21st February 2018

National Park publishes Thirlmere Activity Hub report

Following a Freedom of Information request by Friends of the Lake District, the Lake District National Park has just published their Planning Officer’s draft report on the Thirlmere Activity Hub application, which would have gone to the planning committee if the applicant had not withdrawn the application yesterday. You can read it here

(and see the entire application here)

The report shows that the Planning Officers would have recommended the application for REFUSAL on grounds of harm to the landscape.

The Lake District National Park Planning Team has heeded us, and everyone else who objected, and importantly has recognised the significance of our National Parks and the planning process in place that protects these special and valuable landscapes.

Their response to this application is not only a victory for Thirlmere, but for the Lake District National Park and all our National Parks.

20th February 2018

Thirlmere Zipwire plans WITHDRAWN

We've just received confirmation that the 'Thirlmere Activity Hub' planning application has been withdrawn.

The Lake District National Park Authority had been due to discuss the application early next month but today, Mike Turner, managing director of Treetop Trek, has said that the plans had been withdrawn.

We understand from press reports that Mike Turner, managing director of Treetop Trek Ltd has withdrawn the application because of the objection lodged by the Ministry of Defence and the fact that any resolution of this would be unlikely between now and the date of the planning committee hearing on March 7th.

We'll update you when we have more information....

12th January 2018

LDNPA Development Management Update:

Thirlmere zip wire application to be decided on March 7th.

The Lake District National Park has had 3,476 letters and emails of objection, a petition of 13,535 objecting, and only 163 letters and emails in favour.

Thank you to everyone that took the time to write and engage with the planning authority.

21st December 2017

We have responded to the application for the Thirlmere Activity Hub, you can see a copy of our response here

The deadline for comments has been extended to 12th January because the Lake District National Park Authority has received additional information about the application.

24th November 2017

A planning application has now been submitted and is available for viewing on the planning authority website at this link: http://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/swiftlg/apas/run/WPHAPPDETAIL.DisplayUrl?theApnID=7/2017/2298

We have published our initial assessment of this application together with instructions for writing your own response to the planning authority to voice any concerns you may have. The deadline for submissions is 2nd January 2018. Please visit the Thirlmere Activity Hub section of our website for more information.

23rd November 2017

Statement Tree Top Trek’s claim in their Consultation Report in their planning application - 7/2017/2298

In the consultation report the applicant, claims that Friends of the Lake District previously supported Thirlmere as a suitable location for zip wire development. The applicant has also chosen to oversimplify the summary of our discussions on 27th July.

We would like to clarify this issue. Friends of the Lake District were approached by Mike Turner of Tree Top Trek nearly 3 years ago and asked for an opinion on where in the Lake District a zip wire proposal would be acceptable. Our representative at that time answered that any zip wire proposal should be outwith the Lake District National Park. During this discussion we stated, as we always have, that zip wire development and similar assault course type activities are best accommodated in forest settings such as Go Ape located in Grizedale where there is the capacity to contain the impacts.

During this discussion Thirlmere was brought up as an area to look at due to the plantations but at no point did Friends of The Lake District endorse this as a suitable location and we certainly would never have endorsed zip wires across the lake. Furthermore, the applicant did not seek any further discussions on developing their proposalwith Friends of the Lake District until the current scheme was unveiled on 27th July 2017.

 For Tree Top Trek to claim that Friends of the Lake District in any way suggested or endorsed Thirlmere as a location for this proposal is wholly inaccurate. Friends of the Lake District has not been party to any discussions in the development of this particular proposal nor have we ever suggested that zip wire development would be appropriate in this location.

Mr Turner has chosen to be selective in disseminating information regarding his discussions with us 3 years ago and did not follow up these discussions in the development of his proposal.  If he had done, we would categorically have stated that the proposal is unsuitable for this site.

14th November 2017

We understand that a Planning Application has now been submitted by TreeTop Trek for the ‘Thirlmere Activity Hub’ to include multiple zip wires across Thirlmere with the lines stretching from one side of the lake to the other.

As soon as the plans are processed and accessible we will be providing our initial assessment, details about what actions you can take, how to compose a letter to the Lake District National Park (the planning authority), your local MP’s contact information and press contact information so that you are able to share any concerns that you may have.

