A disused quarry in Devon could become a nature reserve under the new plans.

Thousands of acres of old quarries could be turned into nature reserves to support wildlife such as natterjack toads, otters and nightingales, campaigners claim.

Conservation experts have produced a plan to work with council planners, landowners, quarry operators and local communities to help turn sites into habitats such as woods, wetlands and heathlands.

Under the plan the majority of quarries in England could be turned into wild areas, creating thousands of acres of space for threatened species, the RSPB said.

The plan marks a new phase in the Nature After Minerals scheme run by the RSPB and Natural England.
It is also supported by the Minerals Products Association which aims to establish high quality habitat on former quarry sites.
The RSPB believes almost 56,000 hectares of active mineral sites in England alone would be suitable for restoring into one or more of 17 different habitats which the Government listed as priorities for conservation.

Focusing efforts on sites close to existing habitat could mean targets to increase the amount of nine different landscapes including lowland heathland, wet reedbeds and grazing marshes could be met or even exceeded, the charity said.

But the RSPB's conservation director Mark Avery said conversion to wild habitat could become ''mired in bureaucracy'', and some councils needed to do more to help minerals sites become nature reserves.

"Quarries can have a major impact on the landscape - but once they have reached the end of their life they have a fantastic potential to deliver habitats for threatened wildlife," he said.
"There are some wonderful nature reserves up and down the country which have been created in former quarries, with wetlands for otters and wading birds, woodland for nightingales and woodpeckers, heathland for natterjack toads and grayling butterflies and much more besides.