A CONTROVERSIAL planning application for the 'first ever' luge track in Europe has faced opposition from a campaign group aiming to stop the application going forward - as the proposers behind the project say that the luge will be ‘a world class attraction’ for the county.

A public petition with more than 1,350 signatures was presented to Westmorland and Furness Council at the first meeting of the new council's Eden locality board during a meeting held at Penrith Town Hall on Tuesday.

However, the joint proposers of the project believe that the possibility of the luge is something that the majority of local people are supportive of.

The planning application was originally put forward in 2021 for land at Blaze Fell, Nord Vue, Armathwaite, with plans seeking to accommodate an 'outdoor recreational woodland-luge track', chairlift with ancillary operations building, car-parking and landscaping.

The group opposing the development of the Blaze Fell luge track said: “It can see no way in which this development can be considered anything but an act of rural vandalism.”

The petition points to the use of 'tonnes' of 'unsustainable' concrete with a 'huge carbon footprint', the 'innate' noise and air pollution of the site, and accidents associated with the attraction placing a 'burden' on local ambulance services.

"A similar luge track in New Zealand saw a considerable increase in emergency attendances,” they said.

The protesters also claimed it would be 'imprudent and hypocritical' of the council to approve the plans having declared a 'Climate and Ecological Emergency' in July 2019, referring to the declaration made by Eden Council.

But Daniel Holder and Charles Lowther, the joint proposers of this project, said: “Cumbria could be home to Europe's first gravity-powered, downhill luge track which will offer a unique experience and attract new audiences to the local area, helping to attract and disperse tourism throughout Cumbria.

"The original luge experience was established in New Zealand in 1985 and others can now be found in a growing number of locations across the world.

"This Cumbrian luge track would be the first in Europe.

“We understand that with any new proposal, especially one that proposes a brand-new idea, there will be local scrutiny. As well as those who are objecting there is many who support the idea and want to see this project succeed.

“We are part of this community, sensitive to any potential impact, and as such have engaged with the local community to understand their concerns and mitigate any perceived impact. The site will not generate increased noise levels.

“Traffic will not be noticeably increased in Armathwaite and the locality. The slight visual impact observed only from far distance will be lessened as the existing woodland naturally matures in height. This hillside is already home to numerous large high voltage pylons and a disused quarry.

“If planning permission is granted, Cumbria will gain a world class attraction which will operate as a truly carbon neutral business.

"It will improve biodiversity, drive employment, support local business and be a real asset to the Cumbrian economy and its local community.”

The Cumberland News understands that the luge will be decided upon at a strategic planning meeting in July this year, although this has not yet been confirmed.