Huge turn-out for public meeting on Peak District quarry

This is an archived press release

Tuesday 31 January 2006

31 January 2006

Huge turn-out for public meeting on Peak District quarry

More than 300 people packed into a Peak District National Park Authority public meeting at Cliff College, Calver, to hear of progress on a legal fight to halt quarry damage on Longstone Edge.

The meeting was held the day after the Authority’s stop notice came into effect at Backdale Quarry, preventing the operators MMC Mineral Processing and landowners Bleaklow Industries, from carrying on alleged excessive extraction of limestone.

The audience heard that the Defra rural affairs minister, Jim Knight, had visited the area that day to see the damage for himself. Mr Knight, who said he regards the Peak District as “an iconic part of England’s natural heritage” had arranged special financial support which enabled the Authority to continue the legal process.

A public inquiry, which will determine whether the Authority’s enforcement notice was valid, will resume in April. The stop notice is to prevent further harmful activities at Backdale while the legal process continues.

In his introduction as chair of the public meeting, Authority chair Tony Hams said there was still a long way to go to resolve the issues at the Backdale site, and he was grateful for the continuing support of the local community in exerting pressure with goverment.

“We’d like to thank residents and particularly the Save Longstone Edge Group for the very professional way they have gone about their campaign on a very difficult and complex subject,” he said.

Director of conservation and development John Lomas and senior minerals planner David Bent explained the current situation, and maps displayed substantial areas beyond Backdale that are covered by the same 1952 planning permission.

In response to questions from the audience, Mr Hams said the Authority was making representations at senior ministerial level about strengthening current legislation to deal with 50-year-old planning permissions like that at Backdale.

Planning committee chair Narendra Bajaria said: “There’s no doubt the legislation we have at present is proving inadequate, and we do not want to see a repeat of Backdale anywhere else.”

The principle point of contention is that the planning permission is for vein minerals (mainly fluorspar) and any limestone extracted in the course of working those minerals. The Authority contends that the limestone being extracted was far in excess of that permission, causing irreparable harm to the landscape.

This is an archived press release

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