Save Cowdale Quarry group members have discovered new information about what the developers propose for the quarry.

The Operations Director in charge of two local Buxton quarries told campaigners that quarry equipment contractors have been asked to quote for a 5 year programme of spoil heap excavation and aggregate extraction. According to the senior manager, the mining process will involve stripping off all topsoil from the quarry floor and replacing it with waste from the spoil heaps. The aggregate extracted will then be sold off.

The spoil heaps, together with a new roadway, contain 1.75 million tons of material to be dug out and processed and could earn the developer around £12million. Clearly, in spite of what the developers say, there will be no access to the quarry by climbers or anyone else for 5 years at least, and what is left will be a desolate wasteland until it is built upon – if ever.

If they extract 250,000 tons per year and cart it off-site this means 80 HGV movements per day, every working day for 5 years.

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Frustrated by the lack of suitable ‘artists impression’ style images at the recent Express Park Buxton open day, campaigners against the plans for Cowdale Quarry have decided to produce their own. Above is how the Quarry will most likely look from the Southwest across the Wye Valley, a view from within the Peak Park.

The photo below shows how Express Park Buxton plan to level the site by removing the spoil heaps (outlined in red).

The Save Cowdale Quarry campaign has organised a public meeting, which plans to run an exhibition of the proposal alongside pictures of the quarry – of both when it was being worked (i.e. over 60 years ago), and as it is now. The details are as follows:

DateSaturday, 24th April

Time1.30 – 4.30 pm

VenueBuxton Methodist Church, Chapel Street, Buxton, SK17 6HX (click here for a map)

A speaker from CPRE is now confirmed, and a speaker from the Green Party has been invited. You can show your support for the meeting on facebook, and the campaign’s facebook page can be found here.

Cowdale Quarry, about 2 miles east of Buxton, was last quarried for limestone in 1948 and has spent the intervening years returning back to nature with many mature trees and wildlife. It is a popular spot for climbers, walkers and picnickers and has been used for years as grazing land. Unfortunately this tranquil spot is now under threat from massive development in the shape of a 5 hectare mineral water bottling plant within a 20 hectare business park and surrounded by 800 car parking spaces. The proposal also includes massive excavations on the A6 to drive a new entrance into the quarry through the side of Ashwood Dale and the removal of thousands of tonnes of what are now tree covered spoil heaps. Many councils with old quarry workings in their areas would give a lot to see them restored naturally in this way but the proposal will destroy most of what is now there. The development amounts to an industrial abomination in a rural location and must be fought against and refused.

The quarry is in an Area of Special Landscape adjacent to the Peak Park and is registered as agricultural land. Wildlife includes nesting kestrels, bats, lizards and badgers with sightings of sparrowhawk and goshawk. It is not in the High Peak Borough Council local plan as development land and any development there would totally contrary to HPBC planning policy. Why then has the council not thrown out the application? There is a whiff that big business is involved and maybe the council see new jobs, but the site cannot be reached on foot or by any transport other than car and is totally unsustainable. The planning inspector removed Foxlow Farm on the outskirts of Buxton from the allocation of land for business because the demand for new office space in Buxton was so low. Why is this application even being considered?

The HPBC planning committee will be meeting in the next couple of months to make a decision, please make your views known soon using the comments button here.

In addition, there is now a facebook group for the campaign, where you can express your support and/or stay informed about developments, as well as become more involved.

Earlier this year High Peak ran a joint consultation on the Core Strategy for its Local Development Framework with Derbyshire Dales. Clearly, at least in the area of Housing, it is not happy with the results. What the Borough planners were hoping for and did not get from the consultation were clear indications from residents that they accepted the need for 6000 new houses to be built in High Peak [outside of the National Park] and a definite opinion as to where they should go.  These they did not get because the majority of people do not see the justification for this amount of development and are not prepared to pay the price in the destruction to their environment. Residents were not asked how much new housing they were prepared to accept overall in High Peak and therefore, quite correctly, were not prepared to say where it should go.

This leaves our planners with a problem. The Core Strategy document will eventually go to a public inquiry. The Inspector will approve it only if High Peak can show that it has solid grounds for the policies that it backs. If the Inspector decides that the support expressed by the public for a particular policy is too weak then he may reject the document. In that case, the Authority would have to go through the laborious process of producing a new document.

So what is High Peak’s answer to this problem? It is to ignore the fact that nobody wants the proposed level of new housing and to ask the same question all over again, ‘Where do you want all these new houses to go?’ This is the sole issue addressed in the new consultation touted in its press release of  24 August, ‘Your Say On New Housing’.

But why should we respond to this when we were given no say in how much new housing should be built in the first place? The demand for 6000 new housing units by 2026 has been laid upon the Borough by the East Midlands Regional Government. The figure was cooked up ‘behind closed doors’ essentially without the involvement of the public, making a mockery of Central Government’s supposed commitment to a policy of  increased local democracy.

