31st January 2024

We have reviewed the new application, and submitted a response, which you can download in full here. 

YOU can help too, by contacting the Lake District National Park Authority...

  • Email the Planning Officer Catherine Campbell at [email protected]
  • Or write to Lake District National Park Authority, Murley Moss, Oxenholme Road, Kendal, LA9 7RL quoting the reference number 7/2023/5767
  • Responses submitted up until a decision is made will still be accepted. We do not expect a decision to be made until at least 6th March 2024.
  • Ensure you state that your comments relate to application reference number 7/2023/5767 

We've created a template that may help you make your own response. You can download it at the link below:

Elterwater Quarry Response Template (Word Doc)

Friends of the Lake District remains opposed to the revised scheme, and you can read our response to get the full details of our position. However it's worth noting one particular aspect of the submission written by our Planning Officer - about the inappropriateness of these kinds of attractions. Here's what she wrote...

It is not Friends of the Lake District’s view that this proposal in and of itself would constitute ‘a theme park’. It is our view however that by allowing developments of this type, the Lake District is at risk of being incrementally turned into something akin to a theme park. That is to say that the Lake District National Park and World Heritage Site itself will become but the theme and backdrop for a series of activities and attractions unrelated and unconnected to it or its special qualities and Outstanding Universal Values (OUVs).

When participating in this type of activity, one is not conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife or cultural heritage. Nor is one enjoying or understanding the special qualities and OUVs.

The enjoyment is focused on the activity itself in a way that it could be no matter the location, setting or theme. Zip World’s other sites by way of example include underground golf and underground trampolining. People will experience adrenaline rushes on a zip wire/high ropes course wherever it is located. Participants on a ropes and zip wires course are unlikely to pause to read interpretive panels and indeed they are encouraged to move on to avoid holding others up or resulting in too many people being on one platform or part of the course. They are unlikely to be paying significant attention to the intricacies of the quarry caverns or the connections between the quarry cavern and the cultural heritage and landscape of the area whilst they focus on placing their hands and feet in the right places, keep checks on whether they are clipped on properly and pluck up the courage to launch themselves off platforms against their instincts.

This is in clear contrast to those activities that do display the attributes appropriate for National Parks. National Parks are for everyone, but this does not mean that National Parks are obliged to provide all types of activity for all preferences and tastes, regardless of appropriateness or impacts. It means that activities that meet and further the National Park purposes should be available and accessible to those who wish to do them.

Activities such as fell walking/rambling, rock climbing, lake swimming, star gazing, wildlife watching and many more are dependent on and closely linked to, and involve immersion in and connection with, the special qualities and OUVs. The activity is therefore focused on interaction with the environment, rather than the focus being on an activity that merely takes place in an environment. The key difference then being that the environment-focused activities generate greater enjoyment and understanding of the special qualities and OUVs, and consequently an increased desire to protect these, furthering both the first and second purposes. Activities that are placed in, but unrelated to and devoid of any connection with the environment, do not achieve this.     

23rd January 2024

We have issues a press release today citing our concerns about this planning application and we are now inviting people to join us in writing to the Lake District National Park Authority to raise their concerns.

This is a National Park not a Theme Park!
Landscape charity Friends of the Lake District today announced that it will continue to oppose plans for a major visitor attraction at Elterwater Quarry, despite the changes the developer has made to the proposal. Plans for the ‘cavern explorer’ rope course and zip wires were re-submitted immediately before Christmas, after the initial proposal was rejected by the planning committee.

Quarry owners Burlington Slate Ltd are working with Zip World, who operate 23 zipwire courses across the UK, to develop the adventure attraction. There has been widespread opposition to the plan, including from ICOMOS (the International Council on Monuments and Sites), who are concerned that the proposal will damage aspects of the Lake District which underpin its status as a World Heritage Site. They’ve previously said the development is “…of a type that would transform the quarry or part of it into a theme park and would trivialise the experience of an important aspect of the Lake District’s heritage”.

Will you join us in standing up for Elterwater again?

We would urge anyone who has an interest in the Elterwater / Langdale area to take look at the plans and make their own views known. We will be making a written response and you can too. Click here to find out how>

90,000 people signed a petition against the pre-application proposal, which also included a ‘cavern coaster’. The proposal was refused by the planning committee largely due to the inadequacy of the travel plan (which describes how visitors are intended to get to the attraction). Friends of the Lake District’s position is that there is no justification for the adventure attraction, and that the new version of the proposal will still result in significant extra traffic through the already highly congested village of Elterwater.

The charity’s CEO Michael Hill said:

“Langdale is already one of England’s most iconic valleys, offering adventurous natural experiences and home to thriving businesses. There’s no evidence that Langdale will be enhanced by a major new attraction. The revised travel plan is entirely unrealistic. How many people are going to park 6 miles away, then get a mixture of boats, buses, and bikes to Elterwater? Everyone will end up driving there, adding even more congestion to the narrow roads in this remote community, harming tranquillity, and increasing carbon emissions. This is the wrong attraction, at the wrong time, in the wrong place”.

