Today, Wednesday 24 July marks a significant breakthrough for Honister Slate Mine, the last working slate mine in England and adventure attraction in the Lake District, Cumbria, whose 12-year battle to secure planning permission has been given the stamp of approval by Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Right Honourable James Brokenshire MP.
In November 2018 the plans for the Aerial Flight development were given the go-ahead by the Lake District National Park Authority subject to conditions, with the planning committee voting 7-3 in favour.
Since early 2019 Natural England, Friends of the Lake District and Cumbria Wildlife Trust have been lobbying the Secretary of State to call in the planning application. The request to call in the application has been declined by the Secretary of State, who is content that it should be determined by the local planning authority.
Jan Wilkinson and Joe Weir are the co-owners of Honister welcomed this decision, saying; “We are absolutely over the moon. It feels like a huge weight has been lifted off our shoulders.
“The original decision by the Lake District National Park Planners has been ratified by the most senior level of planning authority in the country. We look forward to receiving the final sign-off on the planning conditions, so we can move forward with the next phase to get the Aerial Flight ready for the public to enjoy, along with maintaining supplies of stone for buildings within the National Park.
“We have received overwhelming support from individuals and organisations across Cumbria and in particular would like to thank Trudy Harrison our local MP for Copeland, the Lake District National Park Authority, Councillor James Airey, John Geldard, Cumbria LEP, Cumbria Tourism, Lake District Consortium and the Business Task Force who work intrinsically to keep the balance between the needs of businesses, visitors and our vibrant communities in the Lake District, whilst respecting the landscape that we all work and live in.”
Trudy Harrison MP Member of Parliament for Copeland said: “I have visited Honister Slate mine many times and most recently to speak at length with Jan Wilkinson.
“Jan and her brother-in-law Joe Weir are utterly committed to maintaining our unique and very special mining heritage. The zip wire will add a new, exciting and especially stunning aspect to our Adventure Capital Lake District, boosting tourism, creating jobs and ensuring we remain the first choice for families and friends seeking world class experiences in Cumbria. This is the decision I wanted and lobbied for, and I’m delighted to finally be moving forwards.”
The one-mile long Honister Aerial Flight will follow the path of old industrial workings which were in use up 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 within the tunnels, down the mountain. The Aerial Flight will also feature a section with accessible features enabling people in wheelchairs or with limited mobility, the chance to experience the thrill of outdoor adventure, further opening-up the UNESCO World Heritage Site landscape for all to enjoy.