Conservation Series

Thirlmere Zipwire Plans Dropped

A controversial planning application to build a zipwire attraction across Thirlmere in the Lake District has been withdrawn today.

The eight zip wires would have passed over the lake near Deergarth How Island  © Friends of the Lake District
The eight zip wires would have passed over the lake near Deergarth How Island
© Friends of the Lake District

The scheme submitted to local planners by local company Treetop Trek would have seen the creation of an 'activity hub', with eight zip wires up to 1200m long passing directly over Thirlmere.

The idea gave rise to a storm of protest. Conservation, walking and mountaineering groups including Friends of the Lake District (FLD), the BMC, the Fell and Rock Climbing Club and the Open Spaces Society were united in opposition, arguing that the development was profoundly unsuited to the location, and risked undermining the purpose of the National Park.

Local protests were held, and in an opinion piece on UKH Chris James of FLD reflected the strength of feeling - see here.

But according to the company, it was Ministry of Defence reservations about the danger to low-flying fighter aircraft that caused them to withdraw their existing planning application.

In a statement Mike Turner, Managing Director of Treetop Trek Ltd, said:

"We made it clear from the beginning of this process that we would not propose a scheme that was not supported by the MOD. To date we have received two contradictory communications with the MOD; one supporting the scheme and the other opposing the scheme."

"The MOD's internal investigation into Thirlmere and into what they would be happy with at Thirlmere is ongoing and unlikely to be resolved within the next eight weeks, so on that basis we are withdrawing the application."

It remains to be seen whether the company continues to pursue the proposal with a fresh planning application.

Friends of the Lake District, among others, campaigned against the proposals on the fundamental point that the location was inappropriate for this type of development.

"National Parks rightly have the highest level of landscape protection through the National Planning Policy Framework and this proposal flew in the face of the purposes of Nationals parks" they said in a statement released this afternoon.

"These special landscapes are the breathing spaces of our country, an opportunity for all to enjoy their unique qualities and restorative benefits for free and regardless of age."

"That is why we believe the Treetop Trek proposal was entirely inappropriate and would deprive future generations the opportunity to enjoy the Lake District National Park. It's a National Park that Friends of the Lake District campaigned for and one which we continue to fight for. We remain dedicated to protecting, enhancing and when called upon, defending the landscapes of the Lake District from threat."

"We welcome the Ministry of Defence's decision to object to this proposal and the subsequent withdrawal of the application by Treetop Trek."

"The same is true of the objection by Cumbria County Council Highways on public safety grounds. These are all issues we considered to be insurmountable by the applicant but, as it is outwith our remit as a landscape organisation, we did not object on these grounds. Our role is to highlight the importance of National Parks, the multi-faceted benefits we all gain, and the protection they have from inappropriate development."

"The withdrawal of this application due to technical reasons is of course positive but we would also draw attention to the many people who felt compelled to write to the Planning Authority to urge them to refuse this application because of the detrimental landscape impacts to the Lake District National Park and World Heritage Site."

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