Today the planning committee of the Lake District National Park Authority has given officers delegated approval to agree Honister Slate Mine’s Aerial Flight – subject to conditions. The 10-member planning committee voted 7-3 in favour.
Joe Weir, Co-Owner Honister says, “We are over the moon that the Aerial Flight has been approved, subject to conditions. It’s been a long process, we lodged the first proposal nearly a decade ago. I would like to commend the development control members as they clearly studied the proposal in depth and appreciated the benefits, not just for tourism but for industry and the wider community.
“We know what it means for the people who work here now, and I can only imagine how proud our ancestors would be. They’d have appreciated seeing new technology being used to bring slate out more efficiently, and most of all, that we are keeping the mine alive and providing additional year round employment.
“The Aerial Flight will follow the path of old industrial workings which were in use up until 1926 transporting slate along the side of Fleetwith Pike via an aerial wire. The modern version will have the dual purpose of outdoor adventure and industry; offering an adrenaline fuelled descent for people climbing the Via Ferrata and providing a financially viable way to bring walling slate, piled up by previous generations of miners in the tunnels, down the mountain. This type of slate is scarce within the Lake District National Park with architects, builders and developers keen to keep the traditional look of the area, and we have tonnes of it sitting in tunnels ready to be brought down the mountain.”
Jan Wilkinson, Co-Owner Honister says; “This is a big day for us, the Aerial Flight development is vital to the survival of Honister. It’s important because of what it represents, in the context of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Cultural Landscape, it is deeply connected to the heritage of the mine, whilst also being innovative and forward looking. By supporting the two interconnected sides of our business, we can ensure there is a resilient business model that will stand the test of time. We need to make sure we are investing in the future to ensure the next generation can live, work and bring up their families in the area.
“We are committed to opening up the landscape for all to enjoy. In these plans we have included a second section of wire with accessible features to enable people in wheelchairs or with limited mobility, the chance to experience the thrill of outdoor adventure.
“We have a role as guardians of this special landscape and I believe that by creating life enhancing experiences for everyone to enjoy at any age, we are helping to develop a love and understanding of the special qualities of the national park we are privileged to call home.
“The combination of supporting tourism, education and industry to provide a long-lasting benefit for people living, working and visiting the Lake District is why we have battled for over a decade to get the Aerial Flight approved.”
Says Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society said: “The zip-wire would be an unacceptable intrusion in this wild area; it would be highly visible from the adjoining fells and would create an irreconcilable conflict with the protection of the natural beauty of the park. We consider it to be contrary to the purposes of the national park, and to breach the Sandford Principle which requires that, where conservation and recreation are in conflict, the park authority must give priority to conservation.
“Now that the Lake District is a World Heritage Site it deserves even greater protection. We believe that the park authority members have demonstrated a lamentable lack of care for this splendid and unique area.
“The committee members have overruled the expert advice of their officer, and we fear that this will set a precedent for allowing inappropriate development in national parks.
“While we are not against zip-wires or adventurous recreation, we consider that this one is most definitely in the wrong place.
“We shall talk to the other objectors about what action we might take. We do not consider this battle yet to be over,’ Kate concludes.”