This is an archived press release
Wednesday 27 September 2006
27 September 2006
Appeal to Minister over quarrying on Longstone Edge
Peak District National Park leaders are keeping up pressure for Government support in their efforts to end harmful quarrying on Longstone Edge, near Bakewell.
National Park Authority chair Tony Hams told a public meeting of nearly 200 people in Calver (Sept 26) that a delegation will be briefing recently-appointed rural affairs minister Barry Gardiner MP on October 16.
“It’s clear that there’s still a huge amount of public concern locally about quarrying problems on Longstone Edge,” said Mr Hams. “This only strengthens our resolve to keep up the pressure at the highest level.”
Planning committee chair Narendra Bajaria, who will also meet Mr Gardiner, said the Government must recognise the detrimental environmental impact of large quarries in National Parks. “This is not just a local issue, it is of national importance,” he said. “The Authority is pursuing every avenue to press the case, and work together for a permanent solution.”
The area’s MP Patrick McLoughlin was at the public meeting, which was called to update residents around Longstone Edge about developments since a similar event in January.
He was glad National Park leaders were building a relationship with the new rural affairs minister, after achieving extra financial help from his predecessor Jim Knight.
He found it “staggering” that two public inquiries have been put off in the past year, and hoped that the national significance – in terms of the impact of old quarrying permissions on the special landscapes of National Parks – had now been taken on board by the planning inspectorate.
In a question-and-answer session, residents were also deeply concerned about the long drawn-out legal processes which the National Park Authority is obliged to engage in because of weak legislation. The Government has said it will consider strengthening the legislation next year, and some residents believed the potentially heavy cost of compensation for an option of revoking the planning permission should be borne by the Government.
The Authority is exploring all options for a permanent solution to the problems which centre mainly on alleged unlawful operations at Backdale quarry, because although it represents only part of the possible quarrying area of Longstone Edge, decisions made on Backdale could affect other sites too.
A stop notice was served on Backdale’s operations in January, because in the Authority’s view, they went beyond the scope of the 1952 planning permission. Large-scale limestone extraction was doing irreparable harm to the landscape, believed the Authority, and the planning permission is primarily for the vein minerals of fluorspar and barytes.
That stop notice was nullified by an unforeseen legal technicality in March, which meant that an April public inquiry was cancelled, another stop notice was served in May, appeals made, and a date set for a new public inquiry, starting February 13.
Meanwhile in July, the operators, MMC Mineral Processing, started quarrying nearby Wager’s Flat (hitherto an untouched field), which is covered by the same 1952 planning permission. So far, these operations appear to have been lawful, but the Authority is monitoring it closely.
The meeting was held back-to-back with the annual meeting of the residents’ action group Save Longstone Edge, which has been campaigning for nine years. The Authority stressed that these were separate events and that it had neither been involved in the preparation of, nor endorsed the action group’s publicity leaflets.