Friends of The Lake District launches legal challenge over Elterwater Zip World approval

The Lake District’s landscape charity is taking legal action to protect one of the most sensitive areas of the national park against a tourist development which threatens its tranquillity.


In May the Lake District National Park Authority approved plans to establish an adventure attraction at Elterwater Quarry, in the heart of the Langdales. The Planning Committee had previously rejected the proposal, largely because the increase in traffic could choke the area’s narrow, single-track lanes, already under pressure from high numbers of visitors.


Friends of the Lake District believes the revised travel plans submitted by the developers, Zip World and Burlington Slate, remain inadequate. The development would cause significant harm to the character of the area and the local community. Even a small increase in traffic in this sensitive landscape could have a big impact. The charity has concerns about the lawfulness of the decision in respect of the understanding of the Sandford Principle, the enforceability of the Travel Plan, and the assessment of the effects on the tranquillity of the landscape. It is therefore seeking a Judicial Review of the Planning Committee’s decision.


Michael Hill, CEO of Friends of the Lake District said: “Our charity has always acted as a ‘critical friend’ to the Lake District National Park Authority. We work in close partnership with them on many important issues, and in our recent manifesto we called for their funding to be doubled. As a friend, we believe we need to speak up when decisions are made which put this precious landscape under threat. That is why we have asked for the High Court to review the lawfulness of the approval of this adventure attraction.”


The charity believes that this development would cause great harm to the special character of this precious valley. 90,000 people signed a petition against the development at pre-application stage, and both the local Parish Council and ICOMOS, (the UNESCO body set up to monitor World Heritage sites) also oppose it. ICOMOS has repeatedly stated that the development risks undermining the landscape qualities of the valley; that Lakeland’s quarrying history would be trivialised, and that permission should not be granted.

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