THE owners of Honister Slate Mine are set to appeal after Lake District National Park Authority planners refused their application for a temporary zip wire.

Jan Wilkinson said she was just waiting for the paperwork to come through from the authority and then she would put the process in motion immediately.

Vice-president of the Friends of the Lake District, Sir Chris Bonington, quit his role with the organisation in the immediate aftermath of yesterday’s decision.

He said he was appalled by the presentation put forward by Friends of the Lake District against the proposals, and that it was the ‘most unreasonable decision’ made by members.

Bonington, the famed Lake District-based mountaineer, has found his loyalties divided after championing the scheme, which the Kendal-based conservation charity has always opposed on environmental grounds.

He told the Gazette: "I'm sad for Jan (Wilkinson), the owner of Honister, and all those at the mine that have turned it not just into a great visitor attraction, but something that is informative and educational.

"The zip wire would have been something that would have given people a lot of enjoyment and excitement and would have been good for the Lake District as a whole."

Ms Wilkinson had argued that the zip wire was needed to generate additional income to financially support the slate side of the business.

Jonathan Denby, president of the Lakes Hospitality Association and hotelier, called the decision 'shocking'. "The Lake District is not a museum," said Mr Denby.

"We should be thinking of tomorrow's younger visitors, not the day before yesterday's."

But the Friends of the Lake District said there are more suitable places for zip wires.

A statement read: "We are pleased that the Lake District National Park Authority members agreed that the scale of this proposal in this location was inappropriate and the open fell should remain free from man-made developments, protected for everyone’s benefit.

“This is the best decision for the Lake District’s wider tourism economy now and in the longer-term.

“The decision reaffirms the previous refusal, recognising that recreational activities reliant on man-made infrastructure and harmful to the landscape should not be allowed in sensitive locations.

“Zip-wires and GoApe tree assault courses are best located in forest settings as they are in other parts of the UK.”

Today's decision mirrors a similar refusal by the LDNPA for a zip wire at the mine in September 2011 - when the same committee controversially allowed a zip wire, albeit far smaller, at its Brockhole Visitor Centre.

Officers at the LDNPA had recommended to the committee that it give approval to the latest Honister bid with certain conditions, but after hearing arguments for and against today, the majority vote of members was against.

The decision prompted a rebuke of the LDNPA from SLDC member, Tom Harvey, who said: "Unelected, unaccountable, undemocratic, anti-business and out of touch. It must be time for a serious shake up."

The mine had hoped to test public attitudes towards zip wires in open countryside by winning temporary planning permission from the LDNPA for a year in order to commission surveys to properly test people's reactions to the development in an open landscape.

However, key opponents included both Buttermere Parish Council and Borrowdale Parish Council which serve the communities directly neighbouring the tourist attraction.

The official reason given for the rejection was 'impact on the landscape'.
Within moments of the decision, the Honister Twitter account tweeted: "No Zip Wire for Honister :•( ," while the Friends of the Lake District tweeted: "Zip Wire turned down!"

The scheme was originally proposed by the late mine owner, Mark Weir, who was tragically killed in a helicopter crash in March 2011.


Members for:

John Thompson

Anne Hall

Bill Jefferson

Joe Holliday


Members against:

Jeremy Rowan Robinson

Norman Clarkson

John Hayton

Colin Barr

Sue Brown

Judith Cook

Mike McKinnley (chairman)