24th October 2017 

We were recently informed about an inaccurate statement referring to Friends of the Lake District on the Thirlmere Activity Hub Facebook page posted by a third party on 11th October. The statement reads: 

“Its great to hear that Friends of the Lake District have worked constructively to suggest to the promoters that Thirlmere should be considered as a suitable location. For once I agree with then and cannot think of a better place within the LDNP for a 1km+ zip wire facility.”

We contacted TreeTop Trek on 18th October to inform them of the inaccuracy of this statement, asking them to remove it from the post. Our request was refused by TreeTop Trek so we made the following direct comment underneath the Facebook post on the Thirlmere Activity Hub Facebook page asking the third party responsible for the post to remove the statement.

Dear ***,

We can only assume that you have been misinformed and we would appreciate knowing where this information was sourced as we are obviously keen that all comment – in support of or against - potential planning applications is fair and accurate.

We are disappointed that TreeTop Trek has expressed little concern at the inaccuracies in your statement about our organisation despite our drawing its attention to them. We hope that you take our concerns more seriously as publishing false or inaccurate comment does little to enhance the credibility of what is obviously a well constructed argument on your part.

The following section of your statement is untrue and we formally request that you edit this post and remove this comment as a matter of urgency.

“Its great to hear that Friends of the Lake District have worked constructively to suggest to the promoters that Thirlmere should be considered as a suitable location. For once I agree with then and cannot think of a better place within the LDNP for a 1km+ zip wire facility.”

We welcome accurate and fair comment and recognise that informed debate is a necessary component of any potential planning project, but misinformation is damaging for all concerned.

Full details of all of our public comments to date on this proposal can be accessed via the planning section of our website. We’ve also included information about how to engage with the planning process to ensure that your opinion is heard if and when a formal application is submitted to the planning authority.


As an organisation, and with respect to planning applicants, we deem it reasonable to wait for a formal application to be submitted so that we are able to read and make a considered response in a fair and professional manner.

If and when the applicant submits a formal planning application we will be providing our Members and the wider general public with information on the key issues and how to engage in the planning system to ensure that their views are heard and considered by the Lake District National Park Authority.

This comment was subsequently deleted by TreeTop Trek from its Thirlmere Activity Hub Facebook feed. This has necessitated us publishing this clarification on our own Facebook page and on own website to draw attention to the inaccuracy of this statement. We have a policy of commenting on planning applications only when they are formally submitted but we will of course correct inaccurate information posted about our organisation where it appears in the public domain.

20th October

We are aware that Tree Top Trek has recently released a visual impression of the proposed zip wires at Thirlmere.

As we have previously indicated it is likely that the zipwires themselves will have a limited visual impact. However, when in use the visual impacts will increase in severity. It is our understanding that the planning application will be accompanied by a landscape and visual impact assessment which we will assess fully when available.

Furthermore, it should be noted that the visual impact only forms part of our concerns regarding this proposal. We consider that the proposal would have a detrimental impact on the landscape character and tranquillity of the Thirlmere Valley and, as such, would conflict with the purposes of the National Park.

Although we do not know exactly when the application will be submitted we believe it is imminent and will provide further details as soon as we are able to.

11th October

Thank you to all who have contacted us expressing concern and supporting our position regarding this proposal. We expect an application to be submitted by the end of October. We will be contacting members with details as soon as the application is valid and open for representations.

6th September

Following on from our meeting on site with Treetop Trek and attending the public session on 31st August we have had a number of interested parties and organisations contact us.

Our Planning Officer, Laura Fiske, attended The Lakes Area meeting of the British Mountaineering Council on 6th September to convey our concerns regarding the detrimental impacts of the zip wire proposal. The Applicant, Mike Turner, of Treetop Trek also attended and this resulted in an open and healthy debate.

Our position on the proposed zip wire remains unchanged. We do not consider that proposal would positively contribute to the purposes of the National Park as set out in The Environment Act 1995. These purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage
  • Promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of national parks by the public

Some may argue that the proposal could be an opportunity for the promotion and enjoyment of the National Park. However, given the level of detrimental impact this proposal could have on the landscape character visual amenity and tranquillity of the Thirlmere Valley we consider that at the very least it would create conflict between these two purposes. 

