The aggregates industry is based on an ultimately finite resource. The issue from a sustainable point of view is whether or not the human-made wealth created for existing and future generations, justifies the consumption of these finite resources and the disruption involved. The greater the effort made to minimise the adverse effect on the environment, while preparing for, and both during and after extraction, the more sustainable extractive development projects may be.
Kilsaran Concrete is firmly of the view that extraction of aggregates whilst benefiting existing generations should not adversely impact on any future generations and their ability to enjoy the countryside. Through careful management, opportunities to create more diverse habitats can positively benefit these future generations.
Kilsaran Concrete is a modern dynamic company conscious that good corporate social responsibility is essential and that an obligation to sound environmental practices a must.
The Company employs a team of full time professional experts in environmental and planning matters. The commitment to good environmental practice starts at the early design stage of any new extractive project. Environmental considerations are factored in to the design, layout, phasing and post closure of all our pits and quarries.
There is a considerable amount of legislation relating to quarrying and the environment, which is backed up by Government and the Environmental Protection Agency guidance documents.
Emissions from an extractive operation may include noise, dust, ground vibrations and blast noise. Ongoing monitoring of surface water and groundwater is essential to demonstrate onsite procedures are preventing pollution, equally where active dewatering is taking place perimeter monitoring of groundwater levels is essential to gauge the impact on the surrounding watertable.
At Kilsaran Concrete a large amount of environmental monitoring data is collected and reported annually across its portfolio of quarries and pits. Dust deposition is measures continuously at around 60 locations, with monthly average dustfall being reported. Noise monitoring is carried out at around 47 locations monthly and every blast at every quarry is monitored for ground vibration and blast noise. Groundwater levels are recorded at least monthly in 68 wells in and around the company’s quarries. Further monitoring data is accumulated in compliance with licenses for surface water quarry discharges and emissions to air from our asphalt plants.
With any quarry there is a disturbance to the ground and a loss of habitat with the potential for a reduction in biodiversity, the operation of the quarry itself may also give rise to a negative impacts.
However these impacts can be addressed through the Environmental Management Systems so that extractive sites do not reduce bio-diversity, but are managed to greatly enhance and protect bio-diversity.
Quite often the land use prior to extraction is intensive agriculture, where species diversity is low due to spraying. During extraction and post closure, exposed quarry faces are ideal breeding and feeding sites for Peregrine Falcons, indeed these birds are not uncommon at a number of the Kilsaran Concrete quarries.
Similarly exposed faces at sand and gravel pits provide ideal nesting sites for Sand Martins.
The provision of water bodies during the operation life or as part of a careful restoration scheme offers valuable habitat for insects and amphibians.
The provision of raw materials to meet the needs of today’s society may also provide an opportunity to examine, explore and understand past geological processes through the exposure of fresh rock/gravel faces.
The Irish Geological Heritage Programme spearheaded by the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) sets out to protect and promote important geological sites representing different geological topics across the country.
One of Kilsaran Concrete’s working quarries is identified as a County Geological Site. In this case the rocks provides a window into a unique and dramatic episode in Ireland’s geological past – of volcanic islands within an ancient closing ocean that brought the two separate halves of Ireland together. The ongoing extraction enhances this geological value through fossil collecting and research opportunities.
To this end Kilsaran Concrete has agreed to support and allow access to a geological research team which will improve our knowledge and interpretation of events 400 million years ago.
Co-operation between Kilsaran Concrete and the GSI is not a new thing, over a number of years from 2002, the Company backed a quaternary mapping project in the northeast. The finished products included a detailed map of the superficial deposits across County Louth, which is available to purchase from the GSI.
Archaeology and Heritage
Stripping back of the topsoil may also reveal more recent times when earlier generations of human beings interacted with the landscape. Kilsaran Concrete recognises that archaeological heritage is a resource which can be used to gain knowledge and understanding of the past, that archaeological heritage is of great cultural and scientific importance.
It is a fundamental principal endorsed by Kilsaran Concrete that a quarry site must be restored to a defined after-use once extraction has ceased, ideally this restoration will take place progressively as areas within the quarry become exhausted.
With modern planning controls quarry developments will not get consent without a detailed site restoration plan. There is great potential to create new habitats and promote bio-diversity through these restoration schemes. Likewise should a quarry contain interesting or important geological features as with the above case study, the restoration scheme could incorporate access and information panels to promote this aspect for future generations.