This is an archived press release
Wednesday 25 October 2006
24 October 2006
Peak District quarry issue raised in Commons
Peak District quarrying issues were again raised at national level with a parliamentary adjournment debate at Westminster Hall on Tuesday. (Oct 24)
Peak District National Park Authority chair Tony Hams welcomed a ministerial acknowledgment that quarrying in national parks was not just a local issue.
He said: “We’d like to thank West Derbyshire MP Patrick McLoughlin for pursuing this issue at parliamentary level. It’s very important that the problems are acknowledged in public at the highest level. We will continue in our own endeavours to keep up pressure for Government support.”
Rural affairs minister Barry Gardiner, replying to Mr McLoughlin in the debate, said that though a public inquiry into Backdale Quarry in February 2007 would tackle a local problem, its ramifications would be of national concern.
Mr McLoughlin had pointed out that with many millions of visitors every year, the impact of quarrying on the landscape and wildlife of the Peak District was of national importance.
He also said that this was a point at which political muscle needed to be exercised to strengthen the limited powers of the Authority. He asked whether the Government would propose legislation to close a loophole which allows operators with 1950s planning permissions (as at Backdale) to carry on working without modern working conditions. This means they do not have to restore the site, nor adhere to modern pollution and working-hours controls – giving them an unfair commercial advantage.
Mr Gardiner said the Department of Communities and Local Government was indeed considering measures to close the loophole by regulation, if possible, rather than new legislation.
However, the Authority is concerned that this could not be brought in quick enough to have any effect on quarrying at Wager’s Flat – the neighbouring site where the quarry operators moved after the Authority served a stop notice at Backdale.
The Authority has already invited the minister to come and see the problems for himself, and Mr McLoughlin also asked him to visit. The minister has yet to respond, although his predecessor, Jim Knight, visited Backdale in January.