Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Mineral operators "uniquely placed to benefit nature", or so they tell us

The quarrying industry likes giving out awards - not to local communities at the brunt of its activities but to themselves. Earlier this month the Mineral Products Association was proud to announce its Restoration and Biodiversity Awards. Its Chief Executive said:
Once again our members have demonstrated how much good work they are doing to achieve high quality restoration and to protect and enhance biodiversity throughout the country. The innovations and partnerships are delivering progress, priority habitats and assets locally and for the UK. The industry is uniquely placed to benefit nature, its legacy is growing, its potential is being realised and now we hope that this is being recognised.
Leaving aside the MPA's central argument that "the [quarrying] industry is uniquely placed to benefit nature", a phrase which would seem oxymoronic to many readers, is this really the same industry we tweet about with stories of unrestored sites and disrupted local communities? The same industry wanting to permanently disfigure a corner of East Devon removing two miles of ancient hedgerows and dormouse habitat, risking ancient wet woodlands and private water supplies, sacrificing a 150 acre dairy farm? The same industry intending to leave what in return? A footpath. Aggregate Industries is obviously not looking to win any restoration and biodiversity prizes with Straitgate.

Ok, so it's not surprising that quarry companies gloss over their impacts, whilst at the same time making out that they are the saviours of nature conservation. But if they wanted to win over local communities, we would be able to tweet more stories like this:
and less like this:
Anybody interested in quarries that have been restored can watch the MPA videos below. It could be that the industry is finally putting its house in order, or it could be more corporate spin. People can make up their own minds. One or two of the schemes look quite imaginative. Others less so.

How did AI do in these awards? Shortlisted for three, no doubt disappointed not to win any.