Campaigners urge Backdale buy-out

Posted by Cath Flitcroft on 31/07/2009
Backdale, July 2009. Photo: SLEG

The Longstone Edge Coalition has urged the Government to end a six year battle to save the Peak District National Park from quarrying destruction, as a result of an outdated 1952 planning permission.

Andy Tickle, a Coalition spokesperson and Head of Planning at Friends of the Peak District, met with Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the Peak District last week to celebrate the 60th anniversary of National Parks legislation. He said: “We urge the Government to put in place the funds to buy-out this quarry permission now. We must protect this irreplaceable land once and for all from quarrying devastation, before it is too late.

He continued: “It’s been a long battle for the community and the National Park Authority against the quarry operators – six years of heart ache, frustration and appalling landscape vandalism. We have now won the legal battle, but another operator could still use planning loopholes to continue their wanton destruction of this pristine land.

We urge the Government, on behalf of all that care about protecting our national parks, to finish the job. We must win the war as well as the battle by buying Backdale out from the quarry operators.”

The Court of Appeal ordered quarry operator, MMC Ltd, to cease quarrying for limestone at Backdale Quarry, Longstone Edge, in March this year. Since then, however, MMC continued to flout the court ruling by removing yet more limestone at the site. The Coalition is worried that an unscrupulous operator could continue quarrying the site until 2042, when the mineral permissions run out, completely decimating the scenic Longstone Edge.

The Coalition has warned Mr Benn that the only way to protect Longstone Edge properly is for the Government to offer a ‘buy out’ package including purchase of the land and the minerals rights, and ultimately revoke the old permission. The Coalition says that taking this action in the 60th anniversary year of the National Parks Act would be entirely fitting.

The Coalition formed to campaign for Longstone Edge following a 2008 High Court judgement which overturned a public inquiry decision in which a Government planning inspector had ruled that excessive limestone quarrying at Backdale Quarry on Longstone Edge was illegal and must cease. In March this year the Court of Appeal ordered that excessive limestone quarrying must cease, but the company continued their quarrying activities on the ground. The operator withdrew from the site on 10 July but operations could resume as the planning permission is still valid.

The Coalition includes: the British Mountaineering Council, the Campaign for National Parks, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Friends of the Earth, Friends of the Peak District, Plantlife, the Ramblers’ Association and the Save Longstone Edge Group.

For a complete history of the case visit the Save Longstone Edge website

 



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