Whitlingham enters final phase of restoration
LAFARGE Aggregates & Concrete UK are entering the final phase of restoration at Whitlingham Quarry, after 20 years of mineral extraction. The site, to the south-east of Norwich, has been operated by the company since 1990 and has produced around 200,000 tonnes of sand and gravel each year for the local market.
As part of Lafarge’s restoration commitments, much of the quarry has been progressively restored to create the award-winning Whitlingham Country Park, which is managed by the Whitlingham Charitable Trust.
The first phase of this restoration, Whitlingham ‘Little Broad’ –– a 4ha lake which was completed and handed back to the Trust in 1997 –– now provides a training facility for windsurfing, dinghy sailing and scuba diving.
The ‘Main Broad’, which was completed and handed over to the Whitlingham Charitable Trust in 2007, created a 1,500m long rowing course, together with facilities for other watersports such as canoeing, windsurfing and sailing, as well as a wildlife conservation area.
The third and final phase of the restoration is now nearing completion with the creation of ‘Thorpe Broad’, on the north side of the river Yare. This will provide for nature conservation, including bird hides and permissive footpaths, and it is hoped that this broad can be handed over by The Whitlingham Charitable Trust and managed by Thorpe Town Council.
Since ceasing operations at Whitlingham and opening their new Mangreen Quarry, at Swardeston, Lafarge have been dismantling the processing facilities at Whitlingham Lane and will shortly be submitting a planning application for the restoration of this part of the site.
This application will seek to provide: additional parking for the Whitlingham Country Park, including a coach drop-off point; a new access road to the Country Park for special events; and the construction of a basic agricultural stores building.
Colin Ellis, quarry manager of Lafarge’s new Mangreen Quarry and former manager of the operations at Whitlingham, said: ‘It’s very exciting to be getting to this stage in the restoration at Whitlingham. We are exceptional proud of our achievements, and our work with local organizations, to help to create and fund the Whitlingham Country Park.
‘These additional and final phases of restoration will create something which generations to come will enjoy. The work at our former processing plant, across the road from the Main Broad and visitor centre, will greatly benefit the Country Park and will complete this award-winning example of quarry restoration.’