ACCLAIMED outdoor film maker and photographer Terry Abraham has backed a campaign to say ‘no’ to a luge run visitor attraction on open countryside at Blaze Fell, near Armathwaite in Cumbria’s Eden Valley.

Terry, whose trilogy of films 'Life of a Mountain' charts the seasons and the people on three Lakeland fells, joined around 30 protesters on the footpath up Blaze Fell at Nord Vue Farm where he shared his opposing views of the proposal.

Landowner Charles Lowther and businessman Daniel Holder of the Quiet Site at Watermillock, have applied to Eden District Council for the 840 metre concrete luge run, chair lift, visitor facilities and parking for more than 100 vehicles close to the top of the fell at 225 metres.

Self-taught film-maker Terry’s work over several years has led him to create outdoor documentary films on the Lake District’s famous mountains - Scafell, Blencathra and most recently Helvellyn. He and his wife moved to live in the Eden Valley four years ago.

He says: “The beauty of the Eden Valley never ceases to take my breath away! Why do we need such an attraction when the area IS the attraction?

“Why the need for an attraction to the Eden area to help disperse visitor numbers from the Lakes - as mentioned in the planning proposal - when the attraction of Cumbria is the landscape!"

News and Star: PROTEST: Around 30 people turned out to walk Blaze Fell in protest to a Luge Track being builtPROTEST: Around 30 people turned out to walk Blaze Fell in protest to a Luge Track being built

On his Facebook Page, Terry posted: 'Cumbria’s economy ought to be rich in diversification reflecting and protecting what communities are left and not relying on tourism. Much like many other rural areas or at least endeavour to do.

"So, why the need for a luge track? On the outskirts of the Lake District National Park and near an AONB? By communities that won’t benefit from it at all? Up to twenty low-skilled jobs (no doubt seasonal) and alongside Open Access Land and County Wildlife Sites? Traffic on minor roads…no realistic benefit to nearby businesses despite what the proposed plans suggest.

"I passionately feel such landowners should be converting old dwellings into wee business hubs to encourage entrepreneurs, apprenticeships et al. Connected to bang on decent broadband etc. Alas, often the lowest and quick penny to be made is by converting such possible dwellings into holiday lets.

"Why not convert properties to something beneficial to the culture and heritage of the area even if times change as opposed to milking the cash cow of ‘overtourism’?

"It astonishes me and many, many others locally that one of the businesses involved in these proposals for a luge track owns an award-winning eco-friendly and all the rest campsite near Ullswater!

"Furthermore, the major landowner involved has sought to bring back beavers to Cumbria and more such wonderful things atop of that, that benefits all [including] local communities in a diverse way."

News and Star: SETTING OFF: Protestors line-up before walking up Blaze FellSETTING OFF: Protestors line-up before walking up Blaze Fell

The site of the application is in Lazonby Parish but a mounting number of objectors are from Hesket and Ainstable parishes.

People from all three parishes attended and spoke at a Hesket meeting where Councillors David Scurrah and John Dowes spoke out against the development.

Cllr Scurrah said despite what the applicants’ 86-page visual impact document claims, the development would be seen from many parts of the surrounding area.

He said the objections from organisations like Friends of the Lake District and Cumbria Wildlife Trust as well as from individuals could not be ignored.

Cllr Dowes said it should not be on Blaze Fell, as it was 'completely out of character with the area'.

Three councillors, including the chairman Elaine Martin, abstained from voting, however she used her casting vote to support Lazonby’s objection.

Traffic concerns

Campaigners met Cumbria County Council recently to highlight their concerns over the increased traffic generated by the proposal which would be using an 'inadequate and potentially dangerous road infrastructure' as well as flooding issues.

The applicants’ estimate of the number of cars generated by the activity is at a day 256 - based on 32 vehicles per hour in one direction.

Organised by Belinda Quigley, who highlighted the 'severe impact in terms of road safety' of the proposed development, the meeting was also attended by Cumbria County Council member for highways Hilary Carrick, Cumbria County Council’s flood and development management officer Stuart Taylor and the county’s traffic management team lead for Eden district Laura Mcllellan.

Eden councillor David Ryland, from Armathwaite, said that there had been four fatalities recorded at the junction of the Armathwaite road and the A6 in the last 30 years. The villages of Armathwaite, Plumpton and High and Low Hesket feeding into the A6 had grown substantially with new housing developments and more were planned as they were 'local hubs'.

The people attending the meeting were given assurances that the traffic assessment being carried out by the county council as consultees of Eden District would be based on the A6 and all the local road networks.

Stuart Taylor said affordability of road improvements needed to be made was not an issue. On concerns about flooding from the site, he said a flood risk assessment would be required.

'Exciting project which ticks all green boxes'

Speaking to The Cumberland News, Daniel Holder, said he has joined forces with Michelin-starred hotelier and landowner, Charles Lowther, to seek planning permission for a luge track in woodland at Nord Vue Farm, Armathwaite.

In line with The Quiet Site’s eco credentials, this new visitor attraction will have a strong focus on sustainability. Mr Holder, who has been planning this venture for the past five years, said: “Fully sustainable attractions in the UK are thin on the ground but this one ticks all the green boxes.

"It will be carbon neutral, energy positive, community positive, ecology positive, zero waste, have no visual impact and little transport impact.”

"The development of a luge track in the UK is an exciting project," said Mr Holder. "It will be popular both locally and nationally with locals benefitting from initial complimentary and ongoing discounted rides.

"In addition, schools will be offered discounted visits for science classes engaging in subjects such as gravity, friction, kinetic and potential energy."