New CAT966K XE Arrives for duty at the Quarry! April 04 2014

a photo of our lovely loader in action

Machine Features & Specifications

ENGINE CAT C9.3 Acert Diesel Engine with common rail fuel system and next generation turbocharger
CAT Clean Emissions Module including Diesel particulate filter with automatic on-the-go regeneration
Meets EU Stage IIB Regulations
Net Power 243 KW. 325 HP
TRANSMISSION Automatic Planetary Power Shift transmission with 4 forward and 3 reverse
Programmable virtual gears
Dual Mechanical and Hydraulic transmission working side by side
HYDRAULICS Electro Hydraulic implement controls with two valve operations
Load Sensing Hydraulics maintains performance and improve fuel efficiency
LOADER LINKAGE BUCKET Z-bar loader linkage
Supersized 4.8 general purpose performance series bucket with bolt on cutting edges
OPERATOR STATION High visibility Roll Over Protection System (ROPS) cab
Joystick steering control with speed sensing and force feedback
Storage spaces for lunch box, mobile phone, drinks etc.
Heated air suspension seat
High resolution colour display incorporating rear view camera
TYRES 26.5R25 Michelin XHA2
OPERATING WEIGHT Aprroximately 24,189 Kgs
FEATURES Telematic Link to Finnings at Cannock for engine and performance diagnostic
Weigh load equipment also with Telematic Link for enhanced performance analysis
Climate Control with Air Conditioning
Halogen work light package
Roading lights package
Product link installed
All round mirrors package
Ride control
Full Hydraulic enclosed wet brake
Engine air intake precleaner
Rear limited slip differential
Swing out rear fenders
Radio CD player
CAT Autolube
Hydraulic inclined ladder
ADDITIONAL SPECIFICATIONS Heated Convex Mirrors 938-980[R]
Safety Chevron
Blue Flashing Beacon
Smart reverse alarm
Extra long seat belt
Strobe Beacon

Milk & Money March 27 2014

Article about Cattle Bedding Stalls & Sands by Paul Watkins from The Dairy Farmer
(extract from article written in the 80s! - more emails required please to update us on current practices)

In his article, Paul Watkins said:

My ideas regarding cubicle beds are gaining clarity but the objectives have been clear enough for some time – to keep the cows clean and comfortable while using the minimum quantity of litter.

Many people have found an answer to the first and third of these three requirements by using a flat bed – by which I mean a flat concrete bed without any kerb to retain litter. This type of bed is in use on many farms. The farmers who use it are, in general, very satisfied with it.

I am now quite clear in my own mind. They are exceptionally easy to clean, they require very little litter, and farmers love them. But cows loathe them.

I have not reached this conclusion quickly or lightly, but my observation of cows on this and many other farms leaves me in no doubt. I described last spring how my own cows had shown their overwhelming preference for a lipped cubicle with sand, over a flat bed with a sprinkling of chopped straw.

Then last month in Herefordshire I was in a large cubicle house with lipped, sanded beds in which a trial row of eight cubicles has been concreted with flat beds. All the flat beds were empty, while nearly all the sand beds were occupied. Later the same day, in Shropshire, I saw cows lying in slatted passages rather than lie in flat beds which were thinly sprinkled with shavings, and in my experience a cow will lie on a bed of nails before she will lie on slats.

Finally, a friend in Wales, whose cows were reluctant to use flat concrete beds in a new bank of kennels, tried screwing a hardwood batten on to the timber kerb and bedding with sand and his refuser problem immediately disappeared. All this has been enough to convince me that, while flat beds are clean, clinical and efficient, they are not comfortable for the cows; those worries about swollen hocks were justified after all.

There will be much muttering in the flat bed strongholds, and I am well aware than many highly successful herds use them. I don’t dispute that they can be made to work. All I am saying is that, given the choice, most cows will prefer a bed with a reasonable depth of litter on it. It is not impossible to achieve this with a flat bed, but the absence of a lip obviously makes it much more difficult and much more extravagant in litter.

