branton Nature Conservation Area is located in an area of beautiful open countryside designated as an Area of Great Landscape Value close to the hamlet of Branton and the Northumberland National Park. Prior to extraction the land, which lies within the flood plain of the River Breamish, was used for agriculture.
The site has been restored to enhance and complement the surrounding rural area and extraction provided an opportunity of transforming an intensively farmed landscape into a wildlife haven and local community amenity.
Dr Darren Moorcroft, Head of Conservation Delivery at the RSPB said We congratulate Cemex UK on the new conservation area at Branton. This provides much needed space for nature, and is an excellent example of what can be achieved by the quarry industry for wildlife and for local communities to enjoy.
The RSPB are pleased to have helped with the restoration through our partnership with Cemex UK, but equally are delighted with the involvement of local people, and with the opportunities it provides for involving school children in learning about their environment.
The main area of the site has been developed into two lakes, one with a nesting island. Around the lakes, a limited number of footpaths have been created to give access to walkers but with some areas left secluded for wildlife to live, thrive and breed. Different wildlife habitats have been provided such as owl nesting boxes, wet woodland and reedbeds to encourage a diversity of wildlife.
A bird hide has been erected by the western lake, donated by Northumberland National Park Authority, and frequently used by the North Northumberland Bird Group and local enthusiasts monitor the type and number of breeds of bird that live and visit the site. To date 55 species of birds such as Kingfishers, Grey Heron, Barn Owl and more endangered species such as Lapwings and Spotted Flycatcher have been seen.