No Threat of 'Zippermere'...for now

21 February 2018

Yesterday, we learnt that Treetop Trek had withdrawn its application for a new activity hub, which would have included eight zip-wires across the Thirlmere valley. Campaign for National Parks welcomed this news but we were very conscious of the language used by the developer’s managing director, Mike Turner in the media. He was quoted as saying:

"We made it clear from the beginning of this process that we would not propose a scheme that was not supported by the MoD.

"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."

While we are pleased the application has been withdrawn, we are concerned the comments imply that if the MoD can advise Treetop Trek that there is a proposal they would not object to, we are likely to see a revised planning application being submitted.

Campaign for National Parks submitted an objection to the proposal because we believed the proposal was in conflict with the statutory purposes of the National Park and contrary to a number of the National Park Authority’s planning policies. We are not anti all development within the Parks, we know they are living, working landscapes. But the impacts of this development on the beauty and tranquilly of the Lake District was clearly inappropriate.

Safe? The Lake District National Park.

The beautiful Lake District National park. Photo Credit: Lake District National Park Authority

We were also concerned about the precedent the application would set for commercial development in other National Parks if it were to get permission. So while we were pleased the MoD concerns had convinced the developer to withdraw the application, we wanted the protections in national planning to rule the development out as well.

Which is why we read with interest the draft planning officers report, which the Lake District National Park Authority published following a freedom of information request today.. The key paragraphs of the draft report are:

“ 6.11 Despite the weight I have attributed to these benefits [potential economic benefits, cycleway diversifying tourism offer], they do not in my view outweigh the following considerations:

  • the very significant landscape and visual effects identified
  • the substantial harm to the special qualities and Outstanding Universal Value of the Lake District
  • the fundamental impacts raised in objections from the Local Highway Authority and the Ministry of Defence
  • the volume of objections from individuals and a diverse range of organisations representing a broad range of interests at the local, regional and national level

6.12 For all of the reasons above my recommendation is that planning permission should be refused.”

We are pleased that the planning officer agreed with our concerns about the “very significant landscape and visual effects” of the development and the “substantial harm” it would cause to the special qualities of the Lake District. And that these were clear considerations in the decision to recommend refusal. We hope if the developer, or indeed others thinking about commercial development within the National Parks, will take this recommendation into consideration when developing any future proposals. We want people to be able to continue to visit and enjoy all of our National Parks, but recreational opportunities that undermine what makes the Parks special in the first place, are not appropriate in these beautiful and protected landscapes.



Fiona Howie is chief executive of Campaign for National Parks. You can help support our work by becoming a friend of Campaign for National Parks today!