Bleak Hill Sand & Gravel Quarry, Somerley
The land known as Bleak Hill lies to the north of Ringwood, Hampshire and has been used as a sand and gravel quarry since 2000. It's use was a natural extension to the former Hamer Warren Quarry which lies just to the south. Hamer Warren itself was in use from 1954 to 2000 and now forms a restored area of land which is used for fishing and recreation. This case study provides a brief insight into a Hampshire sand and gravel quarry.
Bleak Hill I & Bleak Hill IIThe Bleak Hill site is divided into Bleak Hill I and Bleak Hill II. Extraction of mineral first started in 2000 in the south-eastern part of Bleak Hill I with the gradual rolling-restoration of the land occuring as the extraction face advanced westwards. Move the clocks forward to 2010 and extraction has started in Bleak Hill II and ceased in Bleak Hill I, with works focussing on importing inert waste (construction & demolition waste) into the site for use in the restoration of Bleak Hill I back to agriculture.
Site Code: NF091
Size of site: Approximately 48 hectares
Date extraction commenced: circa. 2000
Date extraction commenced at Bleak Hill II: January 2009.
Total Reserves of Mineral to be worked: Approximately 2.530 million tonnes
Planning permissions for the site:
Extraction of and sand and gravel with backfilling of inert waste and restoration back to agricultural use;
Storage and recycling of inert waste construction materials to produce a secondary aggregate and the screening of soil.
The site has been worked in an east to west direction across a total of 8 phases. At the time of the last visit in October 2010, the restoration of phases 1-4 had been completed and the restoration of phase 5 back to approved final levels was almost finished.
A Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) also lies adjacent to the west of Bleak Hill I, whilst on the southern boundary of phase 6 there is an active sand martin face which has proved to be a successful home for sand martins for the past two years.
PlanningThe site operates a campaigned extraction process where the mineral is worked every 3-4 months for approximately 4 weeks each year. Therefore, there can be up to 4 campaigns each year. Extraction of sand and gravel in Bleak Hill II began in January 2009. In 2010 for example, campaign extraction in Bleak Hill II occurred only once at the end of April for 3 weeks. The site was initially to be worked in a east to west direction, but CEMEX agreed to revise their working scheme in 2007 to reduce the noise impact of the extraction process on nearby residents.
Once mineral has been dug from the ground it is then stockpiled in Phase 7. The aggregate processing plant is also located here and is used to process the extracted mineral into different grades of sand and gravel.
The plant is to remain here until mineral extraction has finished in Bleak Hill II. Once this has been achieved, the last remaining deposits of mineral underneath where the plant is situated can be extracted and processed.
The two photos below show both mineral extraction and subsequent mineral processing taking place on site at Bleak Hill I.