The chair of the Save Longstone Edge Group (SLEG) gave public recognition of the BMC’s role in this longstanding campaign and thanked the BMC for its continued interest at the SLEG AGM on 16th June 2011.
So what is the current position, and why has so little been said about what has been going on recently? This short report gives a brief outline of a very complex scenario.
Some months ago Glebe Mines (who were both mining and processing fluorspar) was bought up by Ineos Fleur. When Mexichem in turn bought Ineos Fleur, Glebe was not included in that sale. The only customer for fluorspar in the UK is the Runcorn chemical processing plant. It is now owned by Mexichem. It supplies the European Market and currently sources all its raw material from Mexico. Thus the Glebe business found itself both with investment difficulties, and also in need of a new market outlet for any product. Its Cavendish Mill site closed and the Peak District National Park Authority – which is the relevant mineral planning authority – commenced a series of negotiations regarding both stalled mining operations on Longstone Edge, both by Glebe / Ineos and Bleaklow Industries, and also the Mill site itself, including the settlement bids at Blakedon Hollow.
Meanwhile the Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA) was pressing ahead with work to determine the review of the old minerals permission of 1952, referred to as the ROMP. Despite clarification from the Court of Appeal as to what this permission authorised, it still lacks environmental information required under the Environment Act (1995) integral to its determination. The further difficulties here are first, that there is a difference of view as to what precise area is covered by the ROMP and, second, since some of the ROMP area is owned by Bleaklow Industries, some by Glebe and elsewhere the land and the mineral rights are separately owned, who actually has to provide what for the environment information may not be agreed by all parties. Suffice it to say here that if the information integral to the determination of the ROMP is not provided by November 2012 PDNPA will issue a prohibition notice.
One of the Longstone Edge sites, Peak Pastures, is protected by a four year moratorium on activity as a condition of the Tearsall permission. No work has yet been started at Tearsall by Glebe / Ineos, and before it can certain planning conditions have to be satisfied. No extraction is taking place on High Rake or Bow Rake. Backdale and Wagers Flat have seen no recent activity, Bleaklow’s operators having left both sites some time ago.
That was broadly speaking the situation at the end of 2010 when, against expectations, a potential buyer for the Glebe business emerged, with the intent, apparently, of carrying on where Glebe left off. Inevitably this development affected negotiations PDNPA were having with Ineos about restorative work at Cavendish Mill and on Longstone Edge. It is hoped that the potential buyer’s intentions will become clear relatively soon.
What happens next...
If the sale does go ahead both the proposed methods of extraction and of the processing operation at Cavendish Mill will come under scrutiny. For any activity on Longstone Edge the Court of Appeal decision will be relevant: that is to say no overburden can be removed from site and the 2:1 ratio of limestone to extracted ore vein will apply. Monitoring arrangements would have to be put in place. A whole raft of issues will also be raised regarding the Cavendish Mill operation, not least the view expressed by SLEG that what were described as archaic practices, particularly continued use of the settlement beds at Blakedon Hollows, would not be acceptable. Further it was submitted that simply de-watering the beds was not adequate and that restoration of the Hollow to it former splendour must be a requirement. A final proposal was that PDNPA should approach the potential purchasers with a view to arranging an early meeting between them and SLEG.
What if there is no sale? PDNPA, supported by SLEG and the BMC, will resume negotiations regarding the restoration of Longstone Edge with Ineos and Bleaklow. Bonds lodged by Glebe as part of an earlier Consolidating Application will be available to facilitate agreed restoration plans, though the Cavendish Mill site and Blakedon Hollow are not covered by any bonds. We will be keeping a very close eye on developments. This long running campaign is far from over.
The BMC is part of the coalition of conservation groups which formed to call for the end of quarrying on Longstone Edge.
For further information see the Save Longstone Edge Campaign website.
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