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Bearded tits in the sand pits

[fa icon="calendar"] Dec 8, 2016 11:57:22 AM / by Sarah Fry

Sarah Fry

IQ blog_langford.jpg

The news that bearded tits have been bred for the first time in Nottinghamshire has caused a few childish reactions in the IQ office. Despite the smutty humour behind the name of these pretty little creatures, the story behind the announcement demonstrates how the quarrying industry actively works with the natural environment with far reaching benefits.

These distinctive birds are dwindling in numbers across the UK and the new breeding site is the innovative wetlands development at Langford Lowfields, a sand and gravel site in Nottinghamshire owned by Tarmac. The Langford project first came to our attention when we were working on the water management factsheet.

There are several leisure sites across the county that are former quarries for example, Attenborough Nature Center and Holme Pierrepoint Country Park, however Langford Lowfields is an operational site. Since opening, Langford quarry has produced between 400,000 and 500,000 tonnes of high quality alluvial sand and gravel per annum.

The progressive restoration is planned as the extraction of the land is moved from one area of the site to another. In 2015, the site was granted planning permission to extract a further 1.4 million tonnes which in time will also be restored to wetlands.

The restored areas of the quarry are now home to large areas of reedbed, fringed with species-rich grassland and scrub, whilst the silt-settling lagoons have the future potential to develop into wet woodland. High quality restoration, combined with careful aftercare management of habitat and water levels, has meant that Langford Lowfields has become a haven for wetland wildlife.

This joint project between Tarmac and the RSPB is a fantastic example of what the quarrying industry contributes to the ecological biodiversity of managed environments – whether the site is active or being restored at the end of its productive life.

We cant help but think that whilst the success of this project is down to the commitment and dedication of the individuals involved, the fact that the site is in Nottinghamshire is also a positive asset. This part of the country is particularly well-suited to sand and gravel operations which make excellent wetland environments when returned to nature.

Sand and gravel deposits generally exist because of the erosion that takes place through rivers and glaciation. Nottinghamshire is home to the 3rd longest river in the UK, the Trent, and as explained in the IQ Guide to Geology, glaciation means that as glaciers move through an area they wear away the local country rock to create sand and gravel.

According the Nottinghamshire and Nottingham Local Aggregates Assessment April 2015, Nottinghamshire is the largest sand and gravel producing area of the East Midlands thanks to the Trent and Idle valleys. There are 12 permitted sand and gravel site in Nottinghamshire though only 10 are being worked currently.

Sand and gravel is mostly associated with concrete production and the deposits in Nottingham benefit from high levels of quartzite meaning that it can meet the specifications for higher strength concretes. The sand and gravel deposits in Nottinghamshire date back to the Pleistocene period (approximately 2.6 million – 11.7 thousand years ago).

Topics: Factsheets

Sarah Fry

Written by Sarah Fry

Business Development and Communications Manager at IQ