So what do we do? Do we go back to the old, lipped design with a 3” lip or upstand from a concrete bed? Only, I believe, where the slurry disposal system allows soft sand to be used as litter. Long straw on a lipped bed has to be very well managed to avoid the build-up of dung which gave the design a bad name and which led to the development of the flat bed.

But there are many farms on which sand cannot conveniently be used – for example, where the slurry has to flow along a channel or be pumped up into a tower – and where other considerations make it essential to use as little bedding as possible. In these circumstances, lipped beds would almost inevitably lead to dirty cows and mastitis; in fact, until we started using sand, it was very much what was happening on this farm.

So there does seem to be a need for a compromise design which is easy to keep clean but which retains enough litter to keep the cows comfortable.


Figure 3 shows one solution, which was worked out in collaboration with a farm manager friend in South Wales, and which has been working well on his farm for the past two winters.

Its basis is a wide step on which the cow can comfortably stand and off which dungpats can easily be scraped, but in front of which is a 2” deep depression which holds sufficient litter to make the cows comfortable. The bed is of no-fines concrete topped with a screed, and it has a very slight (1”) slope back towards the kerb.

Cardigan Sand & Gravel would like to add:

Cattle Bedding Sand comprises sub-rounded sand grains smaller than half a millimetre in diameter (to avoid abrasion) and contain less than 10% (normally about 5% by mass) of silt and clay particles smaller than one sixteenth of a millimetre in diameter.

The sand drains quite well and is frequently used as bedding for those cattle being dried off from milking.

Cubicare is essentially the same as Cattle Bedding Sand but with a higher silt/clay content (normally 7-10% by mass). This binds better into the cubicle causing less spillage into the passage. This is our most popular cattle bedding sand, and is for general use..

Cubicare Plus is similar to Cubicare but with an even higher silt/clay content (normally 15-25% by mass) and a small precentage of gravel particles. This bedding was produced in response to demand from those farmers demanding even less spillage from the cubicles in dry managed housing where the beds are kept bone dry and it works well in correctly designed cattle cubicles, subject to weather. When wetted the clay element in Cubicare Plus retains moisture and becomes like porridge. Therefore, this material should ideally be stored under cover before being placed in the cubicles. Belt-feeders and similar dispensing tools have difficulty dealing with damp cohesive materials as they need a free flowing medium to operate efficiently.

Sports Turf Research Institute - Rootzones, Sands & Top Dressing Materials for Sports Turf March 20 2014


Sports turf is a dynamic system with the properties of the turf varying according to the amount of play and level of compaction to which it is subjected. A build up of compaction will tend to reduce the permeability of the surface layer and this will be exacerbated if finer particles of mineral matter migrate to the surface as a result of wear and fine organic residues accumulate from the breakdown of grass material. On fine turf constructions, the accumulation of a thatchy layer of organic material will have an important effect on the impact and roll of golf balls and the speed of bowls running across a green. Maintenance operations are essential to control the potential deterioration of turf resulting from compaction and organic matter production and sand has a vital function in any maintenance programme.


The main uses of sand in the maintenance programme for a winter games pitch is to dilute accumulations of fine mineral and organic matter at the surface to retain the permeability of a pitch and to provide a firmer surface in wet weather. In these circumstances pure sand, with no soil amendment, is the preferred top dressing material. Sand or a sandy compost is also important to repair divots kicked out by the players, thus restoring the levels of the surface.

The advantages of sand are clearly seen in Fig. 13 which shows the effects of different rates of sand on a pipe drained sandy loam soil, the same soil with slit drains at 600 mm centres and a sand carpet construction. The sand rates of 0, 4, 8 and 16 kg/m2 per year correspond to annual applications of 0, 25, 50 and 100 tonnes of sand per year to a pitch of 6,250 m2. The advantages of higher grades of construction are evident with the sand carpet pitch retaining more cover during wear than the slit drained and particularly the pipe drained pitch. The sand carpet pitch also has a dry, firm surface where ball bounce, for example, is good. However, players find ball rebound values less than 15% unacceptable and the wet, muddy surface on some of the pipe drained and slit drained plots gave very low values indeed.

