This is an archived press release
Friday 19 January 2007
19 January 2007
First step toward enforcement action on Wager’s Flat
The way has been opened for the Peak District National Park Authority to take enforcement action against alleged unlawful limestone operations at Wagers Flat on Longstone Edge, near Bakewell.
The Authority’s planning committee today (Fri Jan 19) authorised enforcement action¹ to be taken when the legal and financial arrangements are in place.
The move follows mounting concern that the limestone extraction has gone beyond the scope of the 1952 planning permission, which covers 155 hectares of Longstone Edge.
It also agreed that consideration would be given to a possible stop notice² at a meeting of the Authority on February 9.
Operators MMC Mineral Processing Ltd began quarrying at Wagers Flat (on land owned by Bleaklow Industries Ltd) last July after a stop notice prevented them continuing certain operations at neighbouring Backdale quarry.
Both areas are within the 1952 permission, which was granted by the then Ministry of Local Government primarily for fluorspar. The planning permission does not mention limestone, but allows “the winning and working of fluorspar and barytes and the working of lead and any other minerals which are won in the course of working these minerals.”
At Wagers Flat a fluorspar vein passes through the limestone, but the planning committee was advised that considerably more limestone had been removed off site than was won in the course of working the fluorspar.³
The report stated: “The removal off-site of limestone won in the course of winning the vein, i.e. making the vein accessible to be worked, is not considered to be permitted. As a result it is considered that there has been a breach of planning control.”
The National Park Authority, whose statutory purpose is “to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area,” is deeply concerned that this prominent landscape feature is being irreversibly damaged by the scale of these operations.
Planning committee chair Narendra Bajaria said: "We are equally concerned as the local community about what's happening at Wagers Flat. The Authority is doing everything in its power to rectify the situation by today's authorisation for enforcement, and giving consideration to issuing a Stop Notice at the Authority's meeting on February 9.
"We are still looking for a permanent solution. Rural affairs minister Barry Gardiner has given a positive response to our invitation to come to the Peak District to see the situation for himself, and the public will be informed as soon as the details of the visit are in place."
The Authority is currently preparing for a 10-day public inquiry into the operations at Backdale, starting at Calver Village Hall on February 13.