Campaign to Protect Rural England - Somerset

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Quarries and minerals in Somerset

Small scale quarrying of local stone, Capton Small scale quarrying of local stone, Capton


Quarrying is big business and it provides many jobs in Somerset and crucial supplies of stone and aggregate for the whole nation.

Somerset has a diverse geology, varying in age from Silurian rocks (425 million years old) in the core of the Mendip Hills, to recent alluvial and peat deposits on the Somerset Levels which are just a few thousand years old. Virtually all of Somerset’s rocks are sedimentary in origin, but this still provides a considerable variety of building stones.

Quarrying for building stones has occurred in Somerset since at least Roman times, and traces of this activity can still be seen in the Mendip Hills. Today, the Mendip area contains very large, active limestone quarries although the stone is extracted mainly for aggregate rather than building purposes. These quarries, supplying national demand, have a significant impact on our landscape and our people in parts of Somerset. Noise, dust and heavy lorry traffic are daily issues and, too often, landscapes are left scarred by extraction.

Local stone for either conservation repair or to maintain traditional character in new buildings is still needed and there are several small quarries supplying this market. Peat extraction for garden use also still takes place on the Somerset Levels and Moors.

Our view

CPRE aims to reduce the damage to the countryside from quarrying by encouraging the more efficient use of aggregates and managing demand. We believe this can be achieved through recycling, making greater use of alternatives and reducing waste in construction.
Our dedicated volunteers have played an active part in the consultation process for the Somerset Minerals Local Plan during 2014 and we regularly scrutinise planning applications for quarry extensions & restoration plans.  We are also members of the Mendip Quarrries Advisory Group.

Can you help? Minerals volunteers needed

Can you help us to protect the rocks and minerals that are the very foundations of our countryside? Our volunteers work really hard to ensure that sustainability issues are kept at the forefront of plans for future development of our minerals industry by commenting on planning applications and, recently, the emerging Somerset Minerals Plan. This work will be even more important in future years if fracking becomes a real prospect.
If you know your geology and you think you have the skills to help, please do let us know.


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Somerset patchwork landscape