PROTESTORS marched up Blaze Fell to express their opposition to controversial luge plans, a current planning application they have labelled an act of 'rural vandalism'. 

The demonstration follows after plans were lodged with the council for an 850m luge track, operations facility with cafe, car park, and an accompanied chairlift near Armathwaite back in 2021. 

The plans were originally put forward by Michelin-starred hotelier and landowner Charles Lowther and Daniel Holder, owner of Cumbria’s award-winning eco holiday park, The Quiet Site. 

The group, aged from nine to ninety, aimed to showcase their opposition coinciding with the final decision meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee on March 20 -  however, the decision has since been delayed.

Looking to draw attention to the scale of the project, protestors, with the help of drone footage, documented the size of the parking lot associated building included within the plans. 

News and Star: Protestors demonstrate plan perimetersProtestors demonstrate plan perimeters (Image: Supplied)

Protestors voiced concerns about the impracticality of the development's location - its distance from existing infrastructure and lack of tree coverage whilst indicating that the hill wasn't steep enough for a luge track and feared the development could extend beyond the current proposal.

Developers have argued that the proposed attraction, set to be 'Europe's first gravity-fuelled downhill luge track', will bring economic gains to the community without negatively impacting the environment, citing 'carbon neutrality' and the introduction of '2,000 new trees' and habitats for wildlife. 

Before the march, organiser and Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate Julia Aglionby questioned the compatibility of the project with the local environment. 

News and Star: Protestors march on Blaze Fell Protestors march on Blaze Fell (Image: Supplied)

"The first principle of the Local Plan requires Development to be sympathetic to its surroundings and fit in with the local landscape and architecture," she said. 

"I have 3 questions for you.

"Do you think a car park for 100 cars and several coaches on the fell is ‘sympathetic’ to its remote surroundings?

"Do you think a huge glass-fronted café fits in with the local landscape?

"Do you think this luge proposal prizes and protects our rural communities?

"I qualified as a chartered surveyor 23 years ago and have been involved in many developments.

"I am for a thriving rural economy but like you I answer no, no and no to these three questions."

In response to the protest, Mr Holder said: "This is a good thing for the UK and a great thing for Cumbria.  

"The embedded carbon footprint of the track is less than one person flying to New York for each year of operation.  

"The operational carbon footprint will be zero – possibly the first attraction in the UK to achieve this.  

"We recognise that to operate truly as a carbon-zero business we have to encourage our perspective guests out of their cars and onto public transport.  

"This is very much part of the vision of this project. The improved public transport options will naturally be available to the local community.

"Nature England says biodiversity will be improved with this project- which we agree with," he said. 

The developers also maintain that their project will drive employment and support the local economy, backing up their claim with the proposed creation of 20 to 30 'high-paying' jobs.