The 17-year legal battle over a quarry near Bakewell has ended in victory for campaigners who fought to protect the Peak District landscape.
The former Backdale quarry at Longstone Edge, a prominent limestone ridge between Calver and Bakewell, has been permanently saved from further mineral extraction.
Following a public inquiry in January this year, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has upheld the order made by the Peak District National Park Authority to prevent the quarrying of minerals or depositing mineral waste over an area of 138 hectares around Backdale and Wagers Flat.
Park chief executive Sarah Fowler said: “This brings to an end more than 17 years of complex planning work and legal action, and is absolutely the right decision. We are very pleased with the final outcome.
“Over the years it has involved thousands of hours of staff time and personal effort, a number of successful court cases, as well as the active support and backing from local communities, national environmental groups, MPs and the Government.”
Fowler paid tribute to community campaigners: “I’m particularly pleased for the local people who fought such a strong campaign to help protect the landscape and peace and tranquillity of this area.”
The battle started in 1999 when legal action began over excessive limestone extraction at the quarry, which was damaging the landscape.
The Friends of the Peak District and Save Longstone Edge groups joined the fight in 2003, and their efforts attracted huge public interest and support from a nationwide coalition of environmental groups.
Friends director Andy Tickle said: “We’re over the moon that, after years of hard work by the authority, the local community and ourselves, we can finally say the fight to save Longstone Edge is over.
“It really shows the power of partnership and persistence when we have to deal with a really tough planning issue. We just can’t thank everyone who helped enough.”
Following the Government’s decision, quarry owner Bleaklow Industries Limited will now have to restore the land in line with National Park recommendations.
The company will have to minimise risk from landslips and rockfall, and reduce its visual impact in the landscape and benefit ecology. The site contains rare shark bone fossils so restoration will need to be monitored by experts.
The Secretary of State’s decision ends planning permission for all mineral working at the site.