A new tunnel and processing plant at Cemex’s Taffs Well Quarry near Cardiff was officially opened by Jane Davidson, Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing, Welsh Assembly. The tunnel and plant represent an investment of over £14million and will prolong the life of the quarry by 20 years.
The quarry provides approximately 1Mt of limestone every year which is used within a 10 mile radius for building and construction projects such as the M4 motorway and the new Cardiff shopping complex.
In 2006 work started on the new 200m, two lane tunnel which has been blasted through the rock face in the south east corner of the quarry. It has been designed to take all the lorries and traffic off the minor roads running alongside the quarry and through the nearby village of Pentyrch. The tunnel exits straight onto the major road network.
For the drivers, their journey is 2 miles shorter and with over 200 lorries travelling to and from the site every day, it means a substantially savings in time and fuel.
The idea for a tunnel was first muted over two decades ago but required careful consideration as the 60 hectare site has a rich heritage. Majestic beech woodland flank the quarry on three sides and with its rich variety of flora and fauna the site was given Special Area of Conservation by the EU in 2005.
“We are committed to preserving this wonderful environment for future generations, while responsibly providing materials to build roads, hospitals, and homes to meet local community needs,” comments Andy Spencer, CEMEX UK Sustainability Director.
The site also contains Lesser Garth Cave, which contained evidence of hearths and bones of animals dating to the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age, and is home to species of protected bats, a rare breed of spider, sand martins and currently a pair of breeding peregrine falcons.
In 2008, further investment was made in a new processing plant sited in the bowl of the quarry. The plant takes the blasted rock and crushes it into different sizes of aggregate. The old plant, which was visible in Cardiff 6 miles away, has been removed from the skyline.