ONE of the most scenic of Portland’s historic quarries has become the island’s latest nature reserve. The acquisition of a lease on Tout Quarry by Dorset Wildlife Trust brings protection for its rare wildlife and unique heritage landscape and enables the creation of the Portland Quarries Nature Park, an important legacy for Weymouth and Portland.

Tout Quarry, like other quarries on Portland, formerly produced the world famous Portland stone.

Now it is an outstanding haven for rare wildlife and for sculpture by artists including Anthony Gormley, creator of the Angel of the North, thanks to the involvement of the Portland Sculpture and Quarry Trust. The quarry provides a sheltered habitat amongst the limestone for nationally important colonies of chalk hill and small blue butterflies and a variety of silver studded blue butterfly that is found nowhere but Portland.

Also unique to the island is the Portland hawkweed and several lichens, making its disused quarries among Dorset’s most precious habitats. Now it joins the existing DWT reserve at King Barrow Quarries and other sites across the island protected for wildlife and the enjoyment of people as Portland Quarries Nature Park. Dorset Wildlife Trust will manage the Tout Quarry reserve to protect its rare wildlife by removing invasive alien plants that threaten to take over the limestone grassland. Brian Bleese, director of operations at Dorset Wildlife Trust, said: “Tout Quarry is a wonderful place for people and wildlife. “Thanks to the support of Geoff Smith and Portland Stone Firms Ltd, DWT will be able to maintain it as an open access site for local people and visitors to enjoy.”

Tim Clotworthy, estates manager of Portland Stone Firms Ltd, said: “We have been working very closely with Brian Bleese and his team at Dorset Wildlife Trust to complete the lease which will enable this old quarry to be protected and the wildlife value enhanced by the trust for future generations to enjoy.”