Sand application is important on all types of construction: where topsoil is present sand makes the surface layer less plastic in wet conditions giving a firmer and drier surface and on sand constructions it can be important in maintaining surface permeability and diluting organic material which can accumulate in the areas of lower wear, e.g. on the wings. On a slit drained construction the absence of protective sand dressings causes the slits to be sealed by play preventing rainfall from entering the slit system and causing waterlogged surfaces. In the example shown in Fig. 13 the grass cover on the sub-plots with no sand was zero compared to 43% where the equivalent of 100 tonnes per year was used and the wet, muddy surface on the slit drained plots with no sand gave ball rebound only 1% compared with 30% on the area with the highest rate of sand.

The results for the slit drained plots with no sand are similar to those of the pipe drained area, in other words the advantages of a £20,000 slit drainage scheme can disappear in less than 1 ½ seasons of wear because of the lack of adequate sand dressing. Indeed this trial and observations on actual pitches show that even a few months of play on a slit drained pitch with no sand dressing can negate the value of the drainage work.

Fig. 13: The effect of sand top dressing rate on ground cover and ball rebound on pipe drained, slit drained and sand carpet constructions receiving simulated football-type wear. (Adapted from Baker & Canaway [1989, 1990] – data for December 1988.)


On areas of fine turf the main purpose of top dressing is to preserve a true and level surface and to dilute the build up of thatch. Ideally an annual application of 5-6 kg/m2 of top dressing material will be used, with this quantity being divided into perhaps three applications to avoid excessive amounts of material on the surface at any one time. If the playing surface is on a heavy soil with poor drainage or has excess thatch, larger quantities should be applied in conjunction with a programme of hollow tinning so that the drainage and aeration of the surface layer can be improved.

The composition of the top dressing material may vary depending on the type of construction and the availability of topsoil materials or composts for the top dressing. Where a green has been constructed with a special rootzone mix it is important to use a top dressing material which matches the mix in terms of the quantity of sand and the sand type. This will preserve a continuity in the profile of the green. In the extreme case of a pure sand construction the size and uniformity of the sand should match that of the rootzone sand.

Where a golf green has been developed from a native soil which may have a relatively high silt and clay content, it is sensible to use a relatively light top dressing material in which the clay content has been diluted by sand to below 5% and the total silt and clay content should not exceed 10%. The use of a sand dominated by the medium sand size fraction (0.25-0.5 mm diameter) is preferred for the preparation of this type of top dressing mix.

Sands with a high content of fine material should be avoided as these can clog the surface and excessively coarse sands are not popular as it is difficult to work sand grains above 2 mm in diameter into the turf and coarse particles such as these will damage mowers and are unpopular with golfers and bowlers.

Consistency in the use of top dressing materials on fine turf is important and for instance, use of pure sand for perhaps a year followed by reversion to a sand-soil mix can form a root break. This thin layer of sand can have significant effects on the vertical movement of soil moisture and the penetration of grass roots will tend to reflect the moisture distribution within the soil.

In fine turf areas, the free lime content of the top dressing material can be critical. If the sand contains large quantities of shell or other calcareous material the pH of the surface layer will increase. This can have important effects on weed invasion, earthworm activity, turfgrass disease and the composition of grass species within the turf. In particular annual meadow-grass (Poa annua) will tend to invade the turf at the expense of the fescue (Festuca) and bent (Agrostis) species.

With regard to the build up of lime in a soil in relation to acidification by fertilisers it has been concluded that, to introduce a safety margin, the top dressing mix should contain no more than 0.5% calcium carbonates. If the soil component of the top dressing mix were lime-free a slightly higher lime content in the sand could be tolerated, e.g. a mix of 1 part soil:2 parts sand would still have a total lime content of <0.5% if the lime content of the sand were no more than 0.75%. There are, however, constraints on the ratio of soil to sand in a top dressing mix as the final blend of material must satisfy the physical requirements as well as those of lime content. If the total lime content will exceed 0.5% an alternative source of sand must be considered.

