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Milton Keynes nature reserve recognized at European awards

Konik ponies

Hanson project receives special mention at 2022 UEPG Sustainable Development Awards

HANSON’s work to create Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, has been recognized at the 2022 UEPG Sustainable Development Awards, held in Brussels.

The project was nominated by the Mineral Products Association (MPA) in the biodiversity category, where it gained a special mention for the creation of a dynamic river floodplain system that links with the main river, the Great Ouse.

The project involved the progressive restoration of Hanson’s former Manor Farm sand and gravel quarry – in partnership with landowners Milton Keynes Parks Trust – to create, re-establish, and enhance several UK priority habitats, such as a network of lakes and ponds, wet woodland, wet grassland, and reedbeds.

The nature reserve attracts a multitude of birds, including waders such as redshank and lapwing, as well as water voles and otter, and is managed to give the community access to nature.

The UEPG Sustainable Development Awards are run every three years by the European aggregates industry. They promote the sharing of environmental best practice and, by encouraging projects that exceed planning and regulatory requirements, set new standards of excellence.

Principal landscape architect David Southgate said: ‘The Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve was based on previous similar Hanson restorations, while implementing valuable lessons learned.

‘Connecting the wetland areas with the main channel of the river means that the wetland system is an active part of the floodplain and wider ecology. The added ‘ecosystem services’ benefits from this scheme are significant, from improving water quality and decreasing flood risk to providing spawning areas for fish.

‘The dynamic system with grazing by Konik ponies and cattle to manage vegetation has similarities with ‘re-wilding’, which is increasingly regarded as being a more sustainable way of enhancing biodiversity.

‘We are thrilled that the project has been recognized at these important awards and hope it will set a good-practice example and be replicated elsewhere in the industry.’

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