A planning application for an ‘Activity Hub’ at Thirlmere comprising multiple zipwires across Thirlmere itself and an 18km ‘family friendly’ cycle way has been submitted to the Lake District National Park by Tree Top Trek.
Landscape conservation charity Friends of the Lake District is opposing the scheme, which is currently out for public consultation (Planning Reference: 7/2017/2298), and is urging people to object to the application. Responses must be sent to the Lake District National Park Authority by 2nd January, 2018.
Laura Fiske, planning officer at Friends of the Lake District said: “If approved, this application would have significant harmful impacts on the landscape and tranquillity of the Thirlmere valley. Fundamentally we consider that introducing commercial activity into this area would be at odds with the reasons for the designation of the Lake District, as it conflicts with laws and planning policies that protect the spectacular landscapes of our National Parks.
“The development would also create an unacceptable precedent – if approved it would open up the whole Lake District National Park and other national parks to inappropriate development.
“National Parks are for everyone to enjoy not just those who can afford to participate in so called adventure experiences.”
Friends of the Lake District’s objections to the proposal in summary:
- This application for 8 Zip Wires across Thirlmere conflicts with the legal purposes of the National Park and is at odds with planning policies to protect the spectacular landscape and promote sustainable tourism.
- Visitor management and traffic impacts related to the introduction of large-scale commercial development
- The creation of the zip wire development would have a significant impact on the beauty and tranquillity of the Thirlmere Valley and would set a precedent for further commercial activity around Thirlmere, the wider valley, and the Lake District National Park as a whole.
- As the birthplace of the conservation movement, Thirlmere makes an important contribution to the recently awarded World Heritage Site status and the impacts of this development on an internationally, as well as nationally, protected landscape must be considered.
The Open Spaces Society, the British Mountaineering Council, and the Fell and Rock Climbing Club of the English Lake District also support Friends of the Lake District’s position in opposing this application.
What about the Cycleway?
We would support a ‘family friendly’ cycleway but don’t believe that the benefits of creating this would outweigh the negative impacts of the the zip wire. We would also oppose any related commercial development that may arise from the creation of the cycleway.
Not a degraded landscape
Supporters of the proposals have argued that Thirlmere is a degraded landscape because it is a reservoir and not a lake. We do not agree. The reservoir, completed in 1894, is manmade, (it replaced a smaller natural lake) but Thirlmere is still a beautiful, undeveloped valley. The application recognises the quality of the landscape, describing it as a ‘well-managed rural landscape which is in excellent condition… and possesses a rare scenic quality.
Laura Fiske continued: “While Friends of the Lake District supports the need to strengthen the local economy with appropriate development in the right location, this is inappropriate in the open countryside. Since the establishment of the National Park, development has rightly been restricted to protect the outstanding beauty and sensitive environment of the Lake District. The right to enjoy free access to the unspoiled and spectacular landscapes is vital to Cumbria and the Lake District’s tourism industry. This development would severely affect the opportunity of many visitors to peacefully enjoy the landscapes of the Thirlmere Valley and surrounding fells and should be refused.
“We are currently writing our formal response to the application which will be submitted to the Planners before Christmas.”
For more information on how to object see Friends of the Lake District’s website: https://www.friendsofthelakedistrict.org.uk/thirlmere