Backdale Quarry, seen in 2008. Photo: Peak District NPA

Backdale Quarry, seen in 2008. Photo: Peak District NPA

A national park site containing rare shark bone fossils will be preserved after the Government ruled against quarry developers.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark backed the Peak District authority’s prohibition order on further quarrying at Backdale Quarry.

The decision marks the end of a 17-year legal battle over the quarry, which lies at the eastern end of Longstone Edge, between Calver and Bakewell. The arguments by landowners Bleaklow Industries Limited went as high as the European Court of Human Rights.

Campaigners said they were ‘over the moon’ with the minister’s ruling upholding the national park authority’s order, which prevents mineral quarrying or dumping of mineral waste over 138ha (341 acres) at Backdale and nearby Wagers Flat.

The Secretary of State upheld the restoration scheme proposed by the authority in respect of the Backdale area and the restoration scheme agreed between the Peak District and the landowner in respect of Wagers Flat, which now form part of the order.

The national park authority said the landowner, Bleaklow Industries, will be obliged to restore the land in line with park planners’ recommendations to minimise risk from landslips and rockfall, reduce its visual impact in the landscape and benefit ecology. The site contains rare fossils of shark bones so the restoration will need to be monitored by experts.

Peak District national park chief executive Sarah Fowler said: “This decision brings to an end more than 17 years of complex planning work and legal action.

“We are very pleased with the final outcome. It protects a significant area of land from mineral extraction and is absolutely the right decision for Longstone Edge and the Peak District national park.

“Over the years it has involved thousands of hours of staff time and personal effort, a number of successful court cases, as well as the active support and backing from local communities, national environmental groups, MPs and the Government.

“I’m particularly pleased for the local people who fought such a strong campaign to help protect the landscape and peace and tranquillity of this area.”

Friends of the Peak District, working with the Save Longstone Edge Group, have been campaigning since 2003 to stop damaging quarrying being carried out at this site, working with a national coalition of environmental groups to help with a buy out of the site if needed.

The Friends’ lobbying of government, together with the Campaign for National Parks, also brought about the new legislation that allowed the Peak District National Park Authority to serve the decisive prohibition order.

Director of Friends of the Peak District Andy Tickle said: “We’re over the moon that, after years of hard work by the authority, the local community and ourselves, we can finally say the fight to save Longstone Edge is over.

“It really shows the power of partnership and persistence when we have to deal with a really tough planning issue. We just can’t thank everyone who helped enough.”

The national park’s battle to protect Longstone Edge started in 1999 when legal action began over excessive limestone extraction at the quarry, which the authority said was damaging the landscape and, in the national park’s view, contravened a 1952 planning permission. This allowed the extraction of vein minerals, mainly fluorspar, found within limestone in the area.

In 2007, a planning inspector upheld the national park’s enforcement notice after an eight-day public inquiry, but this was overturned by the High Court in 2008.

In 2009, the Court of Appeal restored the planning inspector’s decision to uphold the national park’s enforcement action and the House of Lords turned down the landowner, Bleaklow Industries’, request to appeal. And, in 2010, the European Court of Human Rights also turned down their request to appeal.

The Secretary of State’s decision brings an end to the planning permission for all mineral working at the site.

Some articles the site thinks might be related:

  1. Peak District bosses order end to quarrying at Longstone Edge site
  2. European court throws out final appeal for Peak quarry
  3. Benn urged to buy out quarry rights to save beauty spot
  4. Peak District boss Jim Dixon stepping down to pursue new roles
  5. Peak District first as Google Trekker used to photograph its trails