Outdoor groups have told the Government it must act to save Britain’s first national park from being ravaged by quarrying.
Backdale Quarry, Longstone Edge
Both the Ramblers’ Association and the British Mountaineering Council have teamed up with other conservation groups to urge Labour ministers to fund an appeal against the resumption of work at Longstone Edge, the limestone quarry at the centre of one of the most protracted battles to preserve the landscape of the Peak District.
This summer marks the fifth anniversary of quarrying restarting at Longstone by Bleaklow Industries and MMC under a 50-year-old consent. A stop notice served on the quarry by the Peak District National Park Authority was quashed by a High Court judge, who also overturned the decision of a public inquiry.
Supporters of the authority say it cannot afford to fight the judgement without further funding and mineral extraction has resumed at Backdale on Longstone Edge.
The Longstone Edge Coalition, which includes the RA and BMC, welcomed the decision by authority to appeal against March’s High Court ruling, but said the Government and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs must act quickly or 350 ha (865 acres) of irreplaceable landscape will be lost forever.
David Murray, countryside campaigner for the Ramblers' Association, said: “We’ll soon have to rename this beautiful, much walked and cherished landscape ‘Long-gone Edge’ if the Government doesn’t step in immediately to help the national park authority stop the demolition.
“Without funding the authority will not be able to take the necessary action to save Longstone Edge for future generations.”
Ruth Chambers, deputy chief executive of the Campaign for National Parks, has written to Defra Secretary of State Hilary Benn. She urged the Government to ‘give the highest priority’ to saving Longstone Edge.
Ms Chambers said: “The irreplaceable national park land at Longstone Edge has, this year, suffered five years of devastation from quarrying.
“The Government must act now to save this precious land that it is bound to protect, because fresh ground is being cleared for further quarrying.“
“The Government’s actions towards Longstone Edge are of national significance; a positive response from Hilary Benn would boost this government’s track record on protecting our finest landscapes.”
The 1952 quarrying permission under which the Longstone companies operate allows for ‘the winning and working of fluorspar and barytes and for the working of lead and any other minerals which are won in the course of working those minerals, by turning over old spoil dumps, by opencast working and by underground mining’.
Opponents say the quarry operators are mainly taking out limestone and the amount of fluorspar and barytes is minimal and incidental.
The Longstone Edge Coalition is made up of the RA, the BMC, the Campaign for National Parks, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Friends of the Earth, Friends of the Peak District, Plantlife and the Save Longstone Edge Group.
The Peak District National Park was established in 1951. It has 74,788 ha (184,805 acres) of environmentally sensitive areas.