Countryside campaigners have warned that a “dangerous precedent” is being set after two Peak quarries were given the green light to expand.
This week the Peak District National Park Authority announced that it had “secured the restoration” of Barton Hill and Dungeon quarries, in Birchover.
The authority added that “wildlife and the public will benefit from the re-shaping and landscaping” of the quarries.
But countryside campaigners believe members’ decision to approve Birchover Stone Limited’s planning on September 13 was “terrible news”.
A spokesperson for action group Stanton Against the Destruction of our Environment (SADE) said the Peak Park’s media spin was “truly impressive”.
The spokesperson said: “The Peak District National Park seems untouchable when it comes to quarrying. This contravenes numerous national park policies and we question whether it is even legal for the authority to re-open Dungeon and Barton Hill quarries – which were closed by order of the Secretary of State in 2010. How is it even possible that one committee meeting can overturn an order by the highest authority in the land?
“We feel a dangerous precedent has been set in Birchover and our concerns are so great we are taking legal advice.”
The new permission means that Birchover Stone has given up previous rights to quarry closer to Stanton Moor – home to National trust protected monument, the Nine Ladies stone circle. However, the application does state that the company will now be allowed a “net increase of 209,963 tonnes beyond that currently permitted”.
The Peak District National Park Authority refuted all of SADE’s comments. However, a spokeswoman conceded the authority’s response was “probably too long and complex to be published” as the issues raised were “legal matters and have to be presented in legal language in order to state our case correctly”.
A full response from the authority can be found by visiting www.matlockmercury.co.uk.
The Mercury approached Birchover Stone Limited, but nobody was available to comment on the agreement at the time of going to press.