The Swale and Ure Washlands Project (SUWP) is a working partnership managed by the Lower Ure Conservation Trust (LUCT), set up following consultation on North Yorkshire County Council’s Minerals Local Plan, when consultees identified the need to provide a broader, more strategic approach to mineral site after-use, since often the great potential for nature conservation and public amenity was not fully realised.

The project’s overall aim is to develop a unique and fascinating area for nature conservation as well as a place where people, the historic landscape and industry can co-exist. To achieve this vision, it is hoped to create a sustainable network of wetland habitats and community assets from the former mineral workings in the area, in particular identifying opportunities for recreation, preserving cultural heritage and interpreting the past. An important part of this vision is to see the local community become involved and share a sense of pride in their environment.

The project’s aim is to work with government departments, conservation bodies, local communities and the minerals industry to make strategic plans and identify appropriate priorities for wildlife and people. A primary objective is to develop and help deliver a Mineral Site After-use Strategy, providing a strategic view of the after-use of mineral extraction sites in the project area.

The Landscape Agency was subsequently commissioned by LUCT to work up a non-statutory document to serve as guidance to support the Minerals Local Plan.

The Strategy aims to assist the mineral planning authority, mineral operators, developers and other interested groups, to consider proposed after-use schemes within a wider landscape context and to develop schemes which contribute positively to the landscape, helping to deliver the vision of the Swale and Ure Washlands project.

The Strategy is a 10-year document with a suggested review in five years’ time, a timescale generally compatible with the timescale for preparation and subsequent review of the Minerals Local Plan.

Specifically, the document aims to provide the following benefits:

  • Provide the minerals industry with focussed, practical, strategic guidance on how the after-use of former mineral sites can be used to protect and enhance amenity and the environment.
  • Identify priorities for increasing bio-diversity to maximise the nature conservation potential of former mineral sites.
  • Provide new community amenities available to all.
  • Involve local communities in projects which enhance their cultural environment, promoting pride in the area.
  • Provide an educational resource for mineral operators and the public.
  • Contribute positively to the local economy through increased numbers of visitors.
  • Preserve cultural heritage.
  • Protect water resources.

The project area comprises not only the washlands habitats but also several market towns, home to the majority of people who work and spend their leisure time in the area. Within the project area, ‘Core areas’ have been identified which contain the main areas affected by mineral extraction, and where most scope exists for the minerals industry to contribute to an enhanced landscape for people and wildlife.

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