The zipwire will be build on the side of Honister Crag. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The zipwire will be built on the side of Honister Crag. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Planners in the Lake District have given the green light to a zipwire despite officers recommending the application be refused.

The national park authority’s development control committee voted seven to three in favour of the tourist attraction at Honister.

The applicants, Honister Slate Mine, said the 1km-long slide would be used for conveying slate when not in use by adrenaline-seeking visitors.

A previous application for a similar development at Honister, on the flanks of Fleetwith Pike, was turned down in 2011 and in March this year Treetop Trek withdrew its plans for twin zipwires across Thirlmere.

Conservation group the Friends of the Lake District said the development was inappropriate. The Wainwright Society, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Open Spaces Society and Natural England all objected to the plans, along with 124 members of the public.

The application was supported by 16 people, plus the Calvert Trust, Cumbria Tourism, several outdoor activity providers and Scottish Disability Sport.

Honister Slate Mine said the full 1,035m zipwire would be used by people who had climbed the existing via ferrata on Honister Crag. A shorter aerial slide, beginning lower down the fell, would be able to be used by people with disabilities.

A slate mine spokesman said he was over the moon with the decision.

Friends of the Lake District said: “We consider this to be a highly sensitive location and that this development will have a detrimental impact on the landscape character, tranquillity and biodiversity of the area.

“Both lines are intended to be used for the movement of stone and the shorter line is to be accessible for all including those who may not be able to access the full via ferrata.

“The applicant contends that the new uses outweigh the detrimental impacts of the proposal. While the two proposed new uses of the wire are commendable in terms of supporting the existing business use of the site and providing a new experience in the Lake District which is accessible for all, in our opinion, they do not outweigh the detrimental impacts of the scheme.”

The Friends said the zipwire was in conflict with the national park purposes; had potential impact on open access land; would affect tranquillity because of incongruous noise and movement, and would have an impact on the local road network.

The organisation said: “We feel that the application failed to provide sufficient information regarding the potential number of users, particularly on the additional shorter line.

“While the capacity of the ‘main’ line is limited by the numbers of people completing the via ferrata there will be no such restriction on the shorter line and it is likely to become a popular attraction in its own right.

“The application did not address this issue and we are now concerned that this development will intensify the tourism and recreation activity on the site and create additional noise and traffic impacts.

“We also have major concerns relating to the potential for adverse impacts on international biodiversity designations, concerns shared by Natural England in its response to this application.”

Joe Weir, co-owner of Honister Slate Mine said; “We are over the moon that the aerial flight has been approved, subject to conditions.

“It’s been a long process; we lodged the first proposal nearly a decade ago. I would like to commend the development control members as they clearly studied the proposal in depth and appreciated the benefits, not just for tourism but for industry and the wider community.

“We know what it means for the people who work here now, and I can only imagine how proud our ancestors would be. They’d have appreciated seeing new technology being used to bring slate out more efficiently, and most of all, that we are keeping the mine alive and providing additional year round employment.”

Mr Weir said the aerial flight will follow the path of old industrial workings which were in use until 1926 transporting slate along the side of Fleetwith Pike via an aerial wire.

“The modern version will have the dual purpose of outdoor adventure and industry, offering an adrenaline-fuelled descent for people climbing the via ferrata and providing a financially viable way to bring walling slate, piled up by previous generations of miners in the tunnels, down the mountain,” he said.

Jan Wilkinson, who was the partner of the late Mark Weir who began the revival of the mine and its tourist attraction and who is also a co-owner of Honister, said: “This is a big day for us. The aerial flight development is vital to the survival of Honister.

“It’s important because of what it represents, in the context of the Unesco world heritage site cultural landscape. It is deeply connected to the heritage of the mine, whilst also being innovative and forward looking.

“By supporting the two interconnected sides of our business, we can ensure there is a resilient business model that will stand the test of time.

“We have a role as guardians of this special landscape and I believe that by creating life-enhancing experiences for everyone to enjoy at any age, we are helping to develop a love and understanding of the special qualities of the national park we are privileged to call home.

“The combination of supporting tourism, education and industry to provide a long-lasting benefit for people living, working and visiting the Lake District is why we have battled for over a decade to get the aerial flight approved.”

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  2. Lakeland planners approve Honister via ferrata extension
  3. Treetop Trek firm opens talks on building Thirlmere zipwire in Lake District
  4. Friends of Lake District: Thirlmere zipwire plans are ‘litmus test for national parks’
  5. Honister mine cash helps Lake District environment project