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Results of the community vote on 12th December to the following question
“Are you in favour of the proposed zip wire installations in the Glenridding Valley?”
In Favour 13
Total Votes 384
As a result of this vote Tree Top Trek Issued the Following Statement:
‘Whilst I obviously regret not having been able to develop the concept into a proposal, the local community has made their views very clear and I will stand by our commitment not to pursue this any further in Glen Ridding. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to debate what was always going to be a contentious topic and in doing so have at least demonstrated that the zip wire concept is valid and broadly acceptable in the right location. I would like to thank the community again for their time. It is to their complete credit that they have been so unified in their response.’
Thank you all.
Just Say No to the Proposed Zip Wires in Glenridding
My posts here are normally celebrating the natural beauty and tranquillity of the Lake District, and of the Ullswater and Helvellyn area in particular – so I apologise in advance for using this platform for a bit of soap boxing. However it is precisely because I love the Lake District as it is, and want to protect it for the benefit of all, that I am about to rant on against the ludicrous proposals being mooted to install four, 100 mph, 1 mile long zip lines in Glenridding by Helvellyn and Ullswater.
YOU CAN SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR OUR FIGHT AGAINST THE ZIP WIRES RIGHT NOW AT
The Story so far…
The Lake District National Park (LDNP) has issued a planning advice statement to a company who are considering developing a new ‘attraction’ in Glenridding – at least 4 parallel, mile long, zip lines, with operating speeds of up to 100 mph, running from somewhere on Greenside mine, down the valley to the fields above Glenridding. On Monday 29th September I attended, along with 100 or so other residents from the Dale, a meeting at Glenridding Village Hall at which the company involved shared a platform alongside representatives of the National Park to answer questions from people about the proposals. In a nutshell they both said that no formal application for planning had been made but that Glenridding was being considered by the company “along with other options in the Lake District”. The company involved already runs a much smaller scale zip wire attraction in Windermere, coincidentally at the Lake District National Park visitor centre at Brockhole, and its business partner runs similar attractions in Wales. At the end of the meeting we were left no clearer as to when and if an application would be made, and on what basis a decision would be made as to whether to proceed by the company.
Four Reasons Why the Lake District National Park can NEVER say yes to a Zip Wire in Glenridding
So for what it’s worth here’s my message to the National Park and to the company as to why the answer they are looking for is simple and quick to make:
- Agreeing to it would be contrary to everything that the Lake District National Park Authority should stand for in terms of its founding objectives
- Zip Lines in the Ullswater and Helvellyn Area would be utterly out of keeping with the natural beauty, peace and tranquillity of the dale
- They would have a negative impact on the local economy by driving away people who already come here and stay here and spend here precisely because of its current “unspoilt” nature
- The National Park Authority has a clear conflict of interest given the considerable financial gain it would receive from installation of the “attraction”
Let me try and give a little more detail to each of these reasons
- This type of installation is contrary to the LDNP’s own objectives
The objective of the Park Authority according to its own website is “to conserve and enhance its natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage and to help people understand and enjoy its special qualities. National Parks are protected under legislation and the planning system to ensure conservation and enhancement of their special qualities not just for the present, but also for future generations of residents and visitors”. Not sure how 4 parallel mile long zip wires on metal pylons installed on a scheduled ancient monument in an area of outstanding natural beauty quite fits in with that then. There is even the “Sandford Principle” – Section 62 of the Environment Act 1995, which makes clear that if National Park purposes are in conflict then conservation must have priority.
- Ullswater and Helvellyn is an inappropriate place for such an “attraction”
People come to the Ullswater and Helvellyn area to enjoy the many varied activities already on offer, and to enjoy the unspoilt natural beauty, peace and tranquillity of the place. Whether it’s walking, mountain biking, fell running, climbing, canyoning, sailing, kayaking, canoeing, swimming or just relaxing and enjoying the views there are already an abundance of visitors, young and old who come here to have fun and enjoy themselves, without the need for additional gimmicks. There are already places where people can go for this sort of activity in the National Park, such as Whinlatter, Grizedale, and of course Brockhole. As for the mine itself, it is a scheduled ancient monument, and an SSSI and as such highly inappropriate for any sort of development. The mine also houses several hostels which are used by hundreds of children a year, many from areas of social deprivation, and for whom the whole benefit of coming to the area is to get an appreciation of nature – not likely if all they can see is the opportunity to zip down a mile long funfair ride. Sadly of course these sort of children wouldn’t be able to afford the zip line anyway – not the “grey pound” target market don’t you know…
- The new attraction is likely to have a negative economic impact on the local economy
One of the key perceived benefits of the new “attraction” is the likely economic benefits in terms of new jobs and increased visitors. However, as with all claims of obvious prosperity for all, it is worth looking at the real economic impact. As stated above many of the people who currently come to the area, and stay in the Hotels, B&Bs and cottages come because of its peace, tranquillity and natural beauty – the “unspoilt” nature of what you might call the “real” Lake District. It is highly likely that many of these people will not want to return if their peace and tranquillity is marred by the high noise levels generated by the zip lines, and their views are ruined by large metal pylons. In addition most of the revenue generated will actually go straight to the company running the attraction and the National Park themselves, but more on that shortly…
In all likelihood all that will happen is that current day trippers will be put off coming as they won’t be able to park and so the people that eat and drink in the cafes and spend money in the local shops will disappear. Meanwhile the people who stay for 2-3 days in B&Bs and Hotels and for week long stays in the local holiday cottages will simply go elsewhere, meaning there will be no one eating out in the local pubs and restaurants in the evening, or spending money during the day in the local shops – threatening existing local jobs.
