Caring for our environment, Surrey County Council

Major summit launches project to renew quarried land

Pictured (left to right):Bea Ayling (RSPB), Sarah Jane Chimbwandira (Surrey Wildlife Trust), Reinhard Henke (Frankfurt Rhein Main regional authority), Simon Elson (Surrey County Council), John Furey (Surrey County Council), John Mills (Nature After Minerals), Nick Horsley (Sibelco), Dr Karsten Rusche (ILS), Michele Bowe (Somerset Wildlife), Dominic Forbes (Surrey County Council).

A pioneering international project involving the county council is set to transform Surrey quarries into wildlife havens.

The county council, alongside the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the public and private sectors in England and abroad, has unveiled a two-year, EU-funded action plan called Project Restore at a conference in County Hall.

The Project Restore partners’ aim is to share innovative ideas that could become a model for all European Union countries on revamping quarries.

Surrey’s soil is rich in valued minerals like clay and silica sand, and the county council is an award-winning authority in returning quarries to nature.  

The county council’s role in the project also includes developing a plan to transform quarried land back to nature across Spelthorne and parts of Runnymede and Elmbridge.

There are also plans to use more than 35,000 Euros of European funding to link up ancient woodland in Bletchingley and create a five-mile nature reserve between Nutfield and Godstone.

John Furey, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for the Environment, welcomed more than 70 delegates from across Europe to last month’s event, including from Germany, Holland and Belgium, plus English local councils.

He said: “Not many people know about the restoration planning and work we do before and after quarry sites have been developed. Some of our restoration sites in the countryside are brilliant.”

Recent restoration examples include converting sand pits into a recreation space at Mercer’s Lake near Nutfield, turning a Hansons quarry into Tice’s Meadow wetland nature reserve in Farnham, and working with housebuilders to create the lakeside Watercolour development outside Redhill. 

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