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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

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Plans for Lake District zip wire re-submitted

Debate over a controversial zip wire in the Lakes District could be settled once and for all, if new plans are approved.

Barry Surtees photo
Barry Surtees

Proposals for the adrenalin-fuelled attraction at Honister Slate Mine were first submitted to planners at the Lake District National Park by mine owner Mark Weir.

He died in March last year in a helicopter crash.

Mark withdrew his plans after he was concerned about the controversy surrounding them, but they were resurrected by his partner, Jan Wilkinson, after his death. These revised plans were rejected in September.

Planners rejected the proposals, citing the impact on the “natural beauty” and “tranquility” of the lakes as a key reason.

The mine has always refuted these arguments, insisting the mine is an industrial area and the zip wire could only enhance the facilities available to thrill-seekers in the Lake District.

The debate appeared to be at a stalemate, but Honister owners have now submitted new proposals.

The new zip wire would be split into two parts; the first running from Honister Crags and running to the mine entrance; while the second would run from the mine to the car park, and be open to children and families.

The key difference with these proposals though, is the request is for only 18-month temporary permission.

Barry Surtees, marketing manager for the mine, explained: “These plans would give us a whole year’s seasonal viewpoint of the zip wire from the consumers and visitors to the area – this is important, because you get different sorts of consumer coming through Borrowdale at different times of the year.”

The University of Cumbria has agreed to carry out a visitor perception assessment study on Honister Slate Mine, Honister Pass, Borrowdale, Keswick and Honister Slate Mine Ltd.

“We will have a full-year assessment with a robust report which, hopefully, will confirm that the majority of people think the zip wire is acceptable,” Mr Surtees added.

“However, we don’t know what the perception will be – that has been the sticking point [with past applications]. This will tell us all.”

The plans are currently with the council, and open to public comment. They are expected to be discussed by members in January 2013.

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