As for the new jobs, by the company’s own admission, most of the jobs it has generated in Brockhole are seasonal low paid jobs. No one disagrees that we need more jobs for young local people in the Dale, but we need more skilled fulltime jobs which will allow them to thrive and support their own families. So basically unless you’re the “attraction” operator, the LDNP, or after a part time, seasonal, low paid job, then this will have no benefit to local people, and indeed is more likely to reduce their revenues and job prospects.
4. The LDNP has a clear conflict of interest in the whole thing
As the landowner of the site where the “attraction” is proposed, and many of the facilities to be used by visitors to it, there is a clear conflict of interest between LDNP’s primary role as the “protector” of the National Park through its planning committee and the commercial benefit it would directly receive as a landowner as a result of a positive planning decision. So how would the LDNP Authority benefit financially? Here’s 5 ways for a start.
- The proposal is for the visitors to the “attraction” park to in the LDNP car park in Glenridding – up to £8 a go currently
- “Riders” as they’re apparently called would then use the LDNP Tourist Information Centre in Glenridding to purchase their tickets, for which service again the LDNP would presumably be paid
- “Riders” would then be bussed up to Greenside Mine, potentially on a “land train” along a bridlepath, most of which is owned by, you’ve guessed it, the LDNP
- When arriving at the start of the “attraction”, “Riders” would be kitted out in a new visitor centre, which may well be the existing LDNP hostel at the site
- After no doubt having a coffee and cake in the new cafe which is likely to be built in the LDNP owned building, the “Riders” will then get into 4x4s to drive up the fell to then mount the steel pylon to start their ride, which of course is built on LDNP land and for which the company operating the “attraction” will be paying a premium rent.
So the positive for the Lake District National Park Authority is that they get money from the entire life-cycle – parking, ticket purchase, transport to the start, and of course the zip lines themselves. No conflict of interest there then….
Just so there is no doubt exactly where the LDNP stands on this issue – since I first published this blog I have been told that the Chief Executive of the LDNP himself made a phone call earlier in the year to the owner of one of the properties which would be most affected by the proposal to try and “sell” the idea to him. He failed in that endeavour but at least he’s now let the rest of us know how impartial the LDNP are likely to be if it ever comes to a planning vote. For those interested in the Planning Advice Statement this can be accessed here.
There are a host of other issues associated with the proposal – not least of which is that access to the mine is via a single track bridleway used regularly by walkers and bikers, who would struggle to keep using it when the “landtrain” is zipping up and down every 10 minutes or so. Not to mention other practical issues like parking, sewage issues, etc etc etc. The point is that given the four points above these other important considerations should not even need to be discussed. The very idea of scheme should be dropped – now and forever.
So Who Is Behind this Mad Plan?
I have deliberately not named the company responsible for the proposed scheme. There are enough clues out there if anyone wants to find out. As it goes I have nothing against them personally – I know what it’s like to build a business in the Lake District and I’m all in favour of local businesses looking to bring in jobs to the area – just make sure they’re the right jobs in the right area. To be honest I feel sorry for them as they’ll be wasting an awful lot of time, money and effort coming up with a proposal in the first place when the Lake District National Park authority should have told them from the off that it as a non-starter. So come on LDNP – as both the landowner and custodian of the National park – do the decent, sensible and obvious thing and tell the company that they’re wasting their time and they should direct their talents and efforts elsewhere. Now.
So what next?
Well as above we, the residents of the Dale, are simply waiting for the company to decide whether to submit a formal planning application or not, and for the National Park to then “do its thing”. There are other sites far more appropriate, not least of which is the fabulous Honister Site.
In the meantime please feel free to leave a comment below and let me know what you think. Also keep an eye out via my helvellyn twitter for #noziphere. WE NOW HAVE AN ONLINE PETITION – PLEASE VISIT https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/noziphere
Our original poll is below.