With another zipwire proposal also re-emerging at Honister slate mine, these applications raise further questions about what sort of visitor attractions are appropriate for the Lake District. Friends of the Lake District says many of its members feel that ‘theme park’ type plans are exploiting the area, rather than enhancing it or complementing its special qualities.

It’s thought that the revised Elterwater application will be considered at planning committee in March at the earliest. Friends of the Lake District says there’s growing local anger at the proposal and they’re urging people to submit their own response as soon as possible, using a special web page the charity has created. They’re also planning an event in the area ahead of the committee meeting.

12 January 2023

Just before Christmas, revised proposals were submitted for a visitor attraction at Elterwater Quarry.  We and many others objected to the original plans due to potential impacts on the character and tranquillity of the area,  World Heritage attributes and traffic.

The plans were refused by the Lake District National Park Authority’s planning committee, who were not satisfied by the transport arrangements for the site.  We remain opposed in principle to a major tourist attraction being established in a small remote community, which is already under huge visitor pressure.  On initial review of the revised Travel Plan, we remain unconvinced by the measures proposed to address traffic impacts and ensure access to the site by sustainable transport.

We will be submitting a response by the deadline of 31st January.  To view the application and respond, search for planning reference 7/2023/5767  here

6th September 2023

Elterwater Quarry Adventure Attraction Rejected

Proposals to build an adventure attraction in a former quarry at Elterwater in the Langdale Valley have been rejected by planners today, on grounds of traffic impacts.  

Landscape conservation charity Friends of the Lake District campaigned against the proposal, and their Planning Officer Lorayne Wall spoke at the planning meeting, along with Lakes Parish Council. 

As the Lake District is a World Heritage Site, ICOMOS (the International Council on Monuments and Sites, an advisory body to UNESCO) also voiced deep concerns about the proposal, including that it would transform part of the quarry into a theme park, and would likely disrupt the tranquil character of Langdale and trivialise its heritage. 

Over 90,000 people had signed an online petition against the development, which previously included a 'Cavern coaster’ ride, (subsequently removed from the planning application). 

Friends of the Lake District Planning Officer Lorayne Wall said:  ‘We’re very pleased that this application has been turned down today – Langdale is simply the wrong place for a visitor attraction of this type.  The narrow winding lanes around Elterwater just cannot cope with a large influx of cars, coaches and people, which will impact upon its character and tranquillity.’ 

29th August 2023

Some of you have been in touch seeking an update on the proposals for a tourism attraction at Elterwater Quarry. In July, documents were made available indicating the strong views of ICOMOS (the International Council on Monuments and Sites) and advising of their concerns about the impact of the plans on the World Heritage Site and stating that the proposal should not be progressed. The response of ICOMOS is not definitive but has to be factored into the decision by the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA). It is quite rare for ICOMOS to take the step of responding to a planning application and we had expected it to be given significant weight. However, we are disappointed to learn that the plans are being recommended for approval. We will continue to challenge this proposal and will speak at the planning committee meeting on September 6th.

27th February 2023

We have now submitted a written response to this planning application which you can read here:

Elterwater Quarry Planning Response 27th February 2023 720235012.pdf

Whilst we recognise the scaled-down nature of the proposals compared to the plans set out informally in 2022, we remain deeply concerned about several elements of this proposal. This includes the traffic, vehicle and visitor impacts on the tranquillity and rural character of the area, conflicts with net zero commitments set at national, Cumbrian and Lake District levels and the stated aims of the Lake District National Park Management Plan relating to sustainable travel. In particular, the need to significantly reduce use of the private car as a means of getting to, from and around the National Park. We also have concerns relating to several other aspects.

We therefore object to the proposed development. 

You can view the plans for Elterwater Quarry by searching for reference 7/2023/5012 the Lake District National Park's planning webpage. You can submit your own comments to the Planning Authority by emailing [email protected], quoting reference 7/2023/5012

31st January 2023

Reaction to Elterwater Quarry Plans

We recognise that plans for Elterwater Quarry have been scaled down, and no longer include an outdoor zip wire or ‘cavern coaster’ ride. The amount of car parking proposed on-site has also been reduced. However, we still have significant concerns, particularly about traffic and visitor numbers, but also other aspects such as biodiversity, future restoration of the site and a lack of information.

Thank you to those of you that have been in touch with your thoughts and copies of your own responses to the proposal. These will help us to formulate the collective response from Friends of the Lake District, which we will be preparing over the coming week or so. Our response will be posted on our website as soon as it is available.

