As we step out of the winter months and begin to see the first signs of spring, it's a reminder of how lucky I have been to spend my life working in an industry that plays a crucial role in the environment surrounding us. The annual cycle of life that emerges within upcoming months emphasises our responsibility to maintain the environment for future generations.
The UK Government has recently launched the ‘Environmental Improvement Plan’, which demonstrates a clear shared agenda to protect nature for the next 25 years. Globally, commitments such as the Climate Change Conference (COP) series and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) have also committed to improving environmental practices. As an industry, we must follow suit.
In terms of restoration projects, there have been many great examples of the industry delivering additional value to landscapes and local communities following the closure of operational sites. Projects celebrated through the Mineral Products Association’s (MPA) Quarries and Nature awards have always been an inspiration of what can be achieved. Together, we can showcase our ambitions and contributions towards a greener future.
I am particularly proud to be President of an Institute with green initiatives such as the Emerald challenge. Launched last month, the challenge was created to develop new ideas and concepts in restoration and sustainability. It is a fantastic opportunity for members to seek funding for a wide range of projects and I'd like to encourage you to get involved.
The Institute of Quarrying’s (IQ) planned ‘Centre of Excellence’ at the National Stone Centre will also provide many opportunities to demonstrate the sector’s achievements in restoration and support the innovations that deliver better outcomes for the future.
Support has been continued for IQ members when it comes to environmental topics. Presentations in areas such as Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) provide valuable insights into how landscapes can be naturally recovered. Our support for members extends to guidance across core underpinning elements in restoration; from sound geotechnical planning and the handling of soils, to planting schemes. All of these topics have been delivered via training sessions and technical events that support continuing professional development (CPD). Many of the events and accompanying resources can be accessed on the IQ Connect app and IQ’s YouTube channel.
IQ also continues to work with stakeholders in the UK and internationally, striving to produce content on sustainable practices, which supports the wider sector in meeting targets and environmental commitments.
As for more personal ambitions, I look forward to attending many meetings across the industry and continuing conversations with IQ members. Nationwide branch meetings and CPD events offer a fantastic networking opportunity. It has been a pleasure sharing stories and memories of our industry with many members already. I am sure there are many yet to be discovered.