The Battle of the Aggregates Levy! March 20 2014

Ever since its introduction, the Aggregates Levy has been controversial within the UK. Sarah-Jane Williams, of Stephens Scown LLP, explains why the controversy is still raging

The Aggregates Levy was intro­duced in the UK as part of the Finance Act 2001 and came into force in April 2002 and is a tax imposed upon the commercial exploitation of rock, sand and gravel in the UK. The intention of the levy was to improve the environmental impact of the mining industry; encouraging use of secondary or recycled aggregates and to incorporate the environmental cost into the market price. The current rate of the levy is £2 per tonne and has been frozen at this rate since 2009.

As with any tax, Aggregates Levy was unpopular from the outset with the reliefs and exemptions being particu­larly controversial. The British Aggregates Association (BAA) has been fighting against the levy for over 11 years and contends that it has had a detrimental impact on some sections of the industry with a number of opera­tors going into liquidation. It is its belief that the levy constitutes State Aid as it penalises some UK operators financially but not others, which distorts competi­tion and is contrary to Article 107(1) Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (ex Article 87(1) of the EC Treaty).

Brief Background

In 2002 the BAA submitted its views to the European Commission believing the levy contained State Aid due to the exemption for exported aggre­gates, the exclusion of certain materials and the differing appli­cation of the levy in Northern Ireland.

At this stage the European Commission concluded the levy did not comprise State Aid. The BAA appealed to the General Court of the EU in 2006 seeking an annulment of the Commission's decision but the appeal was dismissed.

The BAA subsequently appealed to the European Court of Justice where the 2006 deci­sion was set aside and referred back to the General Court. In March 2012 the General Court annulled the Commission's origi­nal 2002 decision and referred it back for further consideration.

Following this success, the BAA requested the stay on its appeal be lifted and on 10 April, 2013 the Court of Appeal gave BAA permission to proceed to a full hearing (scheduled for 7-10 October 2013).

Recent Developments

The 2002 decision was annulled on the basis that the Commission had not sufficiently scrutinised whether the levy contained any State Aid in coming to its original decision. As a result of this the European Commission recently announced a Phase 11 investigation into the levy, full details of which have yet to be made public.

The UK Government issued Business Brief 24/13 on 16 August 2013 confirming that a formal investigation into the exemptions and release has commenced. The investigation is considering whether State Aid is contained in the exemptions and relief for the following materials:

Ball clay and china clay: Ball clay and china clay and spoil, waste and by-products resulting from their extraction or separation from any quantity of aggregate.

Other industrial materials: Anhydrite; barytes feldspar; fireclay; fluorspar; fuller's earth; gems and semi-precious stones; gypsum; any metal or the ore of any metal; muscovite; perlite;potash; pumice; rock phos­phates; sodium chloride; talc and vermiculite that are used as aggregate, and spoil from the separation of any of these indus­trial minerals from other rock with which it was won.

Coal, lignite, slate and shale: Material that is wholly coal, lignite, slate or shale and that is used as aggregate; mate­rial that is mainly but not wholly coal, lignite, slate or shale, and spoil from the extraction of or separation from any aggregate of coal, lignite, slate or shale.

Clay: Clay that is used as aggregate.

Spoil from industrial processes: Material that is mainly but not wholly spoil, waste or other by-products of any industrial combustion process or the smelting or refin­ing of metal.

Whether or not the levy constitutes State Aid requires an assessment of the relevant tax exemptions and whether or not they place the recipient in a more favourable position than competitors who pay the tax. It is generally defined as aid granted by a Member State to businesses which is generally incompat­ible with the common market because it has the potential to distort competition and affect trade between EU Member States. The EU Commission regulates the actions of Member States for actions which may inhibit competition and intra­community trade.

What Now?

The UK Government will have to answer a series of questions and provide evidence to the Commission supporting their view that the exemptions do not constitute State Aid. Whilst the investigations are ongoing there has been no request for the suspension of payments and HMRC stipulate in their 24/13 brief that those commercially exploiting aggregate in the UK have a continuing legal obliga­tion to pay the levy.

