Fagl Lane is a restored sand and gravel site, now managed by a Community Interest Company, who are looking to recreate an ancient managed landscape on the site, featuring farmland, woodland, wetlands, an operational Iron Age farm and Roman Fort, all for educational, research and leisure purposes. Nature After Minerals assessed the current ecological features, to identify the most valuable, and to advise how these could be incorporated into new proposals and be maintained in the long term.

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Fagl Lane Quarry, Hope, Flintshire, UK



Mineral Type

Sand and gravel



Proposed restoration

To be confirmed / to incorporate a Roman fort

Potential best practice

Maximising biodiversity alongside a historical / cultural attraction / public open green space.


Up to 2004 Fagl Lane was worked for sand and gravel by Hanson UK. The Community Interest Company (CIC) was set up to restore and manage the site – to be called ‘Park in the Past’, providing a valuable asset (historical, educational and open green space) to the local community. The CIC are developing a restoration concept to be submitted for planning approval in early 2016.

Fagl Lane Quarry map

Opportunities identified by RESTORE

The aspiration is to recreate habitats that would have been present in the area during the Roman occupation in the first century AD. Fagl Lane Quarry has the potential to deliver high quality habitat mosaics featuring grassland, woodland, open water and scrub. These would have been present to varying extents in the landscape during this time and been managed in various ways. Long term management of the recreated habitats will be key to keeping the site in good ecological condition.

Why Fagl Lane Quarry fitted RESTORE objectives:

To help ensure the long-term viability of the site in terms of nature conservation, far beyond the short statutory aftercare period enforced under the mineral extraction planning permission.

Also, to balance ecological and biodiversity elements with green infrastructure and cultural heritage; the aim for this site is to bring the local community closer to the natural and historical environment, benefiting health and wellbeing.


September 2014

NAM/RESTORE advisors site visit to Fagl Lane quarry.

Spring 2015

Comments and recommendations submitted on the restoration and long-term aftercare plans.

Proposed restoration

The original restoration plan included a mixed end-use, with the land in the north of the site returned to agricultural pasture with associated hedgerows, and the remainder to be restored to a nature conservation end use. Much of the central part is dominated by a large, deep lake which was proposed to be enhanced through additional reed planting, while to the south, the site was to be left to naturally vegetate to open mosaic habitat as well as a number of ponds and scrapes.

The CIC is proposing to revise this to incorporate historical and educational features described, whilst retaining the biodiversity interest that is already establishing at the site. The 12ha lake in the middle of the site will become a leisure facility, with a variety of non-motorised boats, and the potential for open water swimming.

Our response and suggestions

Our recommendations to maximise biodiversity during the continued restoration, and to maintain this through long-term management.


Some valuable habitat features have developed through post extraction restoration, to be retained where possible, with the site to continue naturally regenerating and colonising with nature species.

not approved

Open Water / Lake / Surrounding Habitats

The areas of habitat surrounding the lake are the least diverse of the site, comprising grassland farmland with little topographical variety. The lake is large and deep, with steep banks offering minimal biodiversity interest. Some marginal areas have been planted with reed, although a number of these have failed, so could be required to be replaced. There are a number of recognised techniques for establishing reed, and information can be found in the RSPB’s handbook ‘Reedbed Management for Commercial and Wildlife Interests’, and on the Nature After Minerals website.  In order to provide diversity within reed areas, in time it is likely to need cutting small blocks on rotation once the reed has sufficiently matured.

An area of damp grassland to the west of the lake was becoming dominated by soft rush. To improve this sward for wildlife, advice was that the rush be controlled either by a) cutting and removing the arisings followed by grazing with native cattle or hardy sheep; or b) cutting, allowing the vegetation to regenerate for 6-8 weeks and then treating with an herbicide using a weedwiper.

