The Friends said the development would harm the tranquillity of the valley. Photo: Friends of the Lake District

The Friends said the development would harm the tranquillity of the valley. Photo: Friends of the Lake District

A conservation charity has outlined its reasons for opposing controversial plans to build zipwires across a Lake District reservoir.

The Friends of the Lake District are also encouraging members of the public to submit their objections before the deadline on 2 January next year.

Tree Top Trek, which has a high-wires adventure facility with a small zipwire near Windermere, want to construct an ‘activity hub’ with two four-line zipwires across Thirlmere, plus an 18km family-friendly cycleway round the shores of the lake.

The company has submitted a formal application for the hub to the Lake District National Park Authority.

Laura Fiske, planning officer for the Friends, said: “If approved, this application would have significant harmful impacts on the landscape and tranquillity of the Thirlmere valley.

“Fundamentally we consider that introducing commercial activity into this area would be at odds with the reasons for the designation of the Lake District, as it conflicts with laws and planning policies that protect the spectacular landscapes of our national parks.

“The development would also create an unacceptable precedent; if approved it would open up the whole Lake District national park and other national parks to inappropriate development.

“National parks are for everyone to enjoy, not just those who can afford to participate in so-called adventure experiences.”

The Friends of the Lake District’s said their principal objections to the proposal are:

  • The application for eight zipwires across Thirlmere conflicts with the legal purposes of the national park and is at odds with planning policies to protect the spectacular landscape and promote sustainable tourism
  • Visitor management and traffic impacts related to the introduction of large-scale commercial development
  • The creation of the zipwire development would have a significant impact on the beauty and tranquillity of the Thirlmere valley and would set a precedent for further commercial activity around Thirlmere, the wider valley, and the Lake District national park as a whole
  • As the birthplace of the conservation movement, Thirlmere makes an important contribution to the recently awarded world heritage site status and the impacts of the development on an internationally, as well as nationally, protected landscape must be considered.
Tree Top Trek wants to build twin zipwires across the lake. Photo: Friends of the Lake District

Tree Top Trek wants to build twin zipwires across the lake. Photo: Friends of the Lake District

Tree Top Trek is also urging supporters of the plans to write to the national park authority to make their views know. The company said the hub would meet some of the Lake District national park’s strategic objectives, partnership plans and the local enterprise partnership priorities.

Easier gradients would help less able cyclists to use the proposed tracks and the scheme would have a minimal impact on traffic. It would have minimal visual impact and moderate landscape impact and would boost the local economy.

The Friends of the Lake District said the Open Spaces Society, the British Mountaineering Council, and the Fell and Rock Climbing Club of the English Lake District also support their position in opposing the application.

A spokesperson said: “We would support a ‘family friendly’ cycleway but don’t believe that the benefits of creating this would outweigh the negative impacts of the zipwire.

“We would also oppose any related commercial development that may arise from the creation of the cycleway.

“Supporters of the proposals have argued that Thirlmere is a degraded landscape because it is a reservoir and not a lake. We do not agree.

“The reservoir, completed in 1894, is man-made – it replaced a smaller natural lake – but Thirlmere is still a beautiful, undeveloped valley.”

Ms Fiske said: “While Friends of the Lake District supports the need to strengthen the local economy with appropriate development in the right location, this is inappropriate in the open countryside.

“Since the establishment of the national park, development has rightly been restricted to protect the outstanding beauty and sensitive environment of the Lake District. The right to enjoy free access to the unspoiled and spectacular landscapes is vital to Cumbria and the Lake District’s tourism industry.

“This development would severely affect the opportunity of many visitors to peacefully enjoy the landscapes of the Thirlmere valley and surrounding fells and should be refused.”

The Friends said they are currently writing their formal response to the application which will be submitted to planners before Christmas.

Full details of the application are on the Lake District National Park Authority website.

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