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articles > 2017

Planning Application:
Ref: 7/2018/2011
Proposal: Dual purpose aerial wire for extraction of stone and tourism use
Location: Honister Slate Mine, Honister Pass, Borrowdale, Keswick, CA12 5XN

The Wainwright Society has studied the planning application by Honister Slate Mine for the introduction of a zip wire at the mine site and has concerns that the Society thinks should be considered by the Planning Committee when coming to a decision regarding this proposal.

1. The previous planning application was refused, one reason given being that ‘National Park designation confers the highest status of protection as far as landscape and natural beauty is concerned. Because of the high sensitivity of the receptors (people) in this open and rugged high fell landscape the impacts of noise, speed, altitude and appearance that would be caused by users of the proposed zip wire would harm the qualities of remoteness, tranquillity and wildness currently enjoyed. The harm would be greatest along public rights of way and across Countryside and Rights of Way Act open access land. Along significant parts of the bridleway, footpaths and Countryside and Rights of Way Act open access land from Honister Hause there would be full uninterrupted views of the users of the zip wire and impacts of noise, speed, altitude and appearance would be at their height. The lack of any visual cover, the stark and distinctive backdrop of the fells and the fixed nature of the wire would exacerbate this impact.’ The Society can find no evidence that these concerns about harming the qualities of remoteness, tranquillity and wildness have been satisfactorily addressed in the current proposal. There is no strategy for mitigating the impact of people descending at speed down the zip wire on the tranquillity and remoteness of the area, which is located on open fell.

2. The proposal includes reference to the lower zip wire that can be used by the disabled, less-abled and children under 10 years old. It is not clear who would be able to ride this zip wire or how many people would be expected at peak times during the year. The Visitor Management Plan does not address how rides on the lower zip wire will be managed and how many additional descents this will involve over the maximum 57 claimed by the company for participants on the Via Ferrata. Although it is not possible to assess the full impact of the proposed lower zip wire it will undoubtedly generate additional traffic, noise and have a further detrimental impact on the tranquillity and sense of remoteness of the area. Whilst the Society is generally supportive of engaging with the younger generation and disabled people to enable them to experience and have access to the fells, the Society feels that this activity is not appropriate for the intended location.

3. If approved, this proposal could set a precedent for similar applications on quarry sites and crags on open fell in the heart of the Lake District, which would conflict with the purposes of the 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.

For these reasons, the Society objects to the planning application.

Derek Cockell
The Wainwright Society