Countryside campaigners are celebrating a legal victory today which will help to save a beautiful landscape in the Peak District National Park being scarred by uncontrolled limestone quarrying.
In the latest stage of a long-running legal battle over Backdale Quarry on Longstone Edge, the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the Peak District National Park Authority and the Government. The Court upheld their appeal against a controversial High Court decision by Justice Sullivan last year.
Controversy has centred on interpreting an old planning permission which determined how much limestone could be extracted whilst getting out the mineral fluorspar. A previous public inquiry ruled that this should be limited to a ratio of two parts of limestone to one part of fluorspar. This was then overturned last year in the High Court.
Since then the quarry operators MMC had resumed limestone quarrying with a vengeance, to the dismay of local residents, visitors and the Longstone Edge Coalition , a national group of campaigning organisations.
“This is fantastic news, and a huge relief,” said Andy Tickle, a Coalition spokesperson and Head of Planning at Friends of the Peak District. “We are really happy to see a more considered view has been taken about what the planning permission means, and that this iconic Peak District landscape is being saved.”
However, the Coalition warns that the situation may not be completely resolved yet.
“Although this is marvellous news, it isn't necessarily the end of the story. We do not think that this welcome judgment alone is sufficient for quarrying to be controlled properly in the future. We're now calling on DEFRA to buy out the planning permission completely. Only this will make Longstone Edge absolutely safe from future unscrupulous quarrying,” said Ruth Chambers, Acting Chief Executive of the Campaign for National Parks.
Meanwhile, the Coalition is demanding that MMC comply with the judgment and stop limestone quarrying immediately.