This is an archived press release
Friday 24 March 2006
24 March 2006
National Park Authority plans for fresh action to defend Peak District landscape
The Peak District National Park Authority has unanimously agreed to pursue fresh legal action to prevent excessive limestone quarrying at Backdale if its current action falls.
The Government’s Planning Inspectorate is currently assessing whether a recent case in Wales, where enforcement action was declared null because of uncertainty, could apply at Backdale. Other enforcement actions across the country could also be affected.
The move came at a crucial time for the National Park Authority because a Public Inquiry into the quarry operators’ appeal against enforcement action is due to resume on April 4. If the Welsh case is held to apply at Backdale, the Public Inquiry will be cancelled and the limestone quarrying which is in dispute could have resumed.
This made it a matter of urgency for the National Park Authority to plan a course of action to prevent further irreversible damage to the Peak District landscape on Longstone Edge, near Bakewell.
Deputy chair Hilda Gaddum won unanimous support for her proposal to issue new enforcement and stop notices, and to seek High Court clarification of Backdale’s original 1952 planning permission, in the event of an adverse decision from the Planning Inspectorate
She said: “We believe it is very important to continue the route we have started. We very sincerely hope that the Planning Inspectorate does not declare the current action a nullity, but if it does, then we should authorise quite clearly the action to be taken.”
The notices would be newly-drafted in this event. Much of the difficulty stems from the wording of the original planning permission, which like many issued in the early 1950s would be imprecise by current standards. This is why the Authority would also want to seek clarification from the High Court if its current action falls.
Authority chair Tony Hams said: “Pressing the Government to ensure that legislation applying to quarrying is effective is an important issue, not just for our benefit but for the whole country, and we are currently in talks on this at Government level.
“We will make sure we keep all parties and the local community, including the parish councils and Save Longstone Edge Group, fully informed on progress as it develops.”
The Authority has taken first-rate legal advice throughout this case, he said, and would continue to do so.
The enforcement and stop notices were issued against quarry operators MMC Mineral Processing Ltd and landowners Bleaklow Industries Ltd. The planning permission allows them to quarry the vein-minerals fluorspar and barytes, and limestone only as a secondary product – taken out in the course of working the vein-minerals. However, between July 2003 and December 2005, 573,963 tonnes of limestone were sold from Backdale, and only 11,500 tonnes of fluorspar were extracted – none of it apparently sold.