Quarrying was first used by early settlers in Britain for building stone and extracting metals for weapons, and continues as a primary industry that involves the extraction of rocks such as limestone and slate.
- Quarrying creates jobs in areas where there are limited opportunities.
- There is a huge demand for the products of quarrying, such as building stone and cement. This is linked to the demand for new homes in the UK.
- Quarrying provides income to local councils through taxation.
- Good communications are needed for transporting the products of quarrying. As a result many remote rural areas benefit from improved access.
- It is an important part of the UK economy. Over 30,000 people are employed in quarrying itself and related industries.
A landfill site in Essex
- Wildlife habitats are destroyed.
- Valuable agricultural land is taken away.
- Quarrying creates pollution from noise and dust.
- Heavy traffic causes pollution and congestion on narrow country roads. The vibrations from heavy traffic can causedamage to buildings.
- Quarries create visual pollution and tourists may be deterred by the scars on the landscape.
- Landfill sites and waste tips need to be monitored to check for a build up of gases, such as methane.
- Limestone is a non-renewable resource – so it can be argued that quarrying is unsustainable.
How can the impacts of quarrying be reduced?
- To reduce lasting visual pollution, landscaping and tree planting could take place when the quarry is exhausted. Screens could also be set up around working quarries.
- Restrictions on the size of quarries and working hours could cut down on visual and noise pollution.
- Rail could be used to transport the quarried rock where possible.
- Disused quarries could be used as car parks.
- Flooded quarries can be used for water sports for the benefit of tourists and the local economy.
- Nature reserves and conservation areas can be reinstated in the landscape when a quarry is exhausted.
Case studies: instances of sustainable management of quarrying
The management of quarries can be encouraged to be more sustainable duringand after quarrying. The quarrying company is expected to restore or improve the quarry site after they have extracted the rock. Measures can be put in place to enable this to happen in a more sustainable way.
Quarry restoration can take place. Areas that have already been quarried can be restored while works go in other areas of the quarry.
Holme Park quarry is a limestone quarry that has been quarried for over 50 years. Within and close to the area there are sites of special scientific interest.
Areas of limestone pavement have been left. One forms an island in the centre of the quarry. The other is found to the south west. This retains some of thehabitat for the wildlife. The quarry management team worked with the county council and the local community to retain and restore areas within the quarry. Community access was increased, so that the people could learn more about the wildlife and geology of the area.
The Holme Park Quarry will be worked until 2021 then returned to nature.
Protected limestone section of Holme Park Quarry
The Cotswold Water Park
The Cotswold Water Park is another example of quarry restoration. Gravel is extracted. Large lakes are left where sailing and fishing can take place, and the large flat areas can be used for cycling. Gravel is still being extracted.
However, in this case there has been less thought about how the area can be managed. Different people own areas within the park and this has sometimes led to conflicts in the use of the area.
Dinmor Parc Quarry is in Anglesey, North West Wales. It is in an area of outstanding natural beauty. The quarry closed in the early 1980s and afterwards the mining company helped to landscape the area so it blended with the coastal setting. The area was stabilised and the quarry floor prepared with small stones to encourage wildlife to return. To help maintain the economy for the community a fish farm was also created and this provided jobs.