Former Quarry Site Attracts International Interest

A former limestone quarry at Wenlock Edge, Shropshire is attracting an ever-increasing number of visits from international geologists – all of whom are keen to study the site’s unique geology that has been revealed by the site’s industrial past.

This geological interest focuses on a period around 430 million years ago when Wenlock Edge was a coral reef. This local landmark, now popular with walkers, was beneath a warm tropical sea that was teeming with life and thriving in the sunshine.  Fast forward to the present day and with the quarrying work finished, the resulting ‘scar on the landscape’ is now in the process of being healed by the site’s current owner, renewable energy specialists Edge Renewables.
The company is well-underway with its ten-year plan to return around 85 percent of the site back to nature which is benefitting the landscape by encouraging the return of flora and fauna. The remaining space is

being used for its day-to-day activities producing renewable wood chip fuel for use in the biomass boiler systems the company has installed for its clients.
During the past year of work at Lea Quarry, Edge Renewables has played host to more than 200 geologists visiting in groups from as far afield as Germany and South America. Company director, Chris Bickerton, commented: “Geologists cannot believe what a fabulous resource has been left from the quarrying industry.  The rocks and fossils tell the most unique and amazing story about climate change, volcanic activity and life in the sea long before humans evolved.”
“The Wenlock Edge area is very important in geological circles and the name Wenlock has been used internationally since the 1830s to signify a specific part of what’s known as the Silurian Period.”

The company is currently awaiting outline planning permission for its proposal to open an educational visitor centre in the quarry where visitors, including school children, can learn about the important local geology, the environment and renewable energy.

An Open University tutor, Helen Phythian from Exeter, commented: “As a tutor, I am very grateful that Edge Renewables has allowed us to come and study at such an interesting and accessible site, enabling students to gain hands-on experience and see geology in context.” 

Edge Renewables has carried out extensive landscaping work to the former quarry site, including items such as reducing the slope of the quarry lagoon to provide a transitional margin between the land and the water and spreading out spoil heaps so that they can be reshaped to establish features that will benefit wildlife, insects and amphibians. The area will then be monitored closely and left to naturally regenerate, allowing rare limestone plants to colonise and make the area a haven for a plethora of wildlife.

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