Should the European Commission and/or the Court of Appeal conclude the exemp­tions are State Aid, and therefore unlawful, there is fear in the industry that the businesses that have benefitted from the exemp­tions will have to repay that aid. This would have a detrimental impact and may make other operators insolvent.

The BAA has concluded in its press release dated 23 August, 2013 that it is deeply concerned by HMRC's IBM Revenue and Customs] flagrant disregard for EU State Aid law and by the potential risk posed to those companies which are being encouraged to continue with exemptions that are now subject to the investigation.

At a time when the UK Government is trying to promote growth in the business sector and to get the UK building again, it is clear that some of the exemptions imposed under the levy are hitting operators hard. Some businesses are withhold­ing payment of the levy pending the outcome of the Phase II investigation and operators may face enforcement action from the Treasury.

Those involved in the aggre­gates industry avidly await the outcome of the litigation currently going through the Court of Appeal and the subse­quent result of the Commission's investigations. The battle of the Aggregates Levy is set to continue and it is hoped that any decisions made will not maim the industry any further.

The Construction Products Regulation (CPR) applies from 1 July 2013 March 18 2014

The CPR aims at clarification of the basic concepts and of the use of CE marking; simplifica­tion of the procedures, so as to reduce the costs incurred by enterprises, in particular SMEs, and increased credibility for the whole system.

The key concept of the CPR is the declaration of performance (DoP), which is replacing the declaration of conformity (DoC) from the previous CPD. For every construction product covered by a harmonised standard or a European Technical Assessment, the manufacturer will draw up a declaration of performance with the intended use of the construc­tion product. Since 1 July 2013, all construction products placed on the EU market have to be CE marked.

The Commission's Delegated Act (adopted September 2013) will be transmitted to the European Parliament and the Council for their reaction. At the end of the procedure the Delegated Act (most probably a Regulation) will be published in the Official Journal of the EU.

Meanwhile, manufacturers can continue their practice to provide information about the performance of their products on a website. It is noted that a batch of the same product supplied to a single user can be covered by a single DoP and that a paper copy of the DoP should be supplied if the recipient of the product requests it.

What is a delegated act?

The Treaty of Lisbon creates a new category of legal act: delegated acts. The legislator delegates the power to adopt acts amending non-essential elements of a legislative act to the European Commission.

For example, delegated acts may specify certain technical details or they may consist of a subsequent amendment to certain elements of a legislative act. However, this delegation of power has strict limits. In effect, only the Commission can be authorised to adopt delegated acts. Furthermore, the legislator sets the conditions (Article 290 of the Treaty) under which this delegation may be implemented.

Delegated Act in CPR

Article 60 of the CPR, for the purposes of achieving the objectives of the Regulation, in particular removing and avoid­ing restrictions on making construction products available on the market, the following matters shall be delegated to the Commission, (...) inter alia:

(b) the conditions on which a declaration of performance may be electronically processed, in order to make it available on a website in accordance with Article 7;

(e) the adaptation of Annex III, table 1 of Annex IV, and Annex V in response to technical progress.

Delegated acts on DoP on a website, on Annex III (Declara­tion of Performance) and Annex V (Assessment and Verification of Constancy of Performance) meetings over July and September, the European Commission organised meetings on the Delegated Act (DA) on DoP on a website, on Annex III and Annex V.

The UEPG participated in the meetings. Following comments received, the European Commission should make an inter-service consultation. The documents should then pass through the Council and Parliament to approve or reject the Delegated Act, as no amend­ment is possible.

The Delegated Acts on DoP on a website should be published in early November. The European Commission will draft the conditions to use a website but will not address technical solutions available to fulfil those conditions, as a DA should not obstruct any technological development. A DA may not modify the responsibilities of the market surveillance authorities.

Following comments, the DA on Annex III and Annex V should be published by the beginning of 2014.