You can view the plans by searching for reference 7/2023/5012 the Lake District National Park's planning webpage.

You can comment by emailing [email protected], quoting reference 7/2023/5012

Update 23rd January 2023

We have now undertaken an initial review of the planning application. The proposals represent a significant scaling down compared to those presented informally last year and they no longer include an outdoor zip wire or ‘cavern coaster’ ride. The amount of car parking proposed on-site has also been dramatically reduced. 

The proposals now comprise:

  • Continuation of some slate extraction/stone (re)working /processing
  • Scaled down parking area (35 visitor and 4 staff spaces, plus 3 coach spaces), with some landscaping to the northern boundary of the parking area
  • Bike storage area and e-bike charging points
  • Use of the underground caverns (where the ‘cavern coaster’ was proposed) for an ‘on-foot’ ‘cavern explorer’ experience entirely within the caverns
  • Use of the existing buildings, with some repairs and improvements, for activities such as slate working demonstrations, area for school/educational groups, small visitor centre etc.
  • “Limited food and beverage” provision
  • Small visitor centre
  • Outdoor area dedicated to heritage interpretation, including outdoor natural history trail
  • Retaining the existing PRoW route 

The proposal nevertheless still raises some important questions and concerns relating to:

  • The vehicle and visitor numbers to the site and the resulting impacts on the already busy local roads and existing parking issues, as well as tranquillity and local character.
  • The apparent lack of a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment and any detail regarding lighting
  • The indication in the application that the proposal will be exempt from the requirement to provide 10% biodiversity net gain.
  • The previous planning consent on the site for the “Formation of visitor attraction in association with the operation of a slate quarry” (7/2008/5604) and whether or not this remains valid.
  • The extent of the continuation of stone extraction at the site and how this and the current proposals relate to the earlier planning condition requiring them to restore the site once quarrying operations cease.
  • What potential expansion might be planned for the future and whether this would require further planning permission – proposals cannot be refused on the basis of what ‘might’ be planned at a later date, and objections on this basis will carry very limited, if any, weight. However, consideration does need to be given to whether anything further could happen without additional planning consent and whether this can be controlled, for example, through a planning condition.

A huge number of responses has already been submitted, however many of these make specific reference to objecting to theme park rides and / or zip wires, despite these no longer being part of the proposals. 

We would urge anyone who has an interest in the Elterwater / Langdale area to take look at the plans and make their views known. The deadline for responses that we have been advised of is 10th February.

We will make our response available here as soon as it is available.

You can view the plans by searching for reference 7/2023/5012 on the Lake District National Park's planning webpage.

Update 12 January 2023

We are aware that the Elterwater quarry application has now been submitted to the Lake District National Park Authority.
We need to assess its impact on the landscape of the Elterwater area before we can make a public statement about it.  

You can view the plans by searching for reference 7/2023/5012 on the Lake District National Park's planning webpage.

21 July 2022

Elterwater Quarry Update

Members and supporters continue to get in touch with us to let us know their views on the proposals for a Zip World development at Elterwater Quarry. Thank you again to everyone who has been in touch. Almost exclusively, views are focused on concerns about traffic impacts, impacts on local character, views, tranquillity and biodiversity and this is reflected by the fact that over 54,000 people have now signed ZipOff’s petition against the plans!

What you can do

A planning application has not yet been submitted to the National Park planning authority so we would ask that you refrain from contacting the National Park directly at this stage. You can still make your concerns heard and let Burlington Stone know that these plans are inappropriate at this location by taking any of the following actions:

You can help our specialist staff continue to challenge unsuitable developments like Elterwater Quarry by donating to our Planning for the Future Appeal.

We don’t know when to expect an application, but we will use all comments received to help inform our response. A really important factor in determining this case will be that the planning consent for Elterwater Quarry’s current operations is subject to a condition that the site be restored once operations cease, therefore the restored site is the baseline against which the Zip World proposals must be assessed. Another will be whether the proposal has the potential to constitute major development, which is only permitted in National Parks in exceptional circumstances, and where it can be demonstrated that the development is in the public interest. This includes consideration of whether it could have a significant adverse impact on the purposes for which the area has been designated.

View the Lake District National Park's Elterwater Quarry page

Note on Change.org:
Friends of the Lake District has no connection at all to Change.org, which is a for-profit business and one of several that hosts online petitions. It is the hosting site used by the local group that started the Zip Off Langdale petition. Change.org operates by asking people who sign any petition to ‘chip in’, which in turns funds the service they provide. This includes helping to share the petition to increase its reach but the money does not, to our knowledge, go direct to helping the individual cause in any other way. There is no obligation to contribute to Change.org and we have not, at any point, suggested anybody should do so.

Update 22 June 2022

We asked for your views on an ‘adventure tourism experience’ at Elterwater Quarry. This has been proposed by quarry operators Burlington Stone in partnership with Zip World.

