The reedy fringe of Elney Lake, at Fen Drayton RSPB reserve, Cambridgeshire, England. February 2007.

Minerals planning

Why the untapped potential of mineral quarries could be one of the keys to stopping nature's decline.

Why quarries matter

Quarry machinery on a dusty dirt track

Nature is in crisis, but former quarries can provide a lifeline for wildlife. Huge swathes of habitat disappeared under development in the 20th century, squeezing nature into ever-smaller spaces. A 2006 RSPB report showed local authorities were missing opportunities to encourage nature restoration on a massive scale by transforming quarries into nature reserves at the end of their working life. Mineral sites alone could make a valuable contribution to supporting nature's recovery.

Planning for nature

Developing green reedbed on a clam body of water, Ouse Fenn RSPB nature reserve

Minerals Local Plans (MLPs) are a system to ensure quarries deliver for nature. They create policies that determine the amount of minerals that can be extracted over a given timeframe, where and when mineral quarries are allowed and how they should be restored when mining is complete. Plans for mineral quarries must comply with its MLP. The RSPB responds to consultations on MLPs as a voice for nature.

Nature After Minerals

Sunset over heathland, Arne RSPB reserve

We work directly with quarry companies and planning authorities as well as local communities and conservation organisations to boost wildlife numbers and provide safe and nature-rich places for people to enjoy in restored quarries. Led by the RSPB, Nature After Minerals is a partnership programme, supported by Natural England, the Minerals Products Association, and the British Aggregates Association. We work to champion opportunities for nature through high quality habitat creation on former quarries.

Visionary work

Sunny aerial view of disused quarry, now filled with metallic blue water, and surrounded by greenery, Hodbarrow RSPB reserve, Millom, Cumbria

We are working with partners, including within the minerals industry, to restore a network of former quarries across the Trent valley as part of a nature-rich corridor and create an inspirational place to live, work and visit. The UK's third longest river, the Trent, touches the lives of more than six million people, meandering almost 190 miles from the Tame in the heart of the Midlands to the Humber.

Look to the future

Bright yellow flowers in the forefront of a landscape view of Langford Lowfields RSPB reserve, Nottingham, in summer, under a dark cloudy sky, showing that the habitat is being restored after quarrying

The Westminster government wants to build up to a million houses on an arc of land between Oxford and Cambridge by 2050. Huge amounts of minerals like sand and gravel will be needed. Together with partners, we are urging the government to grasp this opportunity to establish a long-term vision for mineral extraction that puts nature first and create top calibre habitats for wildlife across this sweep of land.