environmental stewardship

Enhance environmental stewardship

100% of mineral extraction sites to have biodiversity, geodiversity and restoration management plans

“Our woodland creation programme is not just centred on planting trees, but also about bringing people together to enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits of creating new woodland.”

Leah Galloway, Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust


Protecting the environment is central to our operations. We work hard to minimise the impacts of our activities and carefully manage the biodiversity and archaeological heritage that can be present on our sites, taking opportunities to provide a net positive enhancement. 


187,000 acres

under our stewardship

2,109 Hectares

priority habitat created since 2010

200,000 trees

planted over the last 5 years

Environmental Management

A core part of our business is extracting aggregates from the ground and turning them into essential construction products such as concrete, asphalt, cement and lime. These materials are vital for creating the homes, schools, hospitals, transport infrastructure, clean water and energy on which we all rely. We take great care to do this in a responsible, safe and sustainable way, respecting our neighbours, protecting the environment, managing and mitigating any potential impacts.

We have a robust environmental management system and site procedures in place to help manage the environmental impacts of our activities and operate to the highest standards of environmental management and control. Our environmental management system is embedded at all our operational sites and is subject to independent assessment and certification to ISO 14001, the internationally recognised Environmental Management Standard. 

We report all incidents that occur on site, no matter how minor and welcome feedback on operations from members of the public and other interested parties. We ensure thorough investigations are conducted and, where appropriate, make changes to our operations to prevent reoccurrence.

Air quality

Through continuous investment, rationalisation and innovation, we take steps to ensure our business has a negligible impact on air quality. Particulate emissions may arise from point sources, such as cement production stacks or as fugitive emissions from quarrying, open storage of materials, transfer of materials through uncovered conveyors, and from loading and unloading operations. In cement and lime operations, NOX is formed during the combustion of fuels and SOX from the oxidation of sulphur in raw materials, with only a small proportion from sulphur present in certain fuels. At our plants we employ the best available technology to abate and minimise emissions to the atmosphere. We have made significant reductions in these emissions since 2000, our baseline year.

We also recognise the need to minimise exhaust emissions from our heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) to help tackle air quality issues, particularly in urban locations and to meet requirements for deliveries in low emission zones in cities. We have a rolling programme of upgrading the HGVs used by our contract hauliers and require them to move to new vehicles with the latest generation of Euro VI engines.

Cement and Lime performance data 2020

Cement emissions 2020

Unit Particulates Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) Oxides Of Nitrogen (as NO2)
Tonnes 80 594 2025
kg/tonnes PCe 0.04 0.33 1.11
% reduction compared to 2000 92% 93% 61%

Lime emissions 2020

Unit Particulates Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) Oxides Of Nitrogen (as NO2)
Tonnes 15  19 61
kg/tonnes CaO 0.04 0.04 0.14 
% reduction compared to 2000 95% 96%  48% 

* PCe – Portland cement equivalent, a standard industry normalising factor representing the tonnes of Portland cement manufactured from a tonne of cement clinker.

** CaO – Quicklime

Enhancing and restoring biodiversity

Tarmac has a long-standing commitment to protecting and enhancing biodiversity in and around our sites. With over 187,000 acres of land under our stewardship and nearly a quarter of our operational sites containing sites of special scientific interest (SSSI) or other designated area of high biodiversity value, we recognise we have a duty to manage these assets responsibly to enable positive outcomes for our business, the community and future generations. Each of our quarry sites has a biodiversity management plan or site mineral restoration plan, often produced in collaboration with regulators and wildlife bodies such as; The Wildlife Trusts, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and community groups. These plans, guide our approach in managing biodiversity at a local level and help to ensure that opportunities to support, enhance and create biodiversity are taken throughout the operational life of a site.

At the end of their working life our sites are returned to their original use, such as agriculture, while others have the potential to be transformed into nature reserves and wetland habitats.  

Our site at Holborough Marsh, on the outskirts of Snodland, Kent, is a good example. The thriving 35-hectre nature reserve, once part of Tarmac’s largest cement and quarrying operations, has been classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and has a superb range of wetland habitats with tidal brackish reedbeds, freshwater marsh, marshy grassland, scrub, woodland, freshwater and saline dykes. The site is also very important for a diverse range of birds and is also has a thriving population of water voles. 


Over the last few years, we have created a large number of wetland habitats through our site restoration schemes, which are helping to re-establish these precious environments, attracting many rare and priority species across the country.

Tarmac has been working with Natural England for number of years on the conservation management of the Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) at Swarth Moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. We have funded a project led by Leeds University, which lead to the development of a "re-wetting scheme", to counter the drying out of the peat surface. Ecosystems like peatlands are capable of absorbing and storing large amounts of carbon dioxide known as “carbon sinks,” making them ideal for helping to tackle climate change.

In 2020, Tarmac passed strict assessments to become an ‘approved body’ for managing National Nature Reserves. This status resulted in approval from Natural England to expand King’s Wood and Rushmere National Nature Reserve in Bedfordshire, an area of land dedicated to the conservation, study and enjoyment of England’s wildlife.

Many of our sites are havens for wildlife, with a variety of animals, birds, insects and reptiles making them their home. At Harden Quarry in Northumberland, we regularly have visits from red squirrels which are on the endangered species list.

In some circumstances land holdings may also be returned to the community for recreational use, and where demand requires, sites may be used to support local jobs through industrial or retail use or to provide much needed housing.

Working in partnership

We continue to work in partnership with local wildlife trusts and other organisations invested in protecting the environment across the UK. 

Tarmac is a steward of Panshanger Park, a historic park and garden that was previously quarried as is now in the final stages of restoration. In partnership with Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and Herts County Council, we are working with various stakeholders to implement a Biodiversity Management Plan for the area. This plan will protect and nurture the diverse wildlife and showcase the stunning landscape.

During 2020, we launched our new volunteering initiative in partnership with the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT). The ‘People and the Planet’ commitment will involve volunteers managing several volunteering activities including planting trees, woodland management and removal of old plastic tree protectors.

Archaeological heritage

Our approach to environmental stewardship extends to playing an active role in supporting archaeological discoveries, as well as conservation work. We facilitate a number of archaeological digs and investigations each year to determine if any important historical sites exist on our land. Over the last few years, we have supported with various discoveries. Back in 2016, a mammoth tusk, predicted to be around 50,000 years old, was discovered at our Clifton quarry, which was displayed at Worcester City Museum and Art Gallery.

In 2019, a Stone Age settlement site was found at Tarmac’s Killerby quarry. Where the remains of two buildings were uncovered which could be the UK’s first example of a house in which the timbers used to construct it have survived. 

Looking forward

Having reached the end of 2020, we are about to launch the next phase of our sustainability strategy. Protecting and enhancing the natural environment will continue to play an integral role in our new strategy. The 2020 lockdowns have amplified the important role that natural capital plays in society’s wellbeing and as a large landowner we are committing to achieving net positive environmental outcomes across our sites. The management of our land assets provides us with opportunities to contribute to national biodiversity and land management strategies, appropriately manage natural capital, use those assets to retain carbon and mitigate the impacts of climate change and continue to build collaborative partnerships and deliver biodiversity net gain.