£100k Investment From AG Protects in Decline Sand Martin Colony

A protected bird species is thriving at one of Northern Ireland’s major quarry sites a year after owners invested £100k in a biodiversity project to nurture wildlife on site.

The Pomeroy site of leading manufacturer, AG, is now home to 400 nesting pairs of Sand Martins, a breed which has been in steady decline here in NI over the last number of decades. Following the appointment of a conservation manager as part of the six-figure biodiversity drive last year, several measures were put in place; including the installation of an extraction plant, which created artificial banks, making the perfect home for these rare birds, usually found near rivers and streams.

With parts of the plant sectioned off during breeding season to allow the birds to reproduce undisturbed, the RSPB NI has named it as one of the most important colonies for sand martins in the country.

AG’s biodiversity team has also named the Bee as its headline species of the year after discovering concentrations of the solitary mining bee. The team consulted with the NIEA on their plans to champion this breed, creating micro habitats suitable for these important pollinators to thrive.

Ed O’ Hara, conservation manager at AG, said: “Championing biodiversity is of primary importance for AG and the measures we’ve put in place are testament to that.

“We’re delighted that a year on from us announcing our investment in conservation projects across our sites, the results are beginning to show. The big triumph for us is that our Pomeroy plant has been named as one of the most important colonies for Sand Martins – not something you’d immediately associate with a manufacturing plant.

“We’re very excited about the bees at our Fivemiletown site as well and welcomed the advice of theNIEA in creating the right conditions for them. We have a long history of protecting the wildlife we work alongside to uphold the natural ecosystem. We’re well aware of the importance of being agood neighbour, not just to humans, but to our native animals too.”

AG’s biodiversity team worked closely with the RSPB throughout the conservation initiative. Sean Woods, Conservation Advisor at RSPB commented,


“It is always encouraging to see how well thesand martins are doing at Pomeroy Quarry. The sand martin is currently amber listed and has seen a decline of more than 25% in the last 25 years across the island of Ireland. Through managing bare faces for these birds, AG has provided a home for these birds, while also providing excellent foraging habitat throughout the wider site. This work is to be commended and I look forward to see how the population continues to grow across the site.”