Thursday, 24 October 2013

Blackhill Quarry - part of our new "National Nature Park"

Sounds like big news! You'd think this would be in all the local papers; and news of a new "National Nature Park" would be in all the nationals. It's quite a claim by the Mineral Products Association:
The MPA has launched its new National Nature Park - a nationwide network of quarries that have been restored for wildlife and which are accessible to the public. The online resource includes 50 sites around the country totalling 4,000 hectares, with a range of facilities including nature trails, viewing hides and visitor centres. This is a web based concept which at launch highlights 50 sites around the country where our members can provide public access to sites where we have proven restoration success and biodiversity achievements.
On the face of it, this sounds like a great idea - the more quarries returned to nature and public access the better. But this National Park is a "web based concept", an "online resource", which is different to most people's idea of a National Park. And of course, 4000 hectares is merely a small fraction of the 45,000 hectares with quarrying permission and the thousands more hectares lying derelict, unrestored or brownfield. The size of the Peak District National Park by comparison is 143,700 ha.

But where the concept really falls apart is when you look more closely at one of these 50 sites. Our very own Aggregate Industries' Blackhill Quarry is apparently one of them - 68 ha, or 85ha whoever you believe, counting towards the 4000 ha total. How much of that area is open for public access? Well there's a footpath through the middle of the site, but otherwise the public are told to Keep Out - Danger! In fact, AI would still like this part of our new National Nature Park to be where it processes material quarried from Straitgate Farm, beyond when the site's permission expires in 2016.

How many more of the MPA's sites are like this one? Nothing seems to have changed. There is no new National Park - it's all just PR smoke and mirrors, some PR spin to give quarrying a better image.