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Ten-year quarry protest camp finally cleared

This is an archived press release

Monday 27 April 2009

27 April 2009

Ten-year quarry protest camp finally cleared

One of the longest-running protest camps in the country has been peacefully cleared after nearly 10 years.

Campaigners have removed more than 50 tree-houses, tents and mobile homes, and filled in tunnels dug into the former Lees Cross and Endcliffe quarries near historic Stanton Moor in the Peak District National Park.

They originally set up camp in 1999 to form a “human shield” against a resumption of quarrying at Lees Cross and Endcliffe, which the Peak District National Park Authority wanted to prevent.

Not only was the Authority concerned about the potential impact of quarry activity on nearby Bronze Age remains including the Nine Ladies Stone Circle, it wanted to minimise the impact on local communities.

The Authority’s actions finally succeeded in January when an official revocation order was received from the Government. The quarry operators had voluntarily offered to give up the planning permission, originally granted in the 1950s, without compensation in exchange for an extension at another, less-sensitive quarry site.

The protestors were among those celebrating the Authority’s success after years of complex negotiations involving the quarry operators, landowners and local communities which went as far as the High Court in 2004.

After a final site visit this month (April 21) when protesters met national park planning officers and rangers, the landowner, police and environmental health officers, it was confirmed that the site clearance was complete.

Cllr Hilda Gaddum, chair of the Authority’s planning committee, said: “We are pleased that the protestors have packed up their camp and restored the site. They always said they would leave it in a satisfactory state once a resolution was reached, and they have kept their word.

“The planning committee did consider, on several occasions, whether formal enforcement action should be pursued to clear the camp. But such action would have been extremely difficult and lengthy, and following discussions with the police, landowners, the quarry company and local communities we deferred it on the understanding the protestors would leave once the reason for their presence was resolved.”

The quarries have now largely reverted to nature, with plants and trees taking over. This fits with the Authority’s aim to protect the area’s wildlife habitats as well as its valuable archaeological remains.

Stanton Moor is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, but the area round it has been worked for gritstone since the 19th century. A number of quarry planning permissions were granted in the 1950s and do not expire until 2042.

This is an archived press release

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