Derbyshire's Butts Quarry owners withdraw appeal after ‘two years of struggle’ - leaving it ‘impossible’ to keep bike track running

The future of a family-run bike track in Ashover is in doubt after its owners withdrew their appeal against North East Derbyshire District Council.

Friday, 1st April 2022, 12:09 pm

Barry and Jenny Dring, the owners of the Butts Quarry bike track in Ashover, have withdrawn their appeal against an abatement notice by NEDDC.

The Drings said that they were unable to continue their legal fight after being advised that their original appeal was submitted a day late.

Jenny added: “After two years of struggle, fight and preparation and after 15 months of litigation, our appeal failed on the eve of the hearing. Our appeal did not fail because of a valuation of our evidence or the reasonableness of the council’s view, but on a technical argument raised by the council some 15 months after the appeal commenced and at the eleventh hour.

Barry and Jenny Dring (L) with other members of the team at Butts Quarry

“We had a noise management plan and agreement in place with the council, and they never suggested before this that we had ever gone against this. Our barrister told us that ordinarily, we’d have won, but said that the council had appointed a QC - something he’d never seen in his career.

“Our barrister said the QC would have been higher than the magistrates hearing our case, and he’d have told them to throw it out as the appeal was a day late. Even if they did hear the case, it would be taken to the High Court and if we lost, we would have to pay for everything. We’d be looking at £60,000, and we’ve spent £25,000 already.

“All this, bearing in mind, that we only got the abatement notice from the council two days before Christmas in 2020.

“Throughout this period the council have thrown every possible obstacle in our path to prevent the running of the activities at the quarry which were lawful and have gone on for decades.”

The council will now only permit the track to open on 14 occasions in a single year. Jenny said that this was likely to see the track - one of the oldest in the country - close its doors to riders.

She added: “To impose a restriction on the activities in the manner that they did was unreasonable and high-handed. It means it is impossible for us to provide the service that we have done so valuably, and which was so well-received by the community for many years.

“Not only have they deprived the biking community of this iconic, 60-year-old track, but they’ve closed down a business.

“Look at the state the country is in, and they’re closing down a business that brought money into the local pubs and shops in Ashover.”

Jenny said that the track was also hub for local families, and that the council’s decision would lead to an increase in anti-social biking and accidents.

“We’ve got working men that live locally to our tracks, they bring their bikes and their kids’ bikes in their vans. They often bring the rest of their families too, it’s a day out.

“Kids are going to hound their parents, saying they want to ride their bike, so they’re going to go somewhere illegal. There’s absolutely nowhere else within 30 miles of Butts Quarry for riders to go, unless they go to illegal places.

“What happens if a young lad falls - bearing in mind we have a medic on our site - because he’s riding where there’s no one around. Our licence holder is saying this will happen, and this is down to the council - it’s on their head.”

Jenny, however, said that they will continue the battle to keep Butts Quarry open for bikers, and encouraged people to contact NEDDC and express their concerns.

“We aren’t going away. We may even hold a rally down at Butts Quarry to show the council the massive response we’ve had. And it’s not just from riders, the people in Ashover village don’t want it shut.

“We’re never going to stop fighting until they realise what they’ve done. It doesn’t mean we’ll ever win, but we’ll never stop.

“We are looking for your support yet again and if anyone wants to write to NEDDC with regard to Butts Quarry we would very much appreciate it.”

An NEDDC spokesperson said: ‘‘The Council can confirm the appellants have withdrawn their appeal. The Council will work with the site owners to support compliance with the requirements of the notice.

“The notice requires the site to operate no more than 14 days per year, with a gap between events of at least 26 days to allow for two days of linked events to take place. The notice restricts events to no more than two bank holidays per year.

“Motorcycle activity is restricted between 10.00am and 3.00pm. There are also requirements on noise emissions from vehicles and noise testing on site.

“Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation we are unable to comment further at this time.”