Mineral Planning Authority
Shropshire County Council
Lowland calcareous grassland
Grazing, lowland calcareous
stewardship, natural regeneration,
Limestone has been quarried at Llynclys
for over 150 years. In past years the
quarry operations were widely spread and
included limekilns with a rail link. The
extent of the operating area is now far
reduced from these early days to a single
office with a one-way traffic system.
Llynclys quarry lies within the Oswestry
Uplands Natural Area. Natural Areas are
a suite of bio-geographic zones reflecting the geology, natural systems and processes in different
parts of England and are used to help set nature conservation objectives.
Undulating Carboniferous limestone hills with their calcareous grasslands and rocky outcrops are
characteristic of this Natural Area. Neglect and fragmentation of the unimproved calcareous
grasslands has made them a scarce and threatened habitat in Shropshire and therefore an important
habitat for targeted restoration in local quarries.
Besides the historic mineral workings, land use prior to recent quarrying was largely pastoral
agricultural systems. These were based on small fields with improved grassland and some woodland.
Historically in this area, quarries were simply abandoned when extraction was complete, and natural
regeneration followed (see section on Llanymynech Rocks below). At the current site, proposals for
nature conservation as an after-use were included within the planning application. This meant that
landforming could be tailored to complement natural regeneration, maximising benefits for wildlife.
Habitat creation details
In-house expertise was used to develop the
restoration scheme, with additional input from
three recent ALSF funded projects led by
Shropshire County Council (now Shropshire
Council). These projects surveyed the
biodiversity interest of the site and also
initiated management of some previously
restored areas. This included scrub
management, hedgerow creation, pond and associated fen creation, installation of bat boxes, and
provision of grazing, as well as identifying further opportunities for biodiversity and reporting on survey
Site restoration was determined in accordance with the Natural Area status of the surrounding
landscape and existing natural habitats. Considerations were also given to the hydrogeology and the
type and availability of material for restoration. Since extraction at the site will intercept the water
table, the restoration scheme will include an open water feature. Quarry walls have been profiled by
placing material against the worked faces. This has provided an intimate mosaic of exposed face and
backfilled areas as well as heterogeneity in slope and aspect. Some slopes were lightly spread with
topsoil, others were left as the mineral substrate. A combination of light seeding and natural
regeneration has produced good results. On parts of the site where woodland is to be created, topsoil
from former woodland areas has been used and it is hoped that the existing seedbank will regenerate
the ground flora.
Restoration is ongoing and completed on a phased programme as faces are worked to permission
limits. So far about one sixth of the 65 ha site has been restored. A diverse age range of habitat
therefore exists throughout the site, with some areas having been restored over twenty years ago.
The most recent ASLF funded project opened up 3.7 hectares of Calcareous Grassland, created a
new pond – primarily for invertebrates – and introduced hay. Hay was taken from Sweeny Fen Site of
Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) about 1km from the site to ensure local provenance of seed. This
was then strewn by volunteers from Tarmac, Shropshire Council and Shropshire Wildlife Trust around
the pond to encourage the development of base-rich fen.
New pond created. Dan Wrench
Grazing stock were introduced in 2005 and have gradually been introduced to larger areas of the
site. The stock are having a positive impact on the vegetation with previously uninteresting grassland
now supporting a wider range of herb species and associated invertebrates. This has been a co-
operative achievement between Shropshire Council, who installed fencing, and Tarmac who secured
a grazier. All in a site which is still partially active.
Grazing stock at the quarry. Dan Wrench
Costs of restoration and management
Standard earthmoving equipment has been
employed to carry out the landforming (360
excavators, articulated dump-trucks,
tracked bulldozer). The success of natural
colonisation is dependent on there being
suitable seed/ propagule sources within the
vicinity of the site.
Lafarge Aggregates Limited (LAL) will fund
the long-term management work under the
provisions of the planning permission and
the associated Legal Agreement. This will
be undertaken either directly or through
appointed contractors and voluntary bodies.
Management planning and decision making will be undertaken in partnership between LAL and
interested conservation parties such as Shropshire Council, Shropshire Wildlife Trust, Butterfly
Conservation, Shropshire Biodiversity Partnership, Natural England etc.
Shropshire Council has been working with Tarmac to enable a large proportion of the quarry to apply
for Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) through Natural England (NE). This includes areas with existing
planning conditions. The Minerals Planning Authority (Shropshire Council) have written to Tarmac and
NE effectively signing-off large areas as ‘out of restoration’ to allow Environmental Stewardship
schemes to take over the longer term financing of habitat management.
Monitoring of the quarry slopes has shown that the seed bank in the soil has quickly regenerated with
flora such as primrose, cowslip, viper's-bugloss, bird's-foot-trefoil, autumn gentian, wild strawberry
and marjoram. Recent ecological surveys of the whole site have revealed seven species of orchid In
total, the site contains 283 plant species including 56 plant species that are indicative of good quality
habitat. This is a significant number particularly since 50 is considered a good number for Sites of
Special Scientific Interest. In 2006 floral surveys reveal several rare species including creeping willow and
a nationally rare moss Grimmia orbicularis.
Ecological surveys also found twelve species of butterfly, including the Green Hairstreak and the
largest population of grizzled skipper in Shropshire. Two target species, grizzled skipper and dingy
skipper, are still using the site. There are further Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) surveys planned for 2010.
Public consultation and exhibitions were held in advance of the planning application. The history of
successful restoration for wildlife at the site carried weight in winning over the views of the local
There will be public access to the site with new footpaths linking the site to the surrounding footpath
network. Access cannot be allowed to operational areas of the site, or to restored areas close
by. However, with each completed phase of restoration, more areas are opened up to the local
community. Schools and visiting academics can already access the site by appointment and an
annual open day attracts a large number of visitors.
Volunteers from the Shropshire Wildlife Trust have been active on site and are keen to return to carry
out habitat management on a regular basis.
This abandoned quarry is approximately 1.5km to the south of Llynclys and makes for an interesting
comparison between natural regeneration and planned restoration.
Llanymynech is part of the same Natural Area as nearby Llynclys and is similarly situated on
Carboniferous limestone. The quarry itself was abandoned in stages with the last working taking place
in the 1940s. Since its abandonment, the thin soils, which developed over the worked areas, have
allowed an interesting limestone grassland mosaic to develop through natural regeneration.
The site straddles the England/Wales border and is jointly managed by the respective Shropshire and
Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trusts. Management of the site focuses on habitat conservation not
restoration, concentrating on retaining the open limestone grassland areas and preventing scrub
encroachment. For example, work by the both Wildlife Trusts focuses on managing the grassland
scrub mosaic for the pearl-bordered fritillary. The site has good public access and is well used.