This is an archived press release
Thursday 1 February 2007
1 February 2007
Minister sees impact of quarrying on National Park
Biodiversity, landscape and rural affairs Minister Barry Gardiner MP said he wanted to see a permanent, national solution to controlling the environmental impact of quarrying after visiting the Peak District National Park.
Mr Gardiner, the Defra Minister with responsibility for English national parks, said he had been shown photographs but nothing compared to standing on Longstone Edge, near Bakewell, to see the impact for himself.
The National Park Authority has been engaged in lengthy legal cases to protect Longstone Edge from alleged unauthorised quarrying. A public inquiry on Backdale Quarry begins on February 13 (for background, see www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/backdale).
National Park Authority chair Tony Hams said: “We are very pleased that the Minister spent the day in the National Park, and saw first-hand the harm that quarrying can cause to the landscape and environment. The Minister had open and frank discussions on the future of quarrying with both ourselves and local community representatives.”
Standing on Longstone Edge, overlooking the latest quarry operation which started at Wagers Flat last July, Mr Gardiner said: “Clearly it has a huge impact on this landscape, and of course I understand why people are as upset as they are. Whilst this is a local matter in terms of the planning process, it clearly has national implications. I want to work with the National Park Authority and local stakeholders to find a long term solution.”
The Authority had demonstrated its determination to see this through, he went on, and he believed that forthcoming legislative changes by the Department for Communities and Local Government would assist their efforts.
Later, National Park Authority planning chair Narendra Bajaria urged him not to rule out revoking the 55-year-old planning permission in the case of Longstone Edge, because, he said, it could prove to be the most cost-effective option. The process of fighting court-case after court-case meant escalating legal costs and enormous time and effort for the Authority – and still at the end no certainty of outcome.
During his day-long visit, which started with the East Midlands Rural Affairs Forum in Chesterfield, Mr Gardiner made a last-minute change of schedule to visit Stoney Middleton, which suffered a dam-burst at a fluorspar processing plant on January 22, releasing a surge of mud through the streets. He met parish councillors and visited The Moon pub where the landlady showed him a video of the flood.
The National Park Authority also arranged a separate meeting for community representatives to discuss quarrying issues with the Minister. They included parish councils, the Save Longstone Edge Group, Stanton Against Destruction of the Environment, Stanton Lees Action Group, Friends of the Peak District and the British Mountaineering Council.