Nottingham

Bentinck Void special science status extended

Bentinck Void
Image caption The open cast mine closed in 1999 and has since attracted wildlife

A former opencast coal quarry in Nottinghamshire has been given further legal protection and extended as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Bentinck Void, is the home to Great Crested Newts and protection has been increased from 5.4 hectares (13.3 acres) to 34.6 hectares (85.4 acres).

Natural England, which advises the government, said the site was to be known at Annesley Woodhouse Quarries.

Plans to dump waste at the site were refused in March 2010.

The Waste Recycling Group (WRG) had first applied to use the site 13 years ago.

But, after a lengthy debate, the county council followed officers' advice and rejected the scheme due to its likely impact on the local ecology.

The plan had been the focus of sustained local opposition.

Residents had said the site was inappropriate as, since its closure as a mine in 1999, it had become a haven for wildlife.

As well as its population of great crested newts, the former quarry lake, ponds and surrounding land are home to important breeding populations of smooth newts, common frogs and common toads.

Grassland

Breeding amphibians are not represented as features of special interest in any other Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in the East Midlands, making the site special in the region, a spokesman for Natural England said.

The boundary also takes in special habitats of lowland calcareous grassland and flower-rich marshy grassland in the area.

Steve Clifton, Natural England's SSSI designations adviser said: "We are really pleased that we have the approval to notify such an important site for the county, and will now work closely with the landowner to agree the best way forward to ensure that its special features are protected.

"Sites of Special Scientific Interest are the country's best wildlife and geological sites and are increasingly important for plants and animals that find it more and more difficult to survive in the wider countryside."

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