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articles > 2017

Planning Application: 7/2017/2298 Thirlmere Activity Hub
Development of a zip wire attraction and improvements to the round Thirlmere cycleway with associated infrastructure and car park improvements.

The Wainwright Society strongly objects to the proposed zip wire development at Thirlmere.

Thirlmere valley retains a strong sense of remoteness despite the busy A591 and, particularly on its western side, is a place where visitors may enjoy views of the surrounding fells and northward towards Blencathra in an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity.

The Society believes that the proposed zip wire bringing with it the visual intrusion of the infrastructure, increased traffic, the noise and disturbance of ex-military transport trucks together with all the activity of the many participants associated with the zip wire would severely compromise the remoteness and tranquillity within this beautiful Lakeland valley.

The proposed location for the zip wire is incompatible with the purposes of a national park as defined by the Environment Act (1995): To conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage; and one that has just been awarded with the highest accolade of World Heritage Site status by UNESCO.

A zip wire constructed at Thirlmere conflicts with the principles laid down on the Core Strategy document of the Lake District National Park, particularly with regard to:

  • CS11 Sustainable development principles - Conserve and enhance the character and quality of the local landscape, of the wider countryside and of the built environment;
  • CS24 Delivering sustainable tourism - Not introducing inappropriate activities, or levels of use, or otherwise being of a nature and scale detrimental to the character and quality of the environment; (Not materially affect) the character and amenity of the locality by reason of increased traffic generation, noise or other forms of disturbance;
  • CS25 Protecting the spectacular landscape - The type, design and scale of development, and the level of activity, should maintain and, where possible, enhance local distinctiveness, sense of place and tranquillity. In assessing development proposals the highest level of protection will be given to the landscape. (Note: This is a key point as also expressed in the Sandford Principle)

The Society believes that should this proposal be approved, it would set a precedent that would threaten other locations with similar characteristics e.g. Haweswater (Mardale) where commercial gain could be given greater weight than the principle of conservation and protection of an outstanding landscape in a remote setting.

In his final book, Alfred Wainwright wrote this about Thirlmere: ‘Manchester Corporation and the Forestry Commission have been the greatest predators in Lakeland over the past century. They were not welcome intruders, both being strongly opposed by conservationists and lovers of the district. They have done much to destroy the original character of the scenery and done little to enhance its natural charm. Enough has been more than enough. But it must be conceded that a hundred years of maturity have added a new attractiveness to the Thirlmere valley, best appreciated when viewed from a distance. In the case of Thirlmere, all is forgiven.’ Wainwright in the Valleys of Lakeland p. 172

Thirlmere has, to some extent, recovered from the development of the reservoir 130 years ago. Recent forestry work by United Utilities to open up the views of the lake along the A591 by felling mature coniferous woodland and replacing these with native broad-leafed trees has been a positive development.

If Thirlmere is not to suffer further damage by the proposed construction of a zip wire attraction, thus destroying the peace and tranquillity that still pervades the valley, then the proposal to site zip wires here should be rejected.

Derek Cockell
Secretary
The Wainwright Society