A Planning Application has recently been submitted for a zipwire which could impact greatly on the landscape character and tranquillity of Thirlmere in the Lake District. The BMC is asking its members to write to the planning authority opposing these plans. Deadline for submissions is 12th January 2018.
A Planning Application has recently been submitted by TreeTop Trek for the ‘Thirlmere Activity Hub’ to include 8 zip wires along 2 routes running across the lake at Thirlmere and an 18km cycleway. These proposals were discussed at the BMC Lake District area meeting where it was felt, unanimously, that it would have a significant detrimental effect on the character and beauty of the landscape (which is of national importance and has been awarded environmental protections accordingly).
As outlined in the BMC Landscape Charter, experiencing ‘landscape’ is an intrinsic reason why our members go climbing and hill walking. The range of landscapes they regard as valuable is broad, from wilder environments of semi-natural habitat, including mountains, uplands, moors and sea cliffs, to outcrops bordering arable land and disused quarries, which can be in urban and rural areas. The BMC wants these landscapes to be managed and protected for future generations so they remain sanctuaries for quiet and sustainable recreation.
The Specific Grounds for the BMC objecting includes:
1. Inconsistent with National Park statutory purposes
The BMC believe that when considering planning applications, the National Park Authority (NPA) must be mindful of the two statutory purposes and it is currently difficult to see how the proposed zip wire will contribute to these. Whilst we do not object to the proposed cycle route, which is already largely in place, the BMC feel that the zip wires will not enhance the visitors understanding of the Park’s special qualities, rather it may instil the participant with the idea that National Parks are outdoor theme parks
2. Impact on road traffic
The BMC believes that the proposed development will result in unacceptable levels of traffic on the local highway network and we would like to see the Traffic Statement be re-assessed so that it looks at the ‘worst case’ scenario as well as (as currently presented) the ‘best case scenario’.
3. Impacts upon the landscape character and tranquility of Thirlmere, particularly on the Western shore
Despite the area around Thirlmere being predominantly ‘manmade’ in character (shaped by many years of sheep farming, quarrying and mining) this is celebrated by the fact that the area gained World Heritage Site status in 2017 due to its Cultural (i.e. manmade) Landscape.
The many valleys of the Lake District have their own distinctive features and Thirlmere has its own character. The valley is central to the Lake District and one is able to access and ascend Helvellyn on the east of the lake via the A591 with ease. On the west side of the lake there is a tranquillity, which many are surprised to find in such a central location of the Lake District; here walks up onto the Central Fells can be enjoyed.
The launch point from Swirls Car Park is also on the edge of open access land which has been mapped as such for its landscape characteristics.
4. The issue of precedent
If this development was approved it would open up the whole of the Lake District National Park and other National Parks to such types of development. While there are already zip wires in the Lake District (Brockhole and Go-Ape), these are relatively small, well hidden and are not on the same scale envisaged at Thirlmere.
5. Impact on World Heritage Site Outstanding Universal Value
The issue of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) was fundamental in the Lake District obtaining its World Heritage Site status as a result of its ‘Cultural Landscape’. A zip wire constructed through this landscape fundamentally undermines and threatens this status.
6. Introducing commercial development to an area of tranquillity
Despite its central location, the valley is in a quiet location with minimal commercial activities and those that do exist are only small scale. The development of a zip wire, with its attendant buildings would change all of that and anticipation of hundreds of thousands of visitors.
7. Sandford Principle
Our objection requests that the planning application by Tree Tops be turned down on the basis of all the above evidence but also on the basis of the 'Sandford Principle' which is clearly laid down in statute i.e.; "Where irreconcilable conflicts exist between conservation and public enjoyment, then conservation interest should take priority".
8. Concern at impeding flight paths of aircraft
Permission will also need to be sought from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and it may be necessary to highlight the presence of the zip wire by markers across the lake, which could be illuminated at night. This would seem totally incompatible within this landscape and in the middle of a National Park.
The BMC has objected to the proposals based on the reasons outlined above. We would also encourage our members to do the same by writing to the planning authority. More information on the proposals can be found here.
You can directly email the Planning Authority using our email template and sending this to firstname.lastname@example.org (please download, add your name and if you are able to, personalise the letter).
You can also send your comments by post to the Lake District National Park Authority, Murley Moss, Kendal, LA9 7RL. The deadline for comments to be submitted is: 12th January 2018.
Please make sure you quote the application reference number on any representations.
Planning Reference: 7/2017/2298
Proposal: Thirlmere Activity Hub: Development of a zipwire attraction, a series of improvements to the round Thirlmere cycleway, improvements to car parks, access paths and the extension and development of an existing toilet block to provide reception, changing area and toilet facility
Location: Land at Thirlmere, St John's Castlerigg and Wythburn