The Sandford Principle, as revised in The Environment Act 1995, is clear in stating:

"If it appears that there is a conflict between those purposes, [the National Park Authority] shall attach greater weight to the purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area".

Furthermore, we remain concerned regarding the precedent that this proposal would set for further inappropriate development in the Thirlmere Valley and the wider Lake District. Whilst the proposal currently being discussed does not include ancillary commercial development related to the zip wire or cycle route we are concerned that this will follow. We believe that National Parks are for everyone not just those who can afford to pay for ‘an experience’. The world class landscapes that warrant the designation as a National Park and World Heritage Site provide many free and wonderful experiences to be enjoyed in different ways.

As the proposal has not yet been submitted we will continue to liaise with interested parties and organisations as well as updating our Members if any new information arises.

The applicant has given an indication that the target for submitting the application is ‘Autumn’. Once submitted we will be providing Members with information on the key issues and how to engage in the planning system to ensure that their views are heard and considered by the Lake District National Park Authority.

31st August 2017

Treetop Trek, who have unveiled proposals for what has been termed a ‘Thirlmere Activity Hub’ comprising of an 18km family friendly cycleway and two zip wires across Thirlmere met with locals this afternoon at a consultation event held at Swirls Car Park. The event was attended by our Planning Officer Laura Fiske and Chief Executive Douglas Chalmers.

14th August 2017

Email sent with an update on this proposal and our position to - membership, partners and contacts. You can read the full text of our update by clicking this link

27th July 2017

We recently met with Cumbrian company Treetop Trek to discuss their proposals for what has been termed a ‘Thirlmere Activity Hub’ comprising of an 18km family friendly cycleway and two zip wires across Thirlmere.

The company has launched its plans for consultation prior to submitting a planning application to the Lake District National Park Authority.

Whilst we have not yet seen a detailed planning application for the proposal (nor has it been submitted to the LDNPA) we are concerned regarding the impacts of this proposal.

In terms of the cycle way element of the development we consider that this could be a positive development provided it is designed sensitively. This could provide a safe and enjoyable means of accessing the Lake District sustainably. Furthermore the creation of this cycleway could encourage more people to cycle as a way of accessing and enjoying the outdoors and the associated positive impacts on physical and mental health and wellbeing.

However, the siting of the two zip wires East-West across Thirlmere we consider to be wholly inappropriate in this location and, from what we have seen so far, we would object to this element of the proposal.

Although the structure itself may have a minimal impact we consider that whilst in use the proposal would cause significant detrimental impacts to the landscape character and diminish the tranquillity the Thirlmere valley possesses away from the A591. We are also concerned regarding the management of visitor numbers, increasing traffic and the provision of adequate parking for commercial development in this area of the National Park.

National Parks are for everyone to enjoy not just those who can afford to participate in adventure experiences. A commercial development of this type in this prominent location could potentially have a significant impact on the features people visit the Lake District to enjoy – the landscapes, the tranquillity, the heritage.

Furthermore, we must now also consider the Lake District’s newly bestowed status as a World Heritage site. The Thirlmere Valley makes an important contribution to the Lake District’s Outstanding Universal Value – the reasons for being awarded the status. This is especially true of the Valley’s association with the early conservation movement. 

Thirlmere, and the resistance to the desire to create a reservoir to service Manchester in the 1870’s was a seminal moment in the history of the conservation movement and landscape protection in the UK and beyond. This battle brought in to focus the fact that landscapes matter to everyone, not just those who own land; it highlighted the incredible natural resources of the Lake District but also its vulnerability and sensitivity.

This proposal once again brings these issues in to focus albeit in a thoroughly modern context.
Further information can be found on the company’s website www.treetoptrek.co.uk/Thirlmere  where you can also submit feedback to the developer during this consultation phase prior to submission of a planning application.

The developer will also be holding a drop in session for the public on August 1st 2017 from 3pm -7pm at Thirlmere Recreational Hall. We would urge any members who are interested and who can attend to do so as this will be a good opportunity to see the plans in a greater level of detail and give your feedback to the developers.

We would stress that this application has not yet been submitted to the Lake District National Park Authority. We will ensure that you are kept updated on the progression of this application.