To: Lake District National Park Authority, Kendal
STOP TARMAC ON KESWICK RAILWAY PATH
In Dec. 2015 Storm Desmond caused a lot of damage to this popular footpath. In September 2018 the LDNPA passed their major plans for restoration of this 'traffic-free' 'Multiuser Trail' (MUT) 7/2018/2116, alarmingly also intending to resurface the 4-5 mile length with totally inappropriate lethal tarmac where the original path sufficed for decades! See path user comments on: Old Railway Walk -review of Keswick railway Path - Trip Advisor, for suitability for all users! People love the 'People's Path' natural, quiet woodland environment, a special place that will be lost where educational walks are sometimes led. From 27/8/19 the whole length is now closed for 12 months!
Please do not do this! it must not happen, there is huge opposition. A 'former transport route' is no reason to destroy the heritage value that lies in the old trackbed. The railway did not run on tarmac. (NPA - See our letter dated December 2018 from the Government.) It was never an issue before Desmond. There is absolutely NO need. Besides, transport = traffic and the multi-user trail (MUT) is to be 'traffic-free'. So, NO TARMAC!
Repair the path and bridges where necessary, this path on the Historic Environment Record will re-open much sooner bringing benefit to the local economy. We have corresponded for 12 months, now, helped by the Friends of the Lake District and Cumbria Bridleways Society and many others. Keswick Town Council has joined the protest. We have met the Cumbria Wildlife Trust's CEO. You know National Park status is supposed to provide the highest level of legal protection and since 2017 it has been a World Heritage Site, partly because of the history of the conservation movement that began here. Unesco said the LDNPA should pay more attention to conservation. They also say planners often need educating about the meaning of World Heritage Site status! Recently the World Heritage Watch committee in Berlin said they had contacted the UK government. We ask why the UK Government has ignored us? Also other organisations recommended?
You know the Keswick to Threlkeld railway path: designated a County Wildlife Site is a protected environment where in the planning system the LDNP has a duty to conserve biodiversity, it is not their job to annihilate. This is dereliction of duty. UK Government's Biodiversity Strategy for England and Wales 2020 refers. UNO Decade of Biodiversity 2020.
Why is this important?
The Cumbria Wildlife Trust explains these sites have considerable nature conservation value in natural heritage for habitats and species of national importance. The LDNPA played a role when the CWS panel established the selection guidelines and will possess the landowner's leaflet! NB -
Other associated plans went before the LDNPA this August, both including resurfacing: 7/2019/2165 and 7/2019/2188, and 7/2019/2190, a major tarmac plan. There were 26 letters of objection to 19/2165 including Keswick Town Council's.
Compare with 7/2019/2178 announced on 23/8/19: terrestrial and aquatic species, European Protected Species -that need a licence - and the laws covering them! Biosecurity measures.
The contrast is incredible, by the same authority! They are seriously threatened.
You can make your views known on [email protected] quoting planning ref. nos.
The laying of tarmac or any hard surface means it will literally be a case of life or death. Associated plan ref. 7/2019/2017 admits wildlife could be injured or killed! Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Forestry Act 1967 and Charter for Trees 2017 - over 1,300 lost, red squirrel woodland, more to follow as the project advances, another 74 in 2189,.
The photograph shows the countryside where the railway path is hidden in the deep Greta gorge indicated by the line of trees crossing from east to west, just discernible! Keswick is not far to the west. Study 7/2019/2189 and gasp at the actual process of path 'construction' along this 4-mile length!
On Wed., 2/10/19 Keswick Town Council is meeting the LDNPA, originally to discuss tarmac proposals, but CEO Richard Leafe has told them that instead, LDNPA intends to tell them how it will be done! See below for the Sandford Principle. We consider they consider they are contravening their legal environment remit ie it is illegal, and without justification.
The footpath lies at the bottom of the deep, steep-sided narrow gorge of the River Greta, for miles barely discernible from the A66 above, and tributary to the Derwent catchment area part of the National Trust's Riverlands project that could be compromised. Embodied in the 1995 Environment Act, ie law, their duty under the Sandford Principle is to give priority to the environment where there is a conflict with public interest. This is what they say they will do on their Unesco nomination form.
As an optional 4-5 mile section of the long Coast 2 Coast (C2C) route only since the 1990s, cyclists' interests should not take priority over other users .This is not a road, but primarily a decades-old footpath where cyclists are allowed and not vice versa and aren't cyclists a type of traffic? Resurfacing plans now give them priority, cycle track standard. Isn't this dangerous on a Multiuser Trail with increased accident risk?
The LDNPA also has a duty to honour their commitment to the 2 Partnerships of which they are a member: the Cumbria wildlife Sites and the Derwent and South West Catchment Area. The John Muir Trust has a 'Keep it wild' policy that would equally apply here!
Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers addressed the recent UK National Parks Conference by video link, saying that at the core of government policy is "nature recovery and protecting biodiversity" - a LDNPA delegate would have been there.
The UK is already one of the most nature-depleted countries, hence the Government's 25-year Environment Plan and 'biodiversity net gain' - it can only lose with these plans.
Nor do they comply with their NP second role of helping mitigate climate change, very high priority now, from government, the Cumbria County and Keswick Town Councils. 2 years of vehicle and machinery movement in that confined space and outside Keswick, plus tarmac fumes in the gorge and from Keswick station itself passing through residential areas.
How it will be delivered
By hand to the LDNPA offices, Kendal, Cumbria. The first 1600 were emailed on 24/7/19, the petition remains open. Only one acknowledgement! However:
Tuesday 1/10/19, a petition of nearly 2,800 was emailed to the Authority's offices and on Wednesday, 2/10/19 241 signatures on paper will be handed to officers after the meeting with the Keswick Town Council at the new Northern Depot in Threlkeld Quarry, outside Keswick. The media and local press have been informed.
The petition will continue.