Operator: Tarmac Ltd
Tarmac Ltd’s Bellmoor and Lound Estate, situated in the valley of the river idle, has been worked for sand and gravel since the mid-1940s, with Tarmac operating the site since 1981. It comprises the 316 hectare Sutton and Lound Gravel Pits SSSI where a long and successful partnership between Tarmac Ltd and Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust (NWT).
The original restoration requirement for Bellmoor and Lound quarries was to agriculture. Pulverised Fuel Ash (PVA) pumped from nearby Cottam Power Station was used to fill the extraction voids. However, this source came to an end and large areas filled with water. In time, with a little help from the restoration team, the land regenerated and became a wildlife haven. The area was designated a SSSI largely due to its importance for breeding, wintering and passage birds.
The site’s restoration has created a wide range of habitats for birds and animals, such as wet and dry grassland, wet woodland, scrub, hedgerows, bare ground and reedbeds. Open water is another habitat that has been developed, with a series of lakes and ponds, both shallow and deep, either with graded sides or steep.
There are around 300 botanical species in the SSSI and the bird species include great white egrets, black necked grebes and herons. Parts of the site are grazed by sheep and cattle.
One of the great achievements on the site is the lottery-funded Idle Valley Rural Learning Centre, which is operated by North Nottinghamshire College and is the base from which the Wildlife Trust also runs numerous community programmes.
The variety and quality of the restoration work shines through at this extensive site, which has also facilitated a string of wildlife, community and leisure uses, as well as huge public enjoyment.