Ambitious plans to create an ‘adventure tourism experience’ at a Lake District quarry are set to be put forward, it has been learned.
Burlington Stone wants to turn the Elterwater quarry into a tourist attraction with high ropes courses and roller coasters. ‘Viewpoints’ around the quarry would allow non-participating members of the public to watch and learn the history of the site and the slate industry.
But, according to a district councilor in the area, the groundswell of public opinion is against the plans.
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“This part of the world is very busy,” said Cllr Malcolm Lamb. “It’s expanding in terms of infrastructure, roads, parking, and that’s only going to make this problem worse.”
The stone company, based in Kirkby-in-Furness, says it has ‘taken the decision to focus its quarrying on fewer quarries’ and that the tourist experience project is a way to preserve the site of Elterwater and its caverns underground.
“These experiences will provide guests with a fun way to appreciate and enjoy the environment, without having to alter or change the existing landscape,” a spokesperson said. “This will allow visitors to get a real sense of the quarry’s rich history dating back to the mid-19th century.”
The spokesperson said the ‘Cavern Coaster’ would be an ‘eco-friendly toboggan style’ ride that would take passengers through wooded areas and reclaimed quarry land, culminating in an underground section through the caverns .
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“The development will be primarily contained within the quarry void and caverns, complemented by sympathetic landscaping around the site,” he said.
The company also plans to create a new car park at the quarry to avoid putting additional pressure on the parking supply in the area.
“It is hoped that this facility can also alleviate existing problems in and around the village of Elterwater,” the company spokesperson said.
“As a company already operating in the Lake District National Park, we are aware of the long-standing traffic issues that exist, particularly during peak periods. We have started early discussions with key stakeholders to help us develop a sustainable transportation strategy. The shutdown of quarry operations will, in itself, remove vehicles – especially large utility vehicles – from the local road network.
Charging stations for electric vehicles and bicycle storage would also be set up on the site. Burlington Stone says its intention is to create “sustainable jobs for local people”. However, Cllr Lamb, who lives in Chapel Stile and is building a house in Elterwater, described it as a “complete mistake”.
He felt that the surrounding area did not have the number of people available to provide staff and that it was not an area in which staff members could afford to live. He said other companies had been forced to bring in workers from further afield. and expected that to happen with Elterwater Quarry.
“This project is anything but sustainable,” he said. “It will attract more tourists, which we already cannot cope with, to the detriment of the environment in this region.”
Burlington Stone says it is currently developing a career planning app for Elterwater and liaising with various organizations and local authorities.
A spokesperson for the charity Friends of the Lake District said: ‘We have already had an informal on-site discussion with Burlington and have highlighted some initial thoughts and potential areas of concern for them, including the generation and traffic management, how biodiversity and rights of way could be incorporated and, of course, how the proposal will fit into the landscape.