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Locally Important Geological and Geomorphological Sites

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Sites of Geological Conservation Importance within Shropshire

It is a requirement of the Planning Application process that 'Features of Geological Conservation Importance' be notified. This comprises Section 14 in the standard application form for Full Planning Permission within Shropshire, alongside 'Biodiversity'.

How do you know if a site is of such importance? Shropshire Council holds a list of such sites. This can be consulted by members of the public, and those sites accessible or viewable from public rights of way can also be located here. Access to the full database is by prior appointment with the Environmental Records Officer, tel. 01743 252 573.

Our lives and environment are very much influenced by geodiversity, from the distribution of mineral resources and water supplies to the pattern of settlements, farming and wildlife. Geodiversity forms the basis of our understanding of the natural and historic environment as well as being able to tell us fascinating stories about the history of the Earth, its ancient plant and animal inhabitants, climates and environments. Geodiversity also underpins biodiversity (the variety of life on Earth), with the soil forming the link between them.

 

What are Geodiversity and Geoconservation, and why are these of importance?

Geodiversity is a word used to describe the geological variety of an area. This includes the variety of rocks, fossils, minerals and soils, and all aspects of landscape, cultural and economic activity which results from this variety.

Geoconservation concerns the identification and care of sites which make a special contribution to our Earth heritage. It is equally important that regionally important geological materials, such as specimens, documents and records, are cared for properly too. The Geoconservation Commission provides the national framework, promoted within the County by the Shropshire Geological Society, aiming to ensure that we pass this heritage on in good order to future generations for investigation, education and enjoyment. This is achieved by recording, by promoting improved access, and by land management agreements to conserve and, where possible, enhance geological interest.

 

LGS (formerly known as RIGS)

The approach adopted nationally to deal with these issues uses the concept of LGS (which stands for Locally Important Geological and Geomorphological Sites). It is used as a designation to help to protect the sites that are important to the science of geology both to further our understanding of the processes involved in the evolution of the Earth and to teach the processes we already understand to the next generation of earth scientists. They are designated on the basis of four criteria that are used nationally. These are:

In Shropshire these criteria are scored from 0-5. The higher the score the more important the site.

 

The Shropshire Geodiversity Action Plan (SGAP)

The measures needed to conserve the County's geological heritage are set out in the Geodiversity Action Plan for Shropshire (published in 2007 and reviewed annually), a summary of which is available as a leaflet.

The full SGAP can be seen by clicking here for the summary and by clicking here for the full Plan.

Once designated LGS are listed, Local Authority Development Plans to try and protect the important features they show. Some sites may be managed and promoted to publicise their features to a wider audience.

 

Why does geology need protecting?

There are many threats to our geological heritage. Whereas mining and quarrying can reveal many important clues (and many quarries now contain LGS), excavations can also destroy good exposures or make places unsafe to visit. Other threats include infill by rubbish either as a planned landfill site or by illegal dumping, and new building construction, obscuring previously clear and accessible exposures.

 

Where are LGS in Shropshire?

There are now over 300 sites designated in Shropshire as LGS (formerly known as RIGS). These vary from small stream exposures containing obscure but very important fossils to large quarries with obvious fossils or structures to 'in your face geology' that can be seen for miles around. Click here for a map to see where these sites are, or here for a searchable list of sites.