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Letter: Zip wire plan rethink urged
4:18pm Thursday 7th March 2013 in Opinion
The recent plan to locate a zip-wire within the confines of the quarry and adjacent crags on Honister Hause was rejected by the Lake District National Park Authority, not on principled grounds (no zip-wires in the Lake District) but on grounds of inappropriate-ness in this location - no zip-wires on Honister Hause.
This rejection on location-specific grounds is questionable on three counts.
The human impact on the natural environment is already plain to see. The B5289 road over the Pass has a regular Stagecoach bus service; on its top is a YHA hostel.
We also find what amounts to the elephant in the room - the highly visible remains of the slate mines along with a museum, shop, ample car park, and so on. Despite this, Honister Hause is still a place of natural beauty. Actually, this human impact provides added cultural value, along with the man-made walls of natural stone. Nature and culture fit nicely together here, as too would a zip-wire.
A second reason is that this zip-wire was planned to cohere with the current Honister environment, as opposed to the pipe-dream, Honister shortly after the volcanoes and glaciers had done their work.
We can't go back to a wild environment devoid of people. We can look forward, and the future necessarily includes people who, quite naturally have interests in the many aspects of mountain life.
Today, that includes zip-wires in 1,001 locations of comparable natural beauty around the world. Honister’s beauty is not incompatible with standard mountain delights such as zip-wires.
A zip-wire is likely to appeal to young people to whose generation I doubt many of the planning committee belong.
It is question-begging to rely predominantly on the judgment of one generation on matters of direct concern to the reasonable enjoyment of a different generation.
Further, such enjoyment is quiet in the sense of the aims of UK National Park legislation - a zip-wire is not a speed boat, and far quieter than the endless roar of traffic on the B5289.
Large groups of people regularly meet on Honister to engage in mountain walks on the paths to Dale Head, Fleetwith Pike and elsewhere. I am complicit, I joined a few years ago a tour of 80 or so walkers organised by The Guardian newspaper to walk from Honister to Great Gable.
Did this group disturb the natural tranquillity?
You bet it did, but we enjoyed it! Why is that acceptable, but the enjoyment arising from zip-wires not so?
For the record, I belong to the older generation, and regularly walk in our admirable Lake District. I have no financial interest in zip-wires on Honister, nor anywhere else. Nor am I likely to use a zip-wire on Honister or elsewhere. But other people, especially young people, are another matter.
Planning committee members - I urge you to re-visit and to reverse your decision.
Professor Emeritus Leslie Smith, Staveley