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Wed June 16 2021

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Quarry returns to nature

14 Sep 16 A Cambridgeshire sand and gravel quarry is on its way to becoming the UK’s largest reedbed for rare birds.

Needingworth reed beds
Needingworth reed beds

A further 96 hectares of restored land at Hanson UK’s Needingworth has been handed over to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) as part of a 30-year project to create a wildlife nature reserve from a working quarry.

The Hanson-RSPB wetland project at Needingworth is billed as the biggest planned nature conservation restoration scheme in Europe. It began in 2001 and is primarily being created for bitterns, a species that until recently was very rare in Britain. The reserve is also home to other scarce species such as marsh harriers, bearded tits, otters and water voles.

Hanson will continue to hand over parcels of land as sand and gravel extraction is completed, eventually forming a 700 hectare reserve and recreating some of the wetland habitat that once dominated the Fenland landscape but was lost due to drainage and land use changes. The reedbed will cover around 1.5 square miles, almost doubling the natural wetland habitat.

“We recognise that quarrying, like farming, forestry and other rural activities, can have an impact on the countryside. But this project shows that we can make a very positive contribution to the UK’s landscape, its wildlife, its habitats and its biodiversity,” said Hanson UK communications manager David Weeks.

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