Councillors and company clash over Elterwater Quarry tourist attraction

COUNCILLORS and a major south Cumbria company have found themselves at loggerheads over the suggestion a quarry could be turned into a tourist attraction. 

The project at Elterwater Quarry – which is to feature a ‘Cavern Coaster’ and high ropes courses – has drawn criticism, with concerns expressed over its suitability in the national park as well as an increase in traffic.

But a spokesman for Holker Group, which owns Burlington Stone, the company behind the scheme, downplayed these elements, describing it as a ‘heritage attraction’ that would enable members of the public to learn more about the quarry and the slate industry.

Lakes parish councillor Jean Birkett said the roads around the quarry were not fit to cope with the extra vehicles.

“If they put a car park up there, fair enough,” she said.

“It’s not just the fact they are going to put a car park there, it’s the traffic coming up our narrow roads. 

“They are narrow enough and they are bad enough without all this extra traffic coming up.”

Fellow parish councillor Paul Martyn felt the scheme was not appropriate for the national park.

“It should be left to revert back to wild space,” he said. 

“People try to turn the Lake District into a theme park, and it’s not a theme park.

“Everybody wants to make money out of it and not have a feeling for what it’s about.”

Cllr Martyn questioned Holker Group’s assertion that the jobs at the quarry would be filled by people from the surrounding areas.

“Who are the local people that are going to take the jobs?” he said.

READ MORE: Ambitious plan for quarry to feature high ropes and rollercoaster

“The young people can’t afford to live in the area, that’s the basic fact of what’s going on in the Lake District at the moment.”

Holker Group has hit back, with a spokesman saying the attraction would be informative and ‘bring out the history of the Lake District stone-quarry industry’ and ‘how slate has influenced the vernacular’ of the national park. 

“We are keen to educate people with the history of this business that we have been in for over 200 years,” he said.

“It’s an immersive experience where people will move around the quarry void and quarry caverns.”

The spokesman said Holker was expecting around 60,000 people to attend the site during the first year and that the organisation was looking at employing around 60 staff. 

The company is, he said, committed to giving these jobs to local people and using local companies ‘as much as possible’ if the attraction were to be made a reality.

He said Holker was ‘actively looking at sustainable transport options’ but stressed that the plans for the site were merely ‘conceptual’ at this stage, with a planning application still in development.

 

 

 

 

The Westmorland Gazette | News