On the right track?


It’s good to hear that various statutory agencies are jumping around and paying attention following the publication of some photos here on Wednesday of the condition of a public right of way and a designated site.  Well done Bob Berzins for highlighting this issue and bringing it to the attention of those who ought to be aware of it already. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  Well, in this case Bob, but in general, all of us.

And this case jogged my memory of this other case, not that far away actually, to which rather a lot of us objected back in the spring. This was another track, and was a retrospective planning application. I phoned up the planning authority (that’s the PDNP) this morning to try to find out what happened in the end.  Well, actually, I first spent some time trying to find the case on the website and failed, so I made a call. I’m told that the application was invalid which sounded interesting, and they’ll get back to me about what the outcome was.

So this was an invalid retrospective application for permission for this:


and this:



So it was retrospective, and invalid…and so…presumably…the applicant had to do something about it…?

I wonder what.






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6 Replies to “On the right track?”

  1. I'm quite sure that the perpetrator, sorry, applicant, will have been required to make good the damage - so the track will have been removed and habitat fully restored. I'm sure NE et al. are aware of Article 6(2) of the Habitats Directive, as well as Article 6(3)........

  2. This failure to lodge a valid planning application should lead to enforcement action now given the time that has lapsed and the public interest in the unauthorised works. They are sticking two fingers up at the PDNP and that is not acceptable when the authority is acting for us, the public.

  3. It's been an interesting series of recent posts and comments on our Peak District moors, including a reply from Natural England.

    We need Natural England to be much tougher on those who damage SSSI moorlands, and not keep letting them off with warnings. Damage done during moorland restoration work is bad enough, but when it's private moorland owners taking the p*ss by somehow getting NE to approve track-building works (they call it ‘resurfacing’) on moorlands, paid for by the public purse, and then exceeding those permissions is worse. And even worse, still, is when someone in NE then decides that taking enforcement action against the landowner isn't justified because it will cause more habitat damage to put it right, without appreciating that some serious example-setting is needed for the greater good of all SSSI moorlands. I am referring here to a letter Moorland Vision has seen which was sent by Natural England's Area Manager to MP Nick Clegg about damage done by track-building on the Fitzwilliam estate/Strines in the Peak District, and paid for with HLS money as part of restoration scheme work. It contains two worrying statements:
    1) "The track... …shows resurfacing of a track that Natural England had permitted [by consent]. The work agreed to was repair of an existing route that had been in use before the SSSI was protected (i.e. not new), but where further use was leading to wider degradation of protected habitat. Unfortunately the actual delivery of the repair work did not meet the strict criteria for the protection of the special habitat in two respects: it was wider than was agreed, and the drain...was not agreed."
    2) "In response Natural England commenced formal enforcement action against the landowner. .. Although the track was wider than agreed Natural England has decided, after taking specialist [internal] advice, that to reduce the track would do more damage to the site which is not in the wider interest of habitat protection there."

    No enforcement on exceeding track width, then.

    So, is every old moorland track that has ever existed on any SSSI now potentially up for grabs for re-surfacing, and without need of planning permission? Do you simply drive a few vehicles (possibly full of grouse-shooters along them) and demonstrate they can't take the load, and then get NE permission to resurface it? Is it OK to make it wider than agreed?

    Can Natural England not see that it needs to show that any transgression on an SSSI needs to be enforced (even if it does cause some more local damage) for the greater good of all our English upland SSSIs, and to set an example to all moorland owners everywhere that abuses and infringements that scar our landscapes in this appalling way won't be tolerated - and that it will cost them to put it right if they do?

    Actually, NE probably does see. Talking to one Natural England staff member recently, he/she told me that they and their colleagues are alarmed at the lack of tough action in the Dark Peak. They hinted at suspicions of influence or undue pressure being put upon Teams not to take a tough stance on these infringements or applications for road-building/resurfacing.

    And talking to one senior Peak District National Park expert recently, it's clear they desperately want NE teams to be far more stringent on not giving unwarranted consents to work on Dark Peak SSSIs. The PDNPA is a planning authority; they want to be tougher on unwarranted work on moorlands, but they really can't do this if Natural England keeps saying to grouse moor owners "off you go chaps – you don’t need planning permission - get on with it - it'll be OK if you cock it up – we’ll not be too worried if you don’t do it properly".

    Well done Peak Park for wanting to take a tougher stance; come on Natural England - keep up please!

  4. How can't it be done, at the expense of whoever put the road in in the first place, without causing more damage. I don't care if the restoration bankrupts the landlord, they should have thought of that for themselves.

    1. Who can possibly dislike my comment. Landowners are subject to the same rules as everyone else, it's a free market economy (apparently) and if they don't like the responsibility of ownership there is nothing preventing them from selling their land to people who do.


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