Imerys Minerals has won a national award for the major regeneration and restoration of large areas of former china clay land in mid-Cornwall.
The company was named the overall winner of the Natural England Award for Landscape-scale Restoration in the Biodiversity Category at the Quarries and Nature 2017 event, held at the Royal Society, in London.
The event, organised by the Mineral Products Association, attracted 45 environmental and conservation organisations as well as industry operators to celebrate the industry’s contribution to nature conservation.
The Imerys ‘Tomorrow’s Heathland Heritage Project – Putting the Wild Heart Back into Cornwall’ formed one of the largest habitat re-creation schemes in Europe and has re-created almost 2,000 acres (785 hectares) of lowland heathland on sites extending over 26 square miles of Cornwall.
This has included the landscaping and reprofiling of existing china clay tips, pits and mica dams, the seeding of these sites with heathland plant species and complementary planting of thousands of native trees. The scheme has also included the creation of public access and installation of stock management facilities to enable grazing management.
Work has stretched across more than 30 sites, from Fraddon Downs and Pines Tip in the west of Clay Country, through to Penrose in the east, and has included major restoration projects at Hendra, Hensbarrow Downs, Gunheath, Penhale and Carloggas.
Elements of the restored areas will form part of the 350-acre country park to be created and opened up to the public as part of the West Carclaze Eco-Communities development, with joint venture partner Eco-Bos, which earlier this year received Garden Village status from the Government.
Accepting the award, John Vine, Imerys’ mineral planning and waste recycling manager, said it was a proud moment for everyone involved in the project.
“The China Clay industry has been hugely significant in the history of Cornwall and, through the ongoing and extensive operations of Imerys today, continues to be a major employer and contributor to the social and economic fabric of the county,” he said.
“We are very aware of our responsibilities to return the land to nature following mining use and we take immense pride in the way this scheme has recreated once lost habitats by creating large areas of heathland reflecting the historic nature of the area which existed prior to agricultural improvement and china clay extraction.
“It is fantastic to have the work done here recognised by this award but also for the way the project is already being held up nationally and by the EU as a model for good practice.”