Quarry Products Association of Northern Ireland
  Quarries and pits  

The aggregates industry plays a significant role in delivering biodiversity conservation in Northern Ireland, as land managers they have a dominant influence on ecosystems and habitats.

Quarries and sand & gravel pits are of importance for a wide variety of wildlife during active, extraction phase and after extraction has finished. Mineral extraction can also uncover important geological exposures and archaeological features.

Belshaws Quarry NNR
natural regeneration
wetland habitat
Diversity of Wildlife Habitats: a by-product of our industry’s activities!
species rich grassland

Both nature conservation organisations and the aggregates industry now recognise the significant contribution aggregate extraction operations can deliver for biodiversity. Quarries and Sand & Gravel pits can be of importance for a wide variety of wildlife during the active extraction phase and after extraction has finished. Extraction can also uncover important geological exposures and archaeological features. Any action for biodiversity conservation should be harmonized with geological management requirements of the site where possible.

Aggregate development, like all types of development, has to compete for land. However, unlike other forms of development quarrying is a temporary use of land and progressive restoration means that sites are effectively “borrowed”. More often than not aggregate extraction creates new and diverse habitats; therefore biodiversity interests are as unavoidable by the industry as much as they are an opportunity.

Quarrying is also a unique form of development because aggregates can only be extracted where they occur. This means extraction is limited to certain geological areas. Often these geological areas are in areas of inherent beauty or value because of the relationship between geology, its biodiversity and the landscape. However, quarrying is an essential part of modern society and aggregates are a vital resource for economic growth and development. Annual demand for aggregates in Northern Ireland is approximately 24 million tonnes, there are around 160 quarries and sand pits producing £400 million worth of products per year.

The quarrying industry is conscious of the need to carry out its work with sensitivity and responsibly. It is committed to minimising the environmental impact of its operations and to making a positive contribution to the environment through the restoration of sites and, in particular, through the creation of new wildlife habitats which can increase biodiversity and geodiversity.

Quarrying is strictly controlled and has to meet high standards of environmental performance set by government and local planning authorities. The industry is continuing to push standards still higher. Many of our companies implement Environmental Management Systems, part of the company’s management system used to develop and implement its environmental policy and manage its interactions with the environment.

Companies implement environmental management systems to ensure that operations are carried out as sensitively as possible. The creation and management of new wildlife habitats is often carried out in partnership with local conservation groups. Biodiversity and Geodiversity action plans are becoming increasingly common throughout the QPA membership to ensure the highest levels of environmental management.

Aggregates Levy in Northern Ireland

The Aggregates Levy was introduced, UK-wide, in 2002 and is an environmental tax on the commercial exploitation of aggregates. The aim is to address the environmental costs associated with aggregates extraction not already covered by regulation. It is also aimed at encouraging the use of alternative sources such as recycled materials and certain waste products. The Levy is set at £1.60 per tonne. There were particular problems associated with the impact of the Levy in Northern Ireland and the Aggregates Levy Scheme was developed to overcome these. The Scheme has EU approval and will run to March 2011. Operators who join the Scheme are entitled to a reduction of 80% in the Levy i.e. will only have to pay £0.32 per tonne. In return, operators sign a legal agreement undertaking to carry out environmental improvements at their sites on an incremental basis. Companies join the aggregates scheme (ALCS) 0n a voluntary basis to receive the levy reduction and are audited by the Department of the Environment who Administers ALCS on behalf of Her Majesty's Customs and Revenue.

Click here to view Code of Practice and Audit Protocol.pdf


"The preservation of biodiversity is not just a job for governments. International and non-governmental organisations, the private sector and each and every individual have a role to play in changing entrenched outlooks and ending destructive patterns of behaviour"

- Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General on the 2003 International Day of Biological Diversity.

Crais Quarry
You are in:Biodiversity - Quarries and Pits
also relevant
Biodiversity and Geodiversity
Code of Practice and Audit Protocol.pdf
Our Nature with Aggregates
Good Practice
Case Studies
Northern Ireland LBAPs
Biodiversity Advice and Resources
Print PagePrintable page
Top of page I Disclaimer I Sitemap I Valid HTML 4.01 and CSS