Next Steps -

UEPG Technical Committee (under the active chairmanship of Jean-Marc Vanbelle (FEDIEX), in cooperation with Construction Products Europe, is monitoring the issue. In September/October, UEPG will report on challenges encountered over the first phase of the implementation of the CPR, and send comments on Delegated Acts proposed.

Green Tech could blow GM crops out of water March 18 2014

The Universe – Sunday 22nd September 2013 by Fr Sean McDonagh

Teagasc research unit at the Department of Agriculture in Ireland are collaborating with two Irish scientists to develop a new technology which could increase the output of crops by up to 30%, reduce the need for expensive chemical fertilisers and also help reduce global warming by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and converting it into edible crops making GM crops obsolete.

The eco-friendly technology, called Vi-Aqua Water, was developed by Professor Austin Darragh and Dr JJ Leahy at the University of Limerick’s Department of Chemistry and Environmental Science.

Using natural elements of sunlight, water and carbon dioxide, the technology provides water with electromagnetic energy which will facilitate the metabolism of organisms. This, in turn, helps the organisms absorb nutrients. This technology will increase the natural immune system of plants and enhance root activity. It also stimulates photsynthesis and increases the absorption of carbon dioxide.

The technology is very simple, involving a biscuit-tin-sized unit which converts 24 volts of electricity into a radio signal which charges up the water using an antenna. Once the device is attached to a hose, thousands of gallons of water can be charged in ten minutes and the cost is minimal. Following extensive testing at Warrenstown Agricultural College, in County Meath, it is now being manufactured by ZPM Europe Ltd and being rolled out worldwide.

Professor Darragh said “Vi-Aqua makes water wetter and introduces atmospheric nitrogen into the water in the form of nitrates. It also helps rejuvenate soils by invigorating soil-based micro-organisms. We can also make water savings of at least 30%. When the water is treated it becomes a better solvent, which means it can carry more nutrients to the leaves and stem and percolate better down into the soil to nourish the roots, which in turn produces a better root system. Hence the reason you need less water and why you end up with larger and hardier crops.” This is very important as access to fresh water for human consumption, and especially agriculture, is becoming a major problem right across the globe.

Italy’s three largest agricultural co-ops are recommending the technology to the country’s farmers following recent crop trials and in India, government researchers have found that tea plant production could be increased by over a third while using far less water.

Scientists at Kew Gardens in London are also impressed, granting use of their official centuries old coat of arms on this new technology, which they have never done before. Impressed, the Kew Gardens botanists used the technology to restore to life a very rare orchid which had been lying dormant and practically dead since 1942. Amazingly, the orchid is now flourishing once again.

Lord Browne: Fracking will not reduce UK gas prices March 18 2014

Damian Carrington - The Guardian: Friday 29th November 2013

Fracking is not going to reduce gas prices in the UK, according to the chairman of the UK’s leading shale gas company.

“We are part of a well-connected European gas market and, unless it is a gigantic amount of gas, it is not going to have material impact on price” he said.

Browne said there was no evidence that fracking itself had caused water pollution in the US, but said there had been “issues to do with the leaking of gas into aquifers as a result of imperfect operations, mainly to do with the concreting of well casings.”

Ministers rejected the Royal Society’s recommendation in June that specific fracking regulations are drawn up, a suggestion Browne backs, arguing that the current patchwork of regulation from the energy department, the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive and planning rules are sufficient.

On Friday, energy minister Michael Fallon announced that the latest oil and gas licensing round had seen an all-time number of licenses awarded and that independent oil and gas companies would be encouraged to invest and undertake additional exploration. Lord Adair Turner, the former chairman of the Financial Services Authority and Committee on Climate Change, said that solar power costs had fallen “beyond our wildest dreams” by about 80% in five years.

Browne, once known as the “sun king” and who said he is now co-head of the largest private equity renewable energy fund in the world at Riverstone Holdings, said: “Solar is a very good technology and we should use more of it.”

New website now live March 15 2014

Well, here it is, our fine new website ready to take your orders for our wide range of washed sands and gravels.