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29 Nov 2023

Diversity of flourishing wildlife in quarries celebrated in photo competition

Quarrying’s outstanding contribution to nature recovery and biodiversity gain in the UK has been beautifully captured by industry workers and conservation volunteers in a nationwide photographic competition.

The biennial Quarries & Nature Photo Competition organised by the Mineral Products Association (MPA) celebrates the thriving fauna and flora in and around active and restored quarries that produce essential minerals like sand, gravel, limestone and granite.

Leading conservationists, policymakers, MPA member companies and the winning photographers were among the guests attending an exclusive viewing on Tuesday 28th November at The Royal Society, London where RSPB Chief Executive Beccy Speight, presented the prizes to the winning photographers.

Roy McDonald, a volunteer with Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust, captured this winning shot of a Redwing catching a worm at College Lake Nature Reserve, Tring, Buckinghamshire.

Commenting on the ability of mineral sites to leave a legacy at scale, Beccy Speight said: “We have long known how important the role of restored quarries can be in helping nature recover, and photography is a wonderful way of bringing this to light. The quality of the images in the competition is outstanding - congratulations to all taking part.”

Michael Cardus, a contractor with Tarmac won 1st prize for this shot of dark green fritillary butterflies feeding on a thistle at Arcow Quarry, Settle, North Yorkshire.

Mark Russell, MPA Executive Director for Planning & Mineral Resources said: “More new areas of nature conservation and biodiversity gain have been and continue to be created through quarry restoration than any other industrial activity. In partnership with conservation organisations, MPA members had created of over 8,300ha (83 sq km) of new priority habitat by the end of 2021, with a further 11,000ha (110sq km) in the pipeline.”

This year’s contest attracted record entries and the standard was extremely high according to the MPA judging panel whose job was tougher than ever. Criteria for selecting the winners included composition, relevance, setting, and the difficulty of capturing the image.

There are two categories to the competition – one for MPA member company employees and contractors, with another open to the 1,000s of people who work voluntarily on restored quarry sites that have been transformed into popular nature reserves, country parks and sites of special scientific interest.

The photo competition, which has run since 2015, has given rise to some truly exceptional wildlife photography (with many of the best examples included in the MPA book ‘Quarries & Nature: A 50 year success story’). Prizes of photographic equipment vouchers are awarded for first, second and third placed winners in the two categories.

The winners in both categories are as follows:

MPA Member Winners

Michael Cardus


Arcow Quarry, Settle,
North Yorkshire

Dark green fritillary butterflies feeding on a thistle

Adrian Radnor


Hereford Quarry,
Hereford, Herefordshire


Joint 3rd
Mike Belson

Aggregate Industries

(Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust)
Cossington Meadows, Leicester

Grey heron

Joint 3rd
Stuart Lawrence

Tudor Griffiths

Wood Lane Quarry,
Ellesmere, Shropshire


Volunteer Winners

Roy McDonald


(Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust)
College Lake Nature Reserve,
Tring, Buckinghamshire

Redwing catching worm

George Walthew


Kings Dyke Nature Reserve,
Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire

Bittern in reedbed

Joint 3rd
Jill Bewley


(Cotswold Lakes Trust) Manorbrook Lakes,
near Ashton Keynes, Wiltshire

Swan and cygnets

Joint 3rd
Paul Hilton

Mullaghglass Quarry,
Belfast, Northern Ireland

Common frogs spawning


Notes for editors:
All the images are available in high resolution on request.

Image: Michael Cardus receiving his prize from Beccy Speight, RSPB Chief Executive

About the Mineral Products Association:
The Mineral Products Association (MPA) is the trade association for the aggregates, asphalt, cement, concrete, dimension stone, lime, mortar and industrial sand industries. With the merger of British Precast, and affiliation of the British Association of Reinforcement (BAR), the British Calcium Carbonate Federation, the Cement Admixtures Association (CAA), CONSTRUCT, Eurobitume, MPA Northern Ireland, MPA Scotland and the UK Quality Ash Association (UKQAA), it has a growing membership of 520 companies and is the sectoral voice for mineral products. MPA membership is made up of the vast majority of independent SME quarrying companies throughout the UK, as well as the 9 major international and global companies. It covers 100% of UK cement and lime production, 90% of GB aggregates production, 95% of asphalt and over 70% of ready-mixed concrete and precast concrete production. In 2021, the industry supplied £22 billion worth of materials and services to the Economy. It is also the largest supplier to the construction industry, which had annual output valued at £178 billion. Industry production represents the largest materials flow in the UK economy and is also one of the largest manufacturing sectors.

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