Landing success

A decommissioned military site in Newtownhamilton has been turned back into domestic gardens by using quality compost to restore the soil, which following its use as a helicopter landing area for 25 years had been made virtually barren.
The trial in County Armagh saw the Ministry of Defence (MOD), Defence Estates and the Landscape & Regeneration Programme at WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) work together to demonstrate that BSI PAS 100 compost could be used to effectively return decommissioned military sites back to their former uses.
The Normalisation programme put in place in 2005 by the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mr Peter Hain, requires that militarised land be vacated and returned to the original owners in the condition – where practical – in which it was originally taken. Although once used for domestic gardens, the Newtonhamilton site consisted of poorly-drained heavy clay loam, mixed with peat, large stones and construction debris.
After removing the larger stones and debris, the site drainage was improved and 90m³ of BSI PAS 100 compost was imported from local supplier Natural World Products (NWP). Compost helps the soil in a number of ways, including boosting its organic matter content, reducing erosion and minimising water logging – all essential factors for land restoration.
Mixed at a volume of 30% compost to 70% imported soil, it was spread and incorporated into the soil using small tractors. An agricultural-based seed mix was then sown into the new soil to help establish grass coverage before the handover.
WRAP’s Northern Ireland Manager, Dr Ian Garner, said: “We’re extremely pleased with the results of the trial. The rapid and sustained development of lush, green grass proved that the use of BSI PAS 100 compost is ideal for this application. I hope the success of the trial will now help to inform other landscaping and regeneration projects in Northern Ireland and that we’ll see greater uptake of this valuable material throughout the country.”
A spokesman for Defence Estates said they were impressed at the results achieved and concluded: “The grass germinated quickly and established well, a result that could not have been achieved on the original acidic, low nutrient top soil layer. Being able to source the compost locally from NWP has allowed Defence Estates to add value to the project in terms of sustainability, by using recycled materials and reducing the distance goods had to be transported. Working with WRAP has allowed us not only to reinstate the Newtownhamilton site to its original condition, but also to learn valuable techniques which can be put into practice elsewhere.”
BSI PAS 100 compost is a safe, consistent and reliable material manufactured to strict guidelines. WRAP’s Landscape & Regeneration programme has a large number of case studies relating to its use in regeneration projects.

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