Green fields highlighted by sunrays through heavy clouds from Curbar Edge

Villagers celebrate sound of Silence

This is an archived press release

Tuesday 29 January 2008

29 January 2008

Villagers celebrate sound of Silence

Two villages will make wildlife bloom on a derelict lead-mine site thanks to vital help from the Peak District National Park Authority and Heritage Lottery Fund.

Hucklow and Foolow parishes are taking over the four-hectare former Silence Mine site which straddles their boundaries. The site had been abandoned for 20 years and the villagers were dismayed to see its rare wildlife and historic remains choked with scrub and damaged by illegal off-roaders.

Despite legal searches no owner could be found. So the Peak District National Park Authority came to their aid by acquiring the site through a compulsory purchase order. Last week (Jan 25) it officially handed over the site to the villagers’ specially-created Silence Heritage Trust at cost-price – the first time such a step has been taken.

Trust chair Derek Lee, of Foolow, said: “We aim to make it an amenity for both communities – it seemed an ideal opportunity to work together for the common good. We couldn’t have done it without the National Park Authority with whom we have a super working partnership, and the Heritage Lottery Fund played a vital part in granting us £27,500 to help purchase and manage it.”

National Park officers are helping the villagers through the early stages of wildlife management.

With their guidance, village volunteers are scrub-clearing and putting up bird-boxes made by children at Great Hucklow Primary School. They are also doing wildlife surveys and putting in pathways and information panels explaining the lead-mine remains, birds, butterflies and rare plants such as leadwort and mountain pansy which thrive on metal-polluted spoil heaps.

The Peak District Mines Historical Society is giving advice on conserving the important archaeological features. Walkers already use an informal footpath across the site between Great Hucklow and Foolow, and it will officially become open access land under the Countryside Rights of Way Act.

The National Park’s Vision for Wildlife project officer Rebekah Newman said: “We are delighted to be enabling the management of this site by local people who have long regarded it as a special place for them. They have worked hard to achieve this and we wholeheartedly support their commitment.”

National Park services committee chair Andrew Marchington said: “It’s fantastic to be able to work in partnership with local people on projects like this, and it’s a brilliant example for other parts of the national park.”

The Silence Heritage Trustees are Derek Lee, David Martin and Christopher Taylor from Foolow, and Roland Butcher, Patricia Miles and Richard Johnson from Great Hucklow. The chairmanship will alternate between the villages. The project is being managed by Richard Eastwood, who was instrumental in achieving the Heritage Lottery funding.

Legal advice was provided for the trust on a pro-bono basis by Sheffield law firm DLA Piper as part of their corporate social responsibility commitment.

This is an archived press release

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