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Wildlife habitat development

Lafarge Redland Aggregates are proposing to create nearly 100ha of much needed, scarce wildlife habitat in the Medway Valley.

The company propose to develop a western extension at their existing sand and gravel quarry at Stonecastle Farm. Mineral reserves at the site, which has been worked since 1981, are nearly exhausted. To maintain continuity of supply for existing markets, Lafarge Redland want to develop the adjacent 114ha to replace the existing operations which, they say, would mean no change to the workings of the site, but plenty of positive changes to the environment.

The proposed extension area is owned by the Teacher family and is part of the Hadlow Estate. James Teacher, a committed environmentalist and conservationist, is president of the Kent Wildlife Trust. He comments: 'The landscape of this part of the Medway Valley is entirely man-made and the county is continuing to suffer severe habitat losses in the wake of urban sprawl and rural development. Under these circumstances it is almost impossible to create new habitats to replace those which have been lost historically.

'Lafarge Redland Aggregates have an international reputation for high-quality mineral extraction and restoration. Working with the company and their ecological consultants, we have developed a new landscape 'mosaic' designed to complement the existing river valley landscape.

'The most exciting element is the creation of nearly 60ha of reed-bed matrix made of open-water pools, channels and margins. This type of habitat is extremely scarce within Kent and the UK as a whole, and and is specifically targeted by the Kent Biodiversity Action Plan.'

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