3rd November 2021 UPDATE

A Development Control Committee meeting took place on Wednesday 3rd November where it was decided that the Ullock Moss Car Park application would be deferred to enable the Committee to carry out a site visit before coming to its decision.

Whilst we will now have to wait for the outcome of the Ullock Moss application, we were able to welcome a decision at the meeting by the Lake District National Park Authority to refuse two other proposals to extend the time period of two temporary car parks.

Applications for new car parks at Waterfoot (next to Ullswater) and Lands Field (Coniston) were refused, due to concerns about impact on the landscape, conflicts with recently adopted planning policies, and the potential precedent for more similar proposals for car parks elsewhere in the national park.

27th October 2021

A Statement by Friends of the Lake District, with Campaign for National Parks, National Trust, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Woodland Trust, West Cumbria Bus Users and West Cumbria Friends of the Earth.

Friends of the Lake District and other leading environmental organisations are very concerned by the recommendation to approve the proposed 150-space car park at Ullock Moss near Catbells.

This development would set a precedent that would have a major bearing on the wider future of the Lake District, what it will look like and what it will become – and other National Parks - and we urge the Lake District National Park Authority’s (LDNPA) Development Control Committee to reject this proposal.

Whilst we very much recognise the need to address ongoing and growing issues relating to parking and vehicle numbers in the Portinscale and Catbells area, this proposal is not an appropriate solution.

We agree with Campaign for National Parks and the National Trust that the plan raises fundamental policy conflicts in regard to development in the open countryside and the development of new car parks. Local planning policy calls for a ‘coordinated and strategic approach’ to decision making about transport. This proposal directly conflicts with this sentiment and is not part of an integrated plan that will enable sustainable travel.

We also share the views of groups such as West Cumbria Bus Users and West Cumbria Friends of the Earth that it undermines the LDNPA’s own target to reduce, as a minimum, the % visitors arriving by car from 83% to 64% and to secure a modal shift towards more sustainable transport in the Park. Instead it will increase traffic to the area, harm the landscape and conflict with the Park’s own climate and ecological commitments.

Lorayne Wall, Planning Officer, Friends of the Lake District said:

“Allowing a new car park in this location threatens to set back plans for sustainable travel and a low-carbon Lake District before they even get started. We are simply asking that the Park adheres to its own plans and policies and implements them.”

The Campaign for National Parks has raised concerns that allowing a permanent car park in this location will make it harder to persuade people to use alternatives to the car in future and will set a dangerous precedent.

Ruth Bradshaw, Policy and Research Manager for Campaign for National Parks, said:

"Campaign for National Parks remains strongly opposed to plans for a new car park in open countryside in an already very popular area. Allowing a new car park here will facilitate yet more car use and will do nothing to encourage more sustainable travel. It is in direct conflict with the National Park Authority's ambitions to reduce car use to help meet its net zero target. It also sets a dangerous precedent for other similar developments both elsewhere in the Lake District and in other National Parks. Given the urgency of the nature and climate emergencies, it is even more essential than ever that National Park Authority members consider the longer-term impacts of the decisions they make."

Notwithstanding the wider implications, Friends of the Lake District also shares the concerns of Cumbria Wildlife Trust and the Woodland Trust about the immediate area. There would be significant harm to the area’s hydrology and to woodland that is of high ecological value and home to priority species protected under the NERC Act. The obligation for the applicant to demonstrate that their proposals would not adversely impact ancient woodland through increased pollution has not been met.

With the decision on 3rd November coinciding with the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), it is an opportunity for the LDNPA to demonstrate its conviction in tackling climate change in line with the recent comments of its own Chief Executive:

*“Our knowledge and expertise mean we are uniquely placed to lead on addressing the climate crisis….National Parks [are] at the centre of reducing emissions…and delivering ecological resilience.

*“If we can inspire even a small percentage of our visitors to think about some of their lifestyle choices while they are enjoying the benefits of being in our amazing landscape it will make a difference”. 

The LDNPA’s own targets and ambitions in reducing car travel, in tackling climate change and in ecological recovery are laudable, but this proposal clearly conflicts with these. We therefore urge the Park’s Development Control Committee to support this ambition and refuse this application.

*Press Release: UK’s 15 National Parks Release Joint Statement on Climate Change in lead up to COP 26 - National Parks