Belcoo Quarry is a 40ha site situated 2km from the town of Belcoo. The site does not currently have a restoration plan for the final end-use. RESTORE provided advice to the operator on key habitats and biodiversity-focussed features which should be targeted with the proposed restoration plan.
Calcareous grassland, standing water
Potential best practice
Natural regeneration and proactively seeking advice from nature conservation NGOs
After RESTORE issued their recommendation on Crievehill Quarry, Acheson & Glover suggested Belcoo Quarry would also have potential to restore to nature conservation. The advice offered by RESTORE will be going into a restoration plan which the operator intends to develop in the coming years.
Opportunities identified by RESTORE
As with Crievehill Quarry, the operator is one of the largest quarry operators in Northern Ireland and RESTORE saw this as an opportunity not only to influence on one site but to leave a legacy for best practice on restoration across the organisation. The site is also a limestone quarry, therefore providing the opportunity to restore large areas to calcareous grassland, a very rare habitat in Northern Ireland with an estimated 936ha remaining.
Why Belcoo Quarry fitted RESTORE objectives:
- The area of land owned accumulates to 40ha
- Help towards creating a restoration plan on a site that did not have one
- Operator owns several quarries, so this provided an opportunity to influence other sites
- The site falls within the Northern Ireland Futurescape
- Operator’s aspirations were already good
- Several nature conservation protected sites nearby.
RESTORE submitted thoughts on restoration design and management.
The quarry currently does not have a physical restoration plan. However, the operator intends to work with a consultant to design one. This will help target habitats and help with the phasing of the restoration, which in time may save money. The drawings will be based around advice by the RESTORE project.
Being under old planning consent, the quarry falls within the Review of Old Minerals Permissions (ROMPs). This means when the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment implement ROMPs, there will be a requirement to have a restoration plan in place.
Our response and suggestions
Following a site visit and meetings with the Operations Manager, RESTORE issued recommendations that could be included in a restoration plan.
How this best practice is transferable
The site demonstrates the potential of being proactive in creating restoration plans without the legal requirement. As the operator is one of the largest in Northern Ireland, it also has the ability to influence others such as competitors. Key features that could be shared are:
- Proactively seeking advice from nature conservation NGOs
- Natural regeneration
- Water body with edge areas optimal for wildlife
- Maintaining areas of bare ground.
Belcoo Quarry was the final site included in the project. This meant there was no opportunity to visit the site in the summer months to assess existing flora and fauna. This could have helped to refine recommendations.