Plastic track at Midhope Moor – updated
On Midhope Moor at the head of Mickleden Valley an unauthorised new track of plastic matting cuts a broad swathe of what looks like a garden lawn through the blanket bog and heather moorland.
Update – 30 Oct 2020
The Midhope Moor illegal track in place for 6years already could now be around for a lot longer. We were expecting the PDNPA, with huge public support, to defend its enforcement notice to remove the track at a public inquiry in December. However today the Authority agreed to accept an offer from the developer that would mean no public inquiry (and so no costs for either party), and would allow the track to be in position for use by vehicles for 28 months – the enforcement notice required the track to be removed within 12 months.
Certainty of track removal at the end of 28 months won the planning committee round – although who knows where we’ll be with the planning system by then. We spoke against this delay, along with others, as we believed that the Authority’s case was strong and could win the day at the inquiry.
However, the Authority has removed a crucial clause from the original agreement offered by the developer. This was an option, once the 28 months is through, to submit another planning application for a track which if refused could go for appeal again – clearly playing the long game. We wait to see if the developer will accept the Park’s revised offer – if not it’s back to the public inquiry in December.
It was refused retrospective planning permission two years ago by the National Park Authority which then issued an enforcement notice for its removal. The applicant appealed the notice and a public inquiry is to be heard in the late summer.
We have written in fill support of the enforcement notice. This track is unnecessary and harms what makes the National Park so special here – its relative wildness and freedom from human intrusions. The conservation work it was intended to facilitate is finished and any potential future restoration was still under discussion with Natural England at the time of the planning application.
Even if such future work is necessary it can be done using alternative techniques and access, as Moors for the Future has repeatedly shown when conserving thousands of hectares of blanket bog.
We are objecting to their appeal because this is an unauthorised development of a new 2m-wide plastic matting track which is more than 670mwith associated groundworks. Previously access that severely damaged the moor had been made along/alongside this route but there was no defined track. Retrospective planning permission was refused by the PDNPA planning committee on 15 June 2018 and an enforcement notice requiring the removal of all the materials used in the track’s construction was issued on 21 September 2018. The appeal appears based on the nullity of the notice and on negating the justification for the notice. We believe that the enforcement notice is not a nullity – it tells the recipient fairly what they have done wrong and what they must do to remedy it – and that it is justified. Therefore the appeal should be dismissed.