Soil Surveys, Environmental Assessment & Land Management

Land Research - Case Study

Ball Mill Quarry

Ball Mill Quarry at Grimley in Worcestershire, now owned by Tarmac plc, has been operating since 1949. Planning permissions were granted in the 1950s, 1970s and 1980s for mineral extraction from land at Retreat Farm and Tinkers Coppice Farm. Land Research Associates’ first involvement was in 1999, when an agricultural restoration on Retreat Farm was one of fifty mineral site restorations studied as part of a five year research project funded by the former Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Our investigation there showed that the land had been restored to a similar agricultural quality as existed prior to working.

In June 2009 LRA was approached to help support an appeal against Worcestershire County Council’s refusal of planning permission to work an area of land known as Church Farm South. A soil resource and agricultural land quality survey of the application area had been carried out by LRA in 2003 as well as across two already permitted quarry extensions - Church Farm East (2001) and Church Farm West (2005). Permission for working Church Farm South had been refused on two grounds - unacceptable impacts on 1) landscape and 2) best and most versatile agricultural land. 


A report was prepared demonstrating how the good quality topsoil and subsoil available from the better quality agricultural land would be conserved, handled and used to restore the half of the extraction area that was planned to be returned to agricultural use. Examples of high quality agricultural restorations were cited from our 1990s research project including the Retreat Farm site. On the basis of this evidence, Worcestershire County Council conceded that an agricultural reason for refusal could no longer be sustained. Planning permission was eventually granted after a short inquiry confined solely to consideration of landscape impacts. 

LRA is expert in soil resource assessments for quarry and landfill sites, and reinstatement to agriculture, woodland or habitat afteruses. If you have a similar project you wish to discuss, or have a related enquiry, please contact Mike Palmer on +44 (0)1509 670570 or