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Making a splash in Surrey

THE latest batch of Habitat Action Plans (HAPs) covering the protection and enhancement of Surrey’s wetland habitats has been launched by the Surrey Biodiversity Partnership. The plans were unveiled at a launch event held at the Molesey reservoir site in May.

The redundant Thames Water reservoirs at Molesey, which are currently being worked for gravel by Island Barn Aggregates Ltd, a joint venture between Lafarge Aggregates and RMC, are seen as a flagship example of what can be achieved in wetland habitat creation.

The restoration-led extraction scheme began in 1999 to transform the reservoir complex into a 60ha wetland nature reserve and includes not only gravel extraction, but also the demolition of the internal concrete walls of the reservoirs. The final restoration of the site is scheduled for completion in 2009.

Simon Elson, principal minerals environmental enhancement officer for Surrey County Council, sees the site as a role model for the habitat enhancements which can take place during a commercial operation, and one that demonstrates the economic and environmental benefits of a multi-partnership approach.

‘Molesey reservoirs demonstrate exactly what can be achieved with vision, thought and co-operation. The operation also reflects the unique position the minerals industry is in to contribute to wetland habitat creation through its commercial activities,’ he said.

Expressing his delight that Island Barn Aggregates’ vision is now being turned into reality, company chairman Robert Whetstone, said: This is a classic example of how forward thinking by the mineral planning authority and the minerals industry itself can provide a facility which is of significant benefit to both the local community and the local environment.

‘The site is a difficult one to work, but the dream of a mosaic of open water, seasonally flooded grassland, mudflats and a 5ha reed bed is slowly being brought to life by an operating team which is dedicated to achieving these long-term objectives.’


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