Appetising, no ?! Don’t I get to go to some nice places in this job……
Actually, slag heaps are pretty interesting places if you’re a botanist, often with interesting chemistry quite different from their surroundings – maybe alkaline in an acid area, or with metal contamination, and they always seem to have some ecological oddity.
This particular slag heap originated at an iron and steel works in a limestone area, so has metal-rich areas which support open mosaic habitat and herb rich calcareous grassland. The site is hiving with invertebrates and is known to support some interesting species.
I found some wacky plants I’d never seen before, like whorled clary, looking like a giant hedge woundwort on an open area next to the railway line. And in the middle of some herb rich grassland, a single plant of shrubby cinquefoil. How odd. Most of the site has dense scrub and broadleaved woodland covering it now, but nothing that a bit of management couldn’t sort out.
I had a really interesting time doing my Phase 1 habitat survey at this site and happily none of the interesting bits will be affected by the proposed scheme. A win-win situation.