Friends of the Lake District organised a rally opposing the Thirlmere plans in January

Friends of the Lake District organised a rally opposing the Thirlmere plans in January

Battle lines are being drawn up to fight another large-scale tourist development in the Lake District, just months after plans for a zipwire were withdrawn.

The Friends of the Lake District will this weekend hold a rally to raise awareness of concerns over the future of the national park.

The Latrigg Rally aims to post the question: ‘What are national parks for?’

It is being organised after the Lake District authority included in its local plans a proposal to build a gondola-style cable car up the fellside to the Whinlatter visitor centre, north-west of Keswick.

The Friends said tourist attractions such as the proposed Whinlatter scheme threaten to erode the protection of one of the nation’s most treasured landscapes and undermine the principles on which national parks were founded.

The cable car plans have sparked strong opposition from residents in the area, it added.

Lord Clark of Windermere, the man who led the bid for the Lake District to become a Unesco world heritage site, will speak at Saturday’s rally, along with broadcaster, diver and adventurer Paul Rose, and acclaimed film-maker Terry Abraham, who is currently working on the third of his trilogy of cinematic portraits of Lakeland mountains.

Lord Clark has already raised his own concerns that the Lake District National Park Authority should put more emphasis on protecting the landscape which attracts visitors rather than seeing world heritage status as a ‘money making venture’.

Douglas Chalmers, chief executive of Friends of the Lake District, said: “There has been concern for some time that the Lake District national park is becoming too commercialised.

“This feeling has increased in recent months through the threatened zipwires across Thirlmere and now a suggested cable car to Whinlatter. These proposals and others like them are generating a wider awareness of what is at stake and driving the debate about what our national parks are for.

The rally will involve a walk to Latrigg

The rally will involve a walk to Latrigg

“The landscape and the experiences it provides are the attraction, and many tourism businesses benefit directly from this. It is what brings millions of visitors and supports tens of thousands of jobs, and those numbers continue to increase. Artificial attractions will not benefit, but actually will threaten our environment, our economy and our local communities.

“The government has recently launched a review of national parks to ensure designated landscapes are fit for the future. They were set up for the wellbeing of the nation, and that need may be even greater now.”

The rally forms part of a week of events and free activities organised by the Friends as part of its annual Great Landscapes Week celebrations, running from Saturday 4 August to Friday 10 August.

The rally will take place on Saturday from 10.30am to 2.30 pm, walking from Keswick up Latrigg which allows a view of the site for a suggested cable car route. Anyone wishing to can take part can book now via Friends of the Lake District’s website where details of other events are also available.

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