Many members of the Council are very unhappy with the figure. Linda Baldry, the Executive member for Planning, in an earlier press release [13 Nov 2008], commented that to meet the target [in one place] would require a new town the size of Whaley Bridge and Chapel put together.

Again, recently, a Councillor told the Glossop Chronicle,

‘Until a short time ago, Glossop was already over its housing quota. Then the government moved the goal posts…. He added with regard to the 1,300 new homes [the target for Glossopdale] “Where will we put them? There are only the hills left. Glossop is already grid-locked with traffic, just think how many extra cars 1,300 homes could come up with.’

But apparently we have moved on from last November when Linda Baldry felt free to say what she felt. The Councillor who spoke to the Chronicle only on condition that he remained anonymous. What on Earth is going on here? Seemingly, Council Officials are trying to gag our representatives in order to smother opposition to the new housing targets. Why are we employing officials who stifle our representatives in order to push through a policy on which we were not consulted, is not in our interests and to which we did not agree? If our Councillors are not free to speak their minds then there is no chance of our opinions receiving a fair hearing. If all our Councillors are allowed to do is to play a role in a pantomime then the only honest thing they can do is to resign.

The best course of action that High Peak [and Derbyshire Dales] Councils could take in this situation is to have the courage tell the East Midlands Regional Government that they do not accept the housing targets that it has handed down to them. Furthermore if new ones are to be set it should be with the full participation of the people of the Peak District on the basis of criteria agreed by them.

Keep High Peak Green will have a stall at the twentieth New Mills One World Festival. The Festival takes place next Saturday, the 20th June 2009.

On the day, you’ll be able to find out more about us and what we stand for, the campaigns we have taken part in and how to become involved in our activities. We’ll have a selection of leaflets to read, a petition, plus display items to look at.

We hope the weather is clement and we look forward to meeting you next week.

High Peak Borough Council published the latest consultation exercise in the creation of a new Local Development Framework on March 26th this year. Published jointly with Derbyshire Dales District Council, the Joint Core Strategy can be viewed and commented upon online.

HPBC’s latest press release makes it plain that the central thrust of the report is to implement the ridiculous housing targets imposed by the Government of the East Midlands, which we remarked on in November 2008. Whilst the document also deals with plan for other important areas such as Transport, Retail, Environment and Climate Change, the Housing section is the largest and will facilitate massive sections of the Greenbelt and Countryside in the High Peak to be handed over to developers.

Before the consultation ends, we plan to express our views on this matter and we would urge all those who are concerned about the future of the High Peak to also respond. The deadline for responses is Thursday 21st May 2009.

Just over 6 weeks ago, we noticed that the ‘planning applications’ section of High Peak Borough Council’s website was inaccessible. During this time, no one has been able to view the details of planning applications made to the Council via the Internet. All that has been provided by the Borough, and that only in the past couple of weeks, is a list of applications made. Application documents that we have a legitimate expectation to be able to examine in our own time on the web, have simply not been available to us nor any other interested party.

It needs to be stated that this is not the first time that problems with the planning portal have been experienced by the public:  indeed, as recently as January, concerned members of the public related to us how key documents for applications such as the controversial Lidl planning application at Brookfield in Hadfield could not be downloaded. There are many other examples, too many to state here now.

Having made enquiries with Officers and Councillors, it would appear that the explanation being offered is that a web server which hosts the information has broken down, and it is somehow taking all of this time to commission, fund and configure a replacement. Numerous deadlines have been given to the public over the past few weeks, but none of them have been met. Yesterday’s deadline is the latest and veritable final straw.

In an age where the Internet is becomingly increasingly connected to every part of our lives, we feel that the accessibility of such important information is vital – it is simply not good enough to point out that the information is also available at municipal buildings when most people work long hours and cannot access this part of the service.

If HPBC want to belong to the 21st Century, then it is vital that the Internet service is properly maintained 24 hours a day, 7 days a week & 365 days a year.

In the meantime, important information about planning applications is hidden from view and scrutiny. In these circumstances, Keep High Peak Green has already asked the Chair of the Development Control Committee, Councillor David Mellor, to consider postponing the Committee dates for major or contentious planning applications, and further allowing an additional 3 weeks to scrutinise such applications once the server has been restored. We are aware that other people have also made similar representations to their local Councillors.

We ask the Council to give serious consideration to our proposal as we feel that such disregard for public interest allied with a ‘stonewalling’ approach to serious and fundamental concerns about the local planning process cannot go unanswered.

As you are probably aware, by far the greater part or High Peak is in the Peak District National Park (PDNP). If we are to defend our countryside, we have to respond not only to High Peak LDF Core Strategy consultations but also to those of the Peak District National Park. Bear in mind that the Peak Park is a Planning Authority in its own right.

