The Friends have launched their 'Sold' campaign

The Friends have launched their 'Sold' campaign

The charity that played a part in the setting up of a national park in the Lake District has thrown its weight behind calls to protect it from developments it says threaten its character.

The Friends of Lake District says it has set up its Save Our Lake District campaign in the face of numerous recent controversial plans and decisions.

The Friends’ chairman Douglas Chambers said the national park appears to be under siege: “The number of contentious situations when proposals for new developments within the Lake District national park have been challenged appear to be increasing. Objections from local communities, threats of judicial reviews and claims that ‘nobody listens’ are bad enough on an individual basis, but this is now an epidemic, and epidemics have to be stopped.

“Recreational vehicles on fell tracks, gondolas, inappropriate path surfaces and now gentleman’s yachts on Grasmere. Your national park is under siege while the statutory protection for its fragile beauty is being ignored. This must stop.

“The national media are asking what and who are national parks for, so we must act now to ensure the Lake District is managed in line with the principles and statutory purposes of national parks and that we protect its natural beauty.

“Everyone now realises the importance of physical and mental health in our day to day lives, and this was recognised by our national parks’ founders.”

The Lake District National Park Authority has come under fire in recent months over plans for a gondola cable car at Whinlatter; the resurfacing of the former Keswick to Threlkeld railway route in asphalt; the refusal to legislate against motor vehicle use of two green lanes in the Little Langdale area, and previously perceived support for zipwires in locations deemed by opponents to be inappropriate. Keswick Town Council passed a motion of no confidence in the park authority.

Grasmere, scene of the latest controversy. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Grasmere, scene of the latest controversy. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The latest battle is brewing over proposals by the Lowther Estate to place ‘gentleman’s yachts’ on Grasmere. The authority is due to determine whether such use needs planning consent.

The National Trust, which owns large parts of Lake District countryside including Grasmere Island and some of the lake’s shore, opposes the mooring of the 10 yachts, which would be up to 12m long and electrically propelled and used for overnight accommodation and recreational use on the lake.

The trust also campaigned for a traffic order to regulate motorised vehicles on the two routes near its farms at Tilberthwaite.

Mr Chalmers said: “The framework is already there. National parks have their statutory purposes, but here in the Lake District we can see where these are not being recognised or respected.

“We want to see the national park looked after, protected from damaging developments and encouraging those that conserve and enhance its natural beauty and cultural heritage. Parks should provide opportunities for free access and enjoyment, and a vital connection with nature for everyone regardless of race, ability or income.

“This is not a call for preservation. That would be destructive for our environment, businesses and communities. But it is a call to ensure that this jewel in the country’s crown is looked after properly – loved and not exploited – so that we and those who follow us can continue to enjoy it.

“As part of the campaign we will be taking part in and organising a number of events that shout loud and clear for the park to be properly managed.”

Social media groups No Go Gondola and Houseboats-off-Grasmere have been vocal in opposing recent developments and plans.

The Friends of the Lake District, which represents CPRE The Countryside Charity in Cumbria, says its campaigning helped lead to the creation of the Lake District national park. It has owned land in the area since 1937 and was also foremost in the campaign that led to the extension of the boundaries of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales national parks.

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