Peter Steffens is manager of Smith and Sons’ Gill Mill sand and gravel quarry near Witney in Oxfordshire. The quarry is the largest in the county and has a progressive working and restoration scheme in a floodplain that demands careful timing and management. On top of his day to day role as manager, Peter has gone the extra mile in adding real biodiversity value to Gill Mill’s work and encouraging colleagues who now regularly report priority species. As a result of Peter’s work, the site has won two conservation driven awards in recent years.
Perhaps his greatest success has been the development of Tar Lakes which has involved regenerating a previously dried up ditch and bringing wildlife to the heart of an area which is also now accessed and enjoyed by the public. He has also driven the addition of clean water ponds to an existing restored landscape and introduced new habitats such as scrapes, shallows and shingle beaches.
All this has required Peter to develop his own understanding of biodiversity by joining a course run by Nature After Minerals and the RSPB and by working closely with the Lower Windrush Valley Project in helping to achieve its wider objectives of improving biodiversity and public access. He has also engaged enthusiastically with Pond Conservation and with other wildlife conservation groups on a variety of species related projects including barn owls, mink, water vole, crayfish and otter.