Elterwater Q & A
1. Why have you not completed a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment?
Because this development does not require an Environmental Impact Assessment, we are not required to complete a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment. We are however committed to improving the visuals of the site, including landscaping and screening where needed. More details of this can be found in our Soft Landscape Proposals, which can be viewed on the Lake District National Park Authority’s Website
2. What detail can you provide regarding how the site will be lit?
Lighting plans are most appropriately dealt with separately from the planning application. Detailed issues such as the control of lighting are typically dealt with through site specific detail as part of the discharge of the planning condition process. Therefore, any lighting proposed for the site will need separate approval from the planning authority, after the main application has been consented. This is a conventional approach to dealing with this issue.
3. Why are these proposals exempt from the requirement to provide 10% biodiversity net gain?
These proposals are exempt from the requirement to provide 10% biodiversity net gain because they are considered to have no demonstrable impact on biodiversity. This position was agreed with the Lake District National Park Authority in 2022. However, despite this exemption, we are committed to developing the site sensitively to protect its existing ecology and biodiversity. As parts of the site will remain a working quarry it will only be possible in the longer term to provide biodiversity more widely at the site as and when the permitted temporary quarrying operations cease.
4. Will the proposed visitor experience be run alongside the operation of the slate quarry?
Yes. Burlington Stone currently has permission to continue quarrying activity at the site until at least 2042. Stone extraction is therefore planned to continue on site until this time. This development has been designed to complement the existing quarrying activity and we plan to run the two side-by-side.
5. How do these proposals impact the planning condition requiring the site to be restored once quarrying operations cease?
Our intention is to only ever operate our proposed development side-by-side with quarrying operations. This means that the permission we hope to be granted by the Lake District National Park Authority would, in a similar way to our quarrying permissions, be temporary. When quarrying operations cease, the site will be restored in line with the relevant planning conditions in place at the time. This could mean that parts of the site are restored while others have by that point become the subject of more recent consents, superseding those that require site-wide restoration. In many senses, these current proposals serve as an advance on this restorative process by returning some areas to nature much sooner than would otherwise have been the case.
6. Will these proposals turn the Elterwater Quarry into a theme park?
No. The plans proposed by Burlington Stone and our partners are for a single, educational activity that will be almost fully enclosed within the previously unseen caverns. These plans outline the full extent of our intentions for the Langdale Valley. There are no plans to turn the Elterwater Quarry site into a theme park but instead to create a small scale, sensitive and sustainable development that focusses on the site’s unique heritage.
7. What is the current use of the Elterwater Quarry site?
Elterwater is currently home to a fully operational quarry which Burlington Stone has the rights to operate until at least 2042. Our new plans for the site would reduce the noise and visual impact of the existing quarry, as well as removing a significant percentage of the associated HGVs from the surrounding roads. Given that this site is currently man-made, our proposals ensure the long-term preservation of its heritage, alongside the renewal of biodiversity in the area.
8. Will this site add excess traffic and air pollution to the Elterwater area?
No. As a business already operating in the Lake District we are aware of the issues caused by excess traffic and air pollution. That’s why we’re committed to, wherever possible, ensuring that the Elterwater site can be easily and sustainably accessed by future visitors. We intend to install facilities for electric bike and car charging, as well as promoting sustainable transport links with our existing Brockhole site and other likeminded stakeholders.
9. How will we preserve the natural environment and biodiversity that makes the Lake District unique?
Our planned development will be almost fully enclosed within the caverns, as well as making use of existing buildings, keeping the look and feel of the site sympathetic to the natural landscape in which it’s set. Any changes to outdoor areas will be made sensitively, using local materials that respect the site’s industrial heritage. This will protect the site’s ecology and biodiversity, with medium term plans to preserve the beauty of the existing landscape by restoring and renewing habitats.
10. Will opportunities for walking and climbing in the area be preserved?
None of the existing footpaths and areas for climbing in the Langdale Valley will be negatively affected in any way by this development. Our focus is solely on improving the Elterwater Quarry site and our plans will actually see certain access improved, with a greater separation of pedestrian and vehicle areas than is currently the case. For example, we will provide safe access to previously inaccessible areas such as ‘The Quarryman’s Viewpoint’ and create a natural history trail to offer further opportunities for walking in the valley.