Ponds / Wetland Features

A number of wetland features already exist, and provide habitat for particularly amphibians and aquatic invertebrates. In the northern eastern area, a series of ephemeral ponds occur, and should be retained were possible. Should public access be required to this area it should be via a boardwalk over the top of these features with an interpretation explaining why seasonal ponds and muddy areas are good for wildlife. A boardwalk would protect the habitat from human disturbance, and afford good views of the ponds at times when they are holding water.

While there is good aquatic habitat already present at the site, creating new clean water ponds elsewhere in the site will be beneficial, particularly if naturally colonised rather than planted, and not stocked with fish (which predate on aquatic invertebrates). Several guidance notes are available on ponds and pools, including on the Nature After Minerals website, on the Farm Wildlife website and on the Freshwater Habitats Trust website.

not approved


Young sycamore trees (Acer pseudoplantanus) are establishing in the woodland; this can be selectively removing as a potentially invasive non-native species. Sycamore was first recorded in the wild in 1632. Although naturalised in the British countryside, it can be problematic because it is fast growing, quick to seed and can outcompete and replace native trees and shrubs in woodland. It does host a relatively small number of insect species, its biodiversity value is less than native trees.

Establishing a woodland management programme, including creating glades and woodland rides will open up the canopy and allow light to the woodland floor, encouraging the ground flora to flourish (a dense canopy will shade out many woodland plants), and benefit a number of butterfly species.

Allowing natural succession at the woodland will allow a zone of scrub and shrub to develop between the woodland and the surrounding habitats. Transitional zones between different habitats, such as grassland and scrub or scrub and woodland, known as ecotones, are incredibly valuable for lots of different species, providing shelter and feeding opportunities.

not approved

Natural Regeneration / Bare ground

Natural regeneration should be a key component of habitat development. Although slow, it provides substantial benefits for a range of wildlife as the mosaic of habitats and features develop naturally to suit local conditions. Whereas ‘greening up’ areas quickly by importing topsoil or compost, which are high in nutrients, prevents early successional and pioneer plant species from naturally colonising. Willow and birch may need to be controlled to prevent them from overtaking other species.

Retaining patches of bare ground, particularly on south facing slopes and exposures bare areas in various areas, and incorporating these into the long-term management plan for the site is incredibly important for specialist species, particularly invertebrates including bees, butterflies and ground beetles, that occupy the early stages as the habitat develops. Interpretation could be installed to highlight why this is important.


Scrub is under-represented in the British landscape but is an important component of many habitats, creating structural diversity and providing shelter and feeding opportunities for many bird and insect species. There is an excellent opportunity at Fagl Lane to ensure patches of scrub are included in the developing habitat mosaic, and we recommended allowing discrete areas of scrub to establish through natural regeneration. Advice was to fence establishing scrub to protect it from browsing. The proportion of scrub can be relatively small (10-20%) maintain a balance with other habitats but management will be needed in the medium to longer term to prevent it spreading and outcompeting other species. For further information on scrub management see the RSPB’s Scrub Management Advisory Sheet.

Managing public access

Careful zoning of public access should ensure compatibility between nature and other objectives of ‘Park In The Past’. Footpath routes can be designed to guide people through different habitats without them feeling as if they’re being rigidly controlled, for example constructing creating viewpoints, without impacting on the habitats or disturbing wildlife unnecessarily. Also some form of screening around the main wetlands to provide wetland birds with protection against disturbance.

This has been successfully piloted at the restored sand and gravel quarry at Middleton Lakes, near Tamworth in Staffordshire, with excellent use of zoning and inclusion of a play meadow and adventure zone in low impact areas, helps young visitors to get close to wildlife.

How this best practice is transferable

The proposals are innovative in combining predominately biodiversity restoration with an historical / cultural development for the local community. Securing the long term future of biodiversity features at a restored quarry is often difficult, but revising the plan to include visitor / educational facilities, gives Fagl Lane quarry a long term future.

Lessons learned

The use of natural regeneration and creation of open mosaic habitats has provided interesting biodiversity outcomes, and the retention of these key features will be an important part of any new proposals for the site. Careful management of public access will allow people to come face to face with nature, and learn about the natural environment, as well as the historical environment.