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British Life and Culture

by Mandy Barrow

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British life and culture - England, Scotland and Wales
Natural Resources

What are Natural Resources?

Natural resources are things that occur naturally, and that are useful to us. They include fuels such as oil and natural gas, and materials such as iron ore, and timber.

Natural resources may be renewable or non-renewable

Renewable resources are those that are replaced in nature at a rate close to their rate of use e.g. plants, forests and animals. Care is needed to make sure resources are used sustainably and not over- harvested. There are non-living renewable resources too such as hydroelectric power, solar power, biomass fuel, and wind power.

Non-renewable resources exist in fixed amounts or are used up faster than they can be replaced in nature e.g. fossil fuels. (Fossil fuels could be counted as renewable but as they take millions of years to form they are not practically considered 'renewable'.)

What are Britain's Natural resources?

  • Coal,
  • petroleum,
  • natural gas - found in the British sector of the North Sea
  • zinc
  • tin,
  • limestone,
  • iron ore,
  • salt,
  • slate
  • clay,
  • chalk,
  • gypsum,
  • lead,
  • silica,
  • arable land

Mines and Factories

During the 19th century Britain used to have many coal and iron mines and had the natural resources to make textiles, steel and ships. Today, coal and textiles can be produced more cheaply in other countries and so many British factories and mines have closed.

Areas like south Wales, central Scotland, the north of England (the Midlands, Merseyside, Manchester, West Yorkshire and Newcastle) and London were important industrial centres

Coal (non- renewable resources)

Coal mining

Britain has large deposits of coal, mined for more than 300 years. For most of the 19th and 20th centuries, coal was Britains's richest natural resource, meeting most of the nation's requirement for energy. Today, coal can be produced more cheaply in other countries and so many British factories and mines have closed.

In 1970 we were the third largest producer of coal but coal production has declined rapidly sine then. In 2000, only 35 million tonnes of coal was produced compared to 145 million in 1970.

Areas like south Wales, central Scotland, the north of England (the Midlands, Merseyside, Manchester, West Yorkshire and Newcastle) and London were important industrial centres.

Oil and Natural Gas (non- renewable resources)

oil rig

Oil and gas was formed from the remains of animals and plants that lived millions of years ago in a marine (water) environment before the dinosaurs. Over the years the remains of the plants and animals were covered by layers of mud and soil which eventually turned to rock trapping the remains beneath the rock. Pressure and heat changed some of this organic material into coal, some into oil (petroleum), and some into natural gas -- tiny bubbles of odorless gas.

Oil and gas were discovered under the North Sea during the 1960s and new supplies are still being found today. Gas has been particularly important in replacing coal as a fuel for generating electricity.

Find out more about Natural Gas

Find out moe about Oil

wind turbinesWind Power (renewable resources)

We are using more and more energy every year. In the UK, the majority of electricity is generated by a mix of fossil fuels and nuclear power, releasing millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the environment. The business of generating electricity from the wind is growing fast as the world looks for cleaner ways to produce energy. Coal, oil and gas fired power stations could eventually be replaced by wind farms and other forms or renewable energy.

In 1997, there were 550 wind turbines and over 30 wind farms in the UK. The government has made a promise that 10% of the energy of the UK will come from renewable sources by 2010.

Today wind is used to generate electricity using wind turbines. Like windmills, wind turbines are mounted on a tower to capture the most energy. They are 100 feet (30 meters) or more above ground.

Click here to see a wind power animation

Information on wind power for kids

Minerals (non- renewable resources)

Britain has relatively few mineral resources. Zinc, tin, iron ore, and copper are all produced in small quantities.

Tin mine
A disused tin mine

At one time Cornwall boasted 2,000 tin mines and it was a world leader in tin production.

Our main commercial minerals are those used in the construction and building industries such as sand and gravel, limestone and gypsum. They are normally mined from the surface in quarries using heavy machinery. Smaller quarries are also found across England and provide stone for the local building industry. This means that many parts of England have a distinctive appearance according to the local stone available.



Most of the land is suitable for agriculture, although the largest area is reserved for pasture and grazing land. Agriculture provides around 60 per cent on the country's food needs.

Find out more about farming

Industries in each area of England

 What are Britain's main Trade and Industries?

What are Britain's main exports and imports

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All the materials on these pages are free for homework and classroom use only. You may not redistribute, sell or place the content of this page on any other website or blog without written permission from the Mandy Barrow.

© Copyright Mandy Barrow 2014

Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
The two websites and are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources.

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consultant.
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.

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