This is an archived press release
Tuesday 28 March 2006
28 March 2006
Public inquiry into Backdale Quarry cancelled
A public inquiry into quarrying at Backdale on Longstone Edge – due to resume next week – has been cancelled after Secretary of State John Prescott declared the Peak District National Park Authority’s enforcement action to be null and void.
The Authority has expressed its extreme disappointment at today’s announcement but it has signalled its firm desire to continue action against what it believes to be the unlawful mass extraction of limestone from Backdale Quarry, near Bakewell.
Over recent weeks the Government’s Planning Inspectorate had been assessing whether a recent case in Wales, where enforcement action was declared null because of uncertainty, could apply at Backdale.
Because the Backdale public inquiry is based on enforcement and stop notices that no longer apply, it cannot proceed. The inquiry was due to restart next Tuesday 4 April at Calver Village Hall.
Peak District National Park Authority Chief Executive Jim Dixon said: “Although we are extremely disappointed, this decision has not come out of the blue. Over recent weeks we have been looking into the legal and financial options open to us, should our enforcement action fall as a result of the case in Wales. We will continue to work urgently on this over the next few days.
“At our Authority meeting last Friday the members had a very full and open debate about what could happen if this situation arose. There was unanimous support to look at fresh legal action to halt what we believe to be excessive and unlawful limestone extraction at Backdale Quarry.
“The local community will share our concern and frustration at today’s events, and will obviously want to know what the Authority’s next course of action will be.
“However, we are still waiting to hear the detail of the decision. Until we have this we will not be in a position to agree our next steps – so we would ask people to bear with us and we will be making a public announcement as soon as possible.”
The enforcement and stop notices had been issued against both MMC Mineral Processing Ltd and landowners Bleaklow Industries Ltd. Their current planning permission allows them to quarry 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. Only 11,500 tonnes of fluorspar were extracted – none of it apparently sold.
Jim Dixon added: “Today’s decision may have significant implications for other enforcement cases around the country.”