Crunch-time for Longstone Edge

Posted by Tina Gardner on 09/02/2009
Backdale Quarry, August 2008. Photo: SLEG

The fate of one of the most beautiful landscapes in the Peak District National Park – rapidly becoming scarred due to uncontrolled quarrying – is to be decided in a case to be heard in the Court of Appeal starting tomorrow - Tuesday 10 February.

The hearing is the culmination of a lengthy legal battle to try to halt the rate of limestone quarrying taking place at Backdale Quarry on Longstone Edge in Derbyshire. Campaigners hope the Court of Appeal will rule in favour of a stricter interpretation of the old mineral permission, taking into account the sensitive location in a National Park. The Court of Appeal’s involvement underscores the national importance of this test case.

Quarry owner Bleaklow Industries Limited is currently able to work Backdale Quarry on Longstone Edge under an old mineral permission dating from 1952, which was for the extraction of fluorspar for industrial uses. The controversy centres on how much limestone can be extracted whilst getting out the fluorspar. A previous public inquiry ruled that this should be limited to a ratio of two parts of limestone to one part of fluorspar. This was then overturned last year in the High Court and limestone quarrying has now resumed with a vengeance.
 
The Longstone Edge Coalition (LEC), a national group of campaigning organisations, is calling on Defra to be ready to intervene if the Court of Appeal ruling does not favour an immediate halt to the permanent damage.
 
A coalition spokesperson, Ruth Chambers, Acting Chief Executive of the Campaign for National Parks, said: “Quarries like Backdale, whose planning permission dates from the 1950s, can cause enormous environmental damage to the countryside if they are not subject to modern environmental standards. This case must now be regarded as a priority for Government intervention if landscape protection in our National Parks is not to be made a laughing stock”.
 
John Lambert, chair of the local Save Longstone Edge Group said: “The destruction is occurring at an alarming rate and you would be amazed if someone showed you the site and then told you it was in a National Park. We hope that the limestone quarrying will found to be unlawful and will be curbed immediately. Everyday, more of the Park’s valuable landscape is lost forever and so it is vital that the government is ready to intervene.”
 
The BMC has long been concerned by the national as well as the local implications and was the first national organisation to campaign against the large-scale quarrying.
 
A full press release is available.
 
Read an article by Ed Douglas in today's Guardian.


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