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LAFARGE - Barry’s Bid To Bring Biodiversity To Readymix Plants

THRIVING wildlife is not exactly the first thing you associate with a concrete plant. But Lafarge readymix sites in Norfolk are proving concrete and biodiversity can be the best of friends.

Encouraged by sector supervisor Barry Hewitt, workers at Costessey, Great Yarmouth, Snetterton and Earsham have built and erected a selection of bird boxes.

Two boxes are already being used by nesting tits with mummy and daddy birds darting in and out with food to satisfy their offspring’s voracious appetites.

Barry, who has worked for Lafarge Aggregates & Concrete UK for 20 years, said:

“The company takes its commitment to encouraging biodiversity, protecting wildlife and enhancing habitat extremely seriously.
“Hundreds of new wildlife habitats have been created thanks to the restoration work at our quarries and we have restored natural wetlands and ancient woodland.
“We manage two National Nature Reserves and 17 Sites of Special Scientific Interest so we knew our concrete works had quite a pedigree to live up to.
“But I’m a huge wildlife fan and am totally convinced that biodiversity can be achieved at a readymix plant.”

Backed by management and inspired by the company’s biodiversity successes with site restoration and habitat creation, Barry set about bringing nature into the Norfolk operations.

One of the simple initial steps was to leave pieces of tin around the site – where they would not prove hazardous – to attract bugs and beetles underneath.

Then Barry asked for volunteers among the site staff to make bird boxes using wood from old pallets.

Taking blueprints from the internet, enthusiastic concrete batchers spent their spare moments knocking together boxes of various shapes and sizes aimed at attracting a variety of bird species.
Barry said:

“All the work was done voluntarily by the lads in their own time and because we went through a really busy spell it ended up that it was quite late in the breeding season before we were able to put the boxes up.
“But despite that we have had blue tits go in one of the boxes at Costessey and Great Tits go in a box at Great Yarmouth.
“The birds are quite at home in the boxes even though the sites are bustling with people and activity.
“The blue tits for example are nesting in a box hanging on the chain link fence at the back of the washhouse. It’s fantastic watching them come and go.”

Although the other boxes which were erected have not been adopted this year the expectation is once the breeding season comes around again the birds will find the readymade retreats irresistible.

More boxes are planned for next year, including robin, wren and tit-friendly forms and a bigger version intended to attract nesting owls.

Bugs and bird boxes are not the only elements of Barry’s biodiversity brainwave.
When time allows he and the other operatives will be building wooden troughs to accommodate flowers and vegetables.

The troughs will be hung from handrails to add a splash of colour to sites, as well as attracting wildlife and providing fresh greens.

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