11. How many tourists will these plans bring to the area?
Our plans allow for 50,000 visitors per year to the Elterwater Quarry site, many of whom will be part of the existing 15.8 million visitors said to visit the area each year by the Lake District National Park Authority. In order to mitigate any impacts this may cause, we will promote sustainable travel to and from the site and enforce the booking of strict time slots so that our visitors are spread evenly across the day.
12. How big will the planned development be?
Our proposals encompass the entirety of the Elterwater Quarry site but do not extend beyond this site. Within the site itself, our proposed activity will be almost fully enclosed within the caverns, and will be separate to the ongoing quarrying operations. The look and feel of the whole site will be developed in a way that is sympathetic to the landscape and, as such, have an unintrusive visual impact.
13. What noise levels would be created by the proposed development?
Given that Elterwater Quarry is currently fully operational as a commercial quarry, our proposals will not increase noise levels associated with the site. In fact, the volume of HGVs that cause noise and traffic on surrounding roads will be reduced. The nature of our proposed activity is not dissimilar to others in the area, in that it is a form of quiet recreation with small numbers of people being on site at any one time, and spending the majority of their time on site within the caverns.
14. How will this development protect the value of the National Park in helping people’s mental health?
The improvements our plans propose for the Elterwater Quarry site will create a new space for reflection and mental wellbeing in the Langdale Valley, by shifting the site’s focus from just commercial quarrying to encouraging an appreciation for heritage and education.
15. How does this project tie in with the National Park’s objectives?
The core objectives of the Lake District National Park are to ‘promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the National Park by the public’ and ‘conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area’. We believe our proposals are wholly in keeping with both these priorities. We intend to promote the rich slate quarrying and mining heritage of the Langdale Valley, dating back to the 19th century, by focusing on the heritage of Elterwater and telling the stories of generations of quarrymen. Our plans also allow for natural beauty and wildlife to return to the quarry by protecting the site’s ecology and biodiversity.
16. How will the quarrying history of the site be preserved?
Since the 19th century, Elterwater Quarry has been worked by generations of local quarrymen. The valley is famous for its distinctive pale green stone, often enhanced by contrasting markings which emphasise its natural origin as a metamorphic volcanic stone. We recognise the importance of this history and want to both protect it and share it with future generations. Our proposals will allow us to do this by opening up previously unseen underground caverns and revealing unique educational vantage points to the public. We will also create a heritage trail, which will not only improve the accessibility of the site, but will also help to tell the story of the valley’s rich slate quarrying and mining history.
17. Will the development create local jobs?
Yes. There is significant scope for our development to trigger considerable local economic opportunities. Where possible, we will use local suppliers during construction and operations, the latter creating sustainable skilled jobs for local people. Zip World’s existing sites in North Wales added over £251million to the local economy between 2016-18, and 93% of their staff are employed from the local area. At Elterwater, the continued working of the quarry will ensure the site remains productive and supports its existing employment. Our proposed development will add 8-10 full time employment opportunities to support visitor activities year-round.
18. What will the visual impact of these proposals be?
Our proposals will improve the visual appearance of the existing site by renovating its infrastructure and using locally sourced materials to return other areas of the site to nature. Regarding the activity itself, this will be almost fully enclosed within the caverns, so will have minimal visual impact on the Langdale Valley.
19. What car parking provisions are being proposed?
The site will offer 35 visitor car parking spaces, including the addition of three new accessible spaces, and two coach spaces. As a company already active in the Lake District, we are aware of the difficulty of parking in the area so, as far as possible, we will encourage visitors to travel to site using either public transport or sustainable transport links with our Brockhole site. In order to mitigate the number of visitors on site and therefore the number of car parking spaces required at any one time, bookings will operate using time slots, allowing us to better manage visitor numbers.
20. Why does our planning application refer to a ‘ride’?
Our plans for the Elterwater Quarry site have evolved to ensure our proposals are sensitive to the local area, meet local planning policy and take account of the early feedback we’ve received. An earlier iteration of our informal plans did include a ride within the cavern and one reference to this ride was retained as an annotation on a single image we submitted as part of the planning application.
21. What is ‘The Cavern Explorer’?
‘The Cavern Explorer’ is the activity we intend to develop within the previously unseen caverns. Our proposals will allow safe and supervised access to these areas, using two caverns that are accessible from existing pathways from the car park through the woodland. The activity itself will involve navigating along a bespoke system of connected platforms through the caverns which are currently inaccessible to the public and have been exhausted as a mineral resource.