Recycling and recovery

Sand martins make former landfill site their home

A former landfill near Gateshead has become a biodiversity hotspot.

Path Head Quarry landfill stopped accepting waste in January 2017 and is now being returned to nature by SUEZ recycling and recovery UK. As part of extensive restoration works, SUEZ have constructed a bespoke sand martin bird habitat which scores of sand martins are now calling home.

The habitat was constructed from purpose-made 1.5m high pre-cast concrete wall units, complete with nesting holes and a sandy finish. SUEZ took inspiration and advice from the RSPB and their similar habitat at Saltholme Nature Reserve in Cleveland.

Alongside sand martins, the restoration of the site has been designed to provide valuable habitat for the dingy skipper butterfly, a variety of butterfly which was attracted to the derelict quarry site prior to its reclamation by landfilling. SUEZ have reduced the number of active landfills it operates by almost 95% and have returned almost 100 former landfills to nature since the 1980s.

Jamie McTighe, SUEZ’s Operations Manager at Path Head, said: “We’re delighted that the sand martin habitat has taken off! We worked closely with the Environment Agency and local ecology specialists to ensure we created the best possible habitat. We’re looking forward to completing the restoration and are currently expecting that the site’s public footpaths and bridleways will be open to the public in 2021.”