Many of you have since been in touch (thank you!), and without exception have expressed deep concern about the plans, which involve a zip wire, ropes courses, an ‘alpine coaster toboggan-style ride and extensive car-parking. Over 30,000 people have also signed an online petition against the proposal. The main concerns raised to us are the traffic and the inappropriateness of this type of attraction in such a rural location near a small village in the Langdale valley, in the heart of the Lake District. Impacts on local character, tranquillity views from surrounding fells, biodiversity and public rights of way have also been highlighted. This type of proposal further adds to concern that our National Park remains very much at risk of becoming a theme park. Find out more, including how you can have your say here.

What you can do

No application has yet been submitted, but you can make your views known by:

• Sharing and replying to our Facebook and Twitter posts about the plans @FriendsofLakes https://twitter.com/FriendsofLakes https://www.facebook.com/FriendsoftheLakeDistrict
Signing the petition
• Writing to Burlington Stone themselves to let them know your views - https://elterwaterquarry.co.uk/contact/
• If you live locally, writing to Lakes Parish Council, your local Councillor and/or your local MP to let them know your views
• Letting us know your views if you have not done so already, as this will help to inform our response when a formal consultation takes place, email us: [email protected]
• Send us your images: We need images of Elterwater and the surrounding area so that can show people just what is at stake. Submit your images>

You can help our specialist staff continue to challenge unsuitable developments like Elterwater Quarry by donating to our Planning for the Future Appeal.

The main concerns among those against the plans are the traffic and the inappropriateness of a theme-park type attraction in such a rural location near a small village in the Langdale valley, in the heart of the Lake District.

Elterwater is popular as a location to visit in its own right and as a starting point for walks, so the village itself and the narrow, winding local lanes already suffer the impacts of high levels of traffic and parking problems, including on the surrounding Common Land (Common Land is one of the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value for which the Lake District was designated a World Heritage Site). While removing the currently relatively low levels of quarry traffic from the roads, this proposal would see a huge rise in private cars and coaches passing through the village to access the site. Local businesses in the valley already have to bring in staff from distant towns, due to the lack of a more local workforce, so this would add further to the traffic generated by the development.

Although the site itself is a brownfield site - a former quarry - there will be an impact on the landscape character and tranquillity of the area as a result of traffic increases and the nature and level of the activity. There will be an impact on views of the valley from surrounding fells (including open access land) and on the public right of way that currently runs through the quarry itself.

While people have been walking on the path through the quarry for many years, slate is nevertheless a natural feature of the landscape and the quarrying of it a centuries-old industry that has shaped the landscape and its communities. Walking through a modern visitor attraction with rides, assault courses, car parks and throngs of people would be a totally different experience and not one that people are usually looking for when they visit Langdale or any part of the National Park. Nor is it an appropriate way of giving an understanding of the hard work and riving hands of Lakeland’s quarrymen or their contribution to and connection with the landscape and local vernacular.

The scaling-back of quarrying operations in the Lake District is in line with the conditions made by ICOMOS (the International Council on Monuments and Sites) and UNESCO when the National Park was designated a World Heritage Site in 2017. However, planning consents given for Elterwater quarry as recently as 2021 were subject to a restoration condition, meaning that the operator was expected to carry out a restoration scheme to enhance the local landscape and wildlife habitats once quarrying at the site had ceased.  The restored site should be the baseline against which the proposal and its impacts are assessed.

The site is also adjacent to a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a County Wildlife Site and close to ancient woodland, so we are also concerned about impacts on biodiversity and the loss of opportunities to enhance it.

We continue to ensure that the Lake District is protected from developments that would damage its fabric, its character and its integrity. That it is loved but not exploited. That we and those who follow us can continue to enjoy it and can better understand it. This must surely be possible without also sacrificing it to commercialism. After all, it’s the landscape, in all its glory that’s the real attraction, isn’t it?

If you can, please help us continue to protect the Lake District from harmful developments. Donate to our Planning for the Future Appeal today.

30 March 2022

Plans are emerging for the significant redevelopment of Elterwater Quarry. Burlington Stone are proposing to develop an adventure tourism experience and interpretation facility at Elterwater Quarry.

We are glad to have been identified by Burlington Stone Ltd. as a specific consultee in relation to these proposals as this will help us to ensure that the landscape and natural environment and the views of our members and supporters are taken into account as the project moves forward. We have already had an informal discussion on-site with Burlington and have highlighted some initial thoughts and potential areas of concern to them, including traffic generation and management, how biodiversity and rights of way might be incorporated and of course, how the proposal will fit within the landscape.

We can expect a planning application in the coming months.

Read more about what the proposal might involve on www.elterwaterquarry.co.uk – we would be interested to hear your thoughts, email: [email protected]

Image credit: Burlington Stone.