A ONCE fully-working quarry has been transformed into an 84.9-hectare wildlife haven and public attraction.

Formerly operated by Aggregate Industries in its later years, the site at Ripon City Wetlands was used in the sourcing and supplying of materials for construction across the country.

But following a detailed plan drafted up by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, supported by Aggregate Industries, a long-term plan to return the site back to nature began in 2011.

The plan was completed in three phases, which turned parts of the quarry into arable agriculture, a wetland nature reserve and a sailing lake.

Around £800,000 was spent in the restoration.

The Northern Echo:

Guy Edwards, Chief Executive Officer at Aggregate Industries, Mike Cooke, Chair of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

Guy Edwards Aggregate Industries chief executive officer said: “We are delighted that our quarry has been turned into such a significant place for wildlife.

“Sustainability and biodiversity are of the utmost importance to Aggregate Industries, and within that comes the beneficial restoration of sites to benefit the local community and the environment.”

Once a quarry is depleted of its materials, former sites can lie abandoned.

But at the site near Ripon, part of the quarried land has been filled with water to create a sailing lake and ultimate wildlife reserve.

In its several-year construction, hundreds of thousands cubic metres of soil has been moved, with more than 1,800 trees being planted on the site.

Canal reedbeds have been also been installed around the lake to allow bitterns hide and feed.

A strip of fen meadow, which runs along the edge of the lake, has also been grown.

Jonathan Leadley Yorkshire Wildlife Trust north regional manager said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming the public to Ripon City Wetlands, and we’re sure they’re going to love it.

“This wonderful new wetland adds to a suite of existing nature reserves along the River Ure corridor, including Nosterfield and High Batts.

“Yorkshire Wildlife Trust supports the creation of ‘Living Landscapes’ – wildlife habitats that are bigger, better managed and more joined-up – and collectively, these nature reserves are the perfect embodiment of that aim.” The finished site will open to the public on May 4.