Overview of the consented quarry.Bee orchid in unimproved calcareous grassland above the quarry.The peregrines favoured nest site.Melancholy thistle on field margins above the quarry.The badger sett immediately above the plant site.

Minerals - EcIA Ashwood Dale Quarry

Ashwood Dale Quarry, Buxton, Derbyshire

Background

 Omya Ltd’s Ashwood Dale Quarry is due for a Review of Mineral Planning Permission (RoMPP). At the same time the quarry is seeking a lateral extension. The quarry is right next door to Peak District Dales Special Area of Conservation and the existing permission encompasses a wide range of habitats, including semi-natural woodland (some of which is cited as ‘ancient’), as well as unimproved neutral and calcareous grassland which hold several uncommon plant species. There are also nesting peregrine falcons and a large badger sett to consider.

Action

 In order to ensure all the ecological input was relevant and justified; AEcol performed Phase 1 habitat mapping of the entire landholding, including the area earmarked for the lateral extension. 
The results of this survey were then assessed using AEcol’s Predictive Ecological Assessment System to produce a list of the legally protected and UK Biodiversity Action Plan species of plants and animals that might be present within each habitat. This information was combined into an overarching report and discussed with the County Ecologist in an on-site meeting with the client and planner, in order to agree exactly what additional surveys would be needed to satisfy planning policy. During this meeting, and armed with the results of our Predictive Assessment, we were able to demonstrate that many surveys were unjustified at this site, meaning that only those that were absolutely necessary were performed. This gave the client the peace of mind that they were doing only what they really needed to do, but that they were doing the right surveys to ensure there would be no delays or conflict upon submission of the final reports.  In the interim, while the surveys were performed, the client had sufficient information to proceed with designing an appropriate scheme, in order to avoid the habitats that had been predicted to hold the greatest biodiversity interest.

Outcome

 The ecological information has now been collated into an Assessment of Effects, and the County have agreed that the RoMPP and extension application may be combined, thus saving Omya Ltd still more time and money.

 If you would like to know more about our Predictive Ecological Assessment System, please click here.