Threats to our treasured Lake District landscape
by Kate Proctor, Sunday Sun
UNPRECEDENTED challenges are facing one of the North’s most treasured beauty spots as controversial development plans loom, campaigners say.
The Lake District National Park in Cumbria is currently at the centre of a dispute over plans for a nuclear waste burial site, a new nuclear power station next to Sellafield, miles of pylons, wind turbines and rumbling battles over a zip wire.
As high-profile Everest mountaineer Chris Bonington sensationally quit his position as vice-president of the conservation organisation Friends of the Lake District National Park, the organisation is now looking to its next hurdle in its quest to save the park’s open countryside.
Jack Ellerby, policy officer for Friends of the Lake District National Park – the group that Chris Bonington left after it refused to back plans for a zip wire to run along fellside at Honister Slate Mine – said: “There are massive threats, each one in themselves would be devastating.
“It’s one unprecedented challenge after the next.”
“The zip wire is just one of the many issues. Right now the burial of nuclear material under the park is of major concern.”
Vast repositories for radioactive waste are proposed near to the Eskdale valley and mudstone on the Solway to solve a serious national shortage of safe stores.
Jack said: “People do not trust this process and the issue is whether the geography is suitable.
He described Chris Bonington’s departure as sad as he had been such a strong supporter of their campaign against the Conservative Government’s decision to sell of Forestry Commission land in 2011 and was also a key fund- raiser.
“We weren’t against the zip wire,” said Jack, of the attraction that for many was seen as a vital part of the county’s ‘Adventure Capital’ marketing strategy to entice younger people into the park.
“It was where it was placed. A forest location would have been preferable.”
The zip wire proposal was turned down by park planners earlier this month.
Cumbria’s nuclear future also falls under the spotlight this week as when Allerdale and Copeland District Council meets on Wednesday to vote on whether to pursue the county as a repository site.
Jack said: “Beyond the repositories, there are also concerns about the pylons that would run from the new power station.
“All this energy is being exported to the South.
“How much energy and infrastructure are we going to have to put in to meet the needs of the nation without damaging our assets, our natural beauty? That’s the challenge.”