The current PDNP consultation is the second in the their Development Plan Process (DPP). and is referred to as the Core Strategy Refined Options Consultation. It can be accessed here.

Once on this page, to comment on the consultation document rather than just read it, you have to register as a consultee. However that is no big deal. Just click on ‘Login/Register’ at the top right of the page and follow your nose. This kind of thing is witlessly boring, we know, but a lot less time- consuming than responding to the consultation by writing a letter or an email (both of which are also possible). Again, the pay-off is worth the effort. You become one of a relatively small number of people whose opinions will influence the future planning policy of the National Park. Like it or not, the future is to those who use the internet most effectively!

The closing date for the consultation is 10th April 2009 (next Friday). Obviously just respond on matters that interest you. There is no obligation to respond to all the issues raised.

Possibly the most immediate and important matters that we need to address are under ‘Transport’ in chapter 8 of the consultation document. In particular we need to make our views known on the following issues:

T2 –  The demand for new road schemes to accommodate current and future levels of traffic growth, and

T3 –  The adverse impact of traffic

To secure the National Park for the future, the PDNP Authority needs strong and unambiguous policies in these areas. This is primarily because there is still pressure for a motorway or its equivalent across the northern end of the Park. This pressure has been whipped up entirely by Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council (TMBC) in conjunction with some shadowy business interests, to serve the dream of never-ending economic growth. TMBC has pushed hard for the Mottram-Tintwisle A628 bypass as a step towards its goal of a second transpennine motorway. This proposed bypass goes through a Nature Reserve (on stilts!) and a section of the Park. It destroys countryside, the natural beauty of the landscape, the flora and fauna of the Park, increases atmospheric pollution and fosters yet further reliance on road transport. The last official estimate puts its cost at £315 million. It achieves nothing for local people that would not be better served by a HGV ban on the A628. Such bans have worked well elsewhere. Thanks to the efforts of ‘Save Swallows Wood’ (a group campaigning to save the nature reserve), the CPRE and (latterly) the PDNP itself and Natural England, as well as many other activists, the proposal is in its death throes. Unfortunately it may well reincarnate in one new form or another.

That is why we should be considering supporting the following options (which are not mutually exclusive):

T2.3 – resist all new road schemes in the National Park, save in exceptional circumstances (you can harden the option if you like)

T2.4 – remove all ‘in principle’ support for any already proposed or new road in the National Park – including the Tintwistle relief road

T2.7 – research an environmental levy; investigate a Park-wide weight limit of 7.5t and improved public transport in order to relieve Tintwistle of its traffic problems, and

T3.5 – investigate the park-wide 7.5t weight limit

We hope you spend a few moments of your time to respond to the consultation.

High Peak Borough Council’s ‘Standards Committee’ met on 11th March 2009. This committee sets standards of behaviour for Councillors, the procedures which committees are obliged to follow and monitors their compliance with both.

Under Item 4 of the Agenda (link opens PDF), the Committee was asked to endorse a report by the Interim Monitoring Officer proposing a number of revisions to the Protocol for the conduct of the Development Control Committee. 

The proposed changes need looking at carefully to see how they might affect objectors to planning applications. However, we have some time to consider these proposals since, to our great surprise, the committee refused to adopt the revised protocol as it stood. The minutes of the meeting can be found here (link opens PDF).

As you can see [minute 09/28] one of the matters that they wanted reviewed was the 3 minute time limit for speakers at the Development Control Committee. They wanted to consider an extension to 5 minutes. Somehow or other the universal dissatisfaction of the public with the present three minute limit had filtered through to them. Miracles will never cease!

This presents us with an opportunity. A bit of lobbying will ensure that the committee supports an extension of speaking time to 5 minutes at its next meeting. This doesn’t require much effort from anyone who is interested.

What to do? Send an email to,

· your Councillor, copied to:
· the Chief Executive of High Peak [email – simonb@highpeak.gov.uk] and
· possibly members of the Standards Committee

If you notify us that you have done this [keephighpeakgreen@gmail.com] we will be able to assess roughly how much pressure we have brought to bear.

Your email might run along the following lines,

The Minutes of the Standards Committee meeting of 11 March 2009 record that it is calling for a review of the present 3 minute limit on speakers at Development Control Committee meetings with a view to increasing it to 5 minutes [Minute 09/28].

I strongly support this revision which I feel is long overdue. Please would you notify the the Standards Committee of my opinion on this matter. If you felt you could add your own support for this change to mine, I would be very grateful.

[ Name and address]

Try to formulate the email as far as possible in your own words.

A list of all the Councillors and their email addresses can be found at this link.

The members of the Standards Committee are:

Councillors –  T Bingham, Gadd, T Norton, G Platts, Thrane, J Wilkinson,

and –  Mr D Abbot, Mrs G Brooke, Mr P Matthews [Chairman].

The last three names on the list are not Councillors and their email addresses are not available on the Council website.