The Impacts of Quarrying
The scale and technical proficiency of the modern quarrying means that it can have a major, potentially destructive, impact on archaeological remains and can result in significant harm to the significance of nearby heritage assets. But quarrying also offers rare potential to deliver new knowledge about our historic environment.
Historically, mineral workings have made significant impacts on the historic environment. Not only have aggregate quarries led to loss of archaeological sites, a significant loss of ancient monuments has also resulted from the quarrying of dimension stone for building, open-cast coal mining and the extraction of vein minerals and specialised deposits.
Impacts will vary depending on the type and scale of mineral extraction:
- There are impacts within the footprint of extraction eg. on archaeological remains.
- Noise, dust and the vibration caused by the regular passage of HGVs have the potential to damage the fabric of historic buildings, monuments and areas. Such traffic can also diminish our opportunities to enjoy and appreciate these assets.
- The surface disposal of mineral-working waste can prevent (or reduce) appreciation of historic sites.
- And inappropriate restoration of former extraction sites can disfigure the historic character of the landscape and compromise the setting of ancient monuments and other historic places.
Using a combination of different techniques (as required) can offer a good way to investigate historic sites and landscapes. Dialogue between heritage professionals, including Historic England, mineral planners and the minerals industry ensures that such approaches are carried out, and that mitigation meets appropriate standards.
It’s important that developer-funded investigations have clearly defined objectives. National and regional historic environment research frameworks set the underlying context. Jointly developed strategic approaches (to understanding the significance and distribution of historic sites and landscapes) help to identify significant sites as early as possible in the planning process. This leads to enhanced protection and the most cost-effective deployment of resources by the industry.