Save Cressbrook Dale


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The Campaign to Save Cressbrook Dale

The integrity and tranquility of our much-loved Derbyshire valley is being threatened by the activities of new land owners. They seek to alter the landscape here in a manner that is completely at odds with its nature and in a completely unsustainable manner. In doing so they will destroy an irreplaceable and unique landscape that has taken hundreds of years to establish itself. In wrecking the land they also threaten the well-being of the communities that surround and enjoy this incredible landscape.

The group have published several prospectuses in seeking new 'investors' to help them pay for more of the land in the dale. Each version sees the 'deal' vary slightly but the key points stay the same, not applying for planning permission, farming and camping on the land. These potential 'investors' are probably unaware of the restrictions on the land and that they will be liable to pay large fines should any more development occur.


Background

Cressbrook Dale is a beautiful limestone valley in one of the most beautiful parts of England. It lies between Bakewell and Buxton, in the Peak District National Park and forms part of the Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserve. It has an extraordinary Natural History and is dear to the people who live here. It is also a favourite of walkers and holidaymakers. The dale is – or was – an unspoiled area of natural woodland and a refuge for many species of plant and animal, some extremely rare indeed. It is crossed by a number of Public Footpaths, it incorporates an area of Access Land (CROW Act), the entire area is covered by a Tree Preservation Order, it borders both Cressbrook Dale National Nature Reserve and Cressbrook Dale Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI). The area also enjoys 'Natural Zone' designation, the most highly protected status within the National Park. Development in the Natural Zone, other than in exceptional circumstances, is not permitted. No exceptional circumstances apply in this case.

To the residents the Dale is a place of calm and beauty in an often troubling world. For many it’s why they chose to live here. For others it’s always been home.

In June 2022 the villagers woke up to find that a vast swath of the dale had been sold to a group of people led by a one-time TV personality. The group were deliberately opaque about their aims but it’s since become clear that they believe in some kind of food apocalypse, a social breakdown, a “great reset” as it’s been called, and to save themselves and everyone else, they will live and grow food in the woods and feed us all.

The villagers of Cressbrook and surrounding areas do not feel any need to be saved and we are very worried about the impact that the scheme may have – and is already having – both on this delicate and valuable part of the area’s natural ecology and on our own peace and well-being. Already the group have used an earth-mover on site, a car-park has been built, turf dug up to create a path and make flat areas for structures, water-courses have been altered. There are plans to hold festivals and for camping on the site. More recent plans include selling off plots of land measuring 8 metres squared at a cost of £8000 making the value of the land approximately half a million pounds an acre. For this the 'investors' are told they have exclusive rights to the plot and will be able to stay on it whenever they want to.


What we are doing about it

We have set up a village-wide group and our mission statement is....

To prevent or minimise any changes which may adversely affect Cressbrook Dale and the village of Cressbrook as a result of a change in land ownership. We will pay special attention to:

  • the safeguarding of the flora and fauna of Cressbrook Dale.

  • the village community - which encompasses Cressbrook itself as well as Litton Slack, New Houses and Ravensdale - its celebrations, traditions and well-being

  • the much celebrated tranquility of the area.

We will achieve this by:

  • developing a comprehensive and supportive communications system for the community.

  • creating a repository for people’s personal reflections on Cressbrook and Cressbrook Dale.

  • liaising with appropriate organisations to record the existing flora and fauna.

  • monitoring and recording any changes as they occur.

  • reporting any changes to the relevant authorities.

Our methods are entirely peaceful and our objective is to halt this development legally. There is enough protective legislation in place to halt and reverse what is happening. It is held and implemented by the Peak District National Park Authority and Natural England, who are the major stakeholders in the future of the dale. We act as the eyes and ears on the ground to record and report what is happening so that the appropriate enforcement actions can be enacted by those that hold the power to do so.

But this will take time and it is very hard for us to watch the dale being destroyed so we are also communicating with the surrounding communities and wider public to help them understand what is happening and to reassure them that events are being challenged and that action is being taken. We have already received a huge amount of support from our friends and neighbours in Litton, Littonmill, Great Longstone, Tideswell, Wardlow and beyond as well as people visiting or simply passing through showing that our feelings about the situation in the dale are shared. We are also proactively educating people about what makes the dale so special and recording peoples' emotional responses to the recent events.

Why are we doing this?

Everyone now understands how important nature is for our health and well being. Well, the reverse is also true, when you destroy nature you catastrophically affect health and well being. We're doing it because we've been so emotionally traumatised by what has happened. It is very hard to watch as lorry loads of gravel are delivered and as a digger scrapes away wildflowers and destroys habitats and as you discover that your new and very close neighbours have no regard for your feelings, health and well being, for the preciousness of the land and for the institutions set up to protect what is so important to all of us.

Witnessing what is taking place in the Dale compels us to act. We are acting because the integrity of the dale supercedes everything. It was there before us, it has been there for us while we have lived here and we feel that it is imperative that it be there for the people who come after us, and for all of the people who access this beautiful and special part of the Peak District National Park.


What we have achieved so far

Once it became clear that destructive activities were starting to happen in the dale, we began reporting back to both Natural England and the Peak District National Park Authority. We have also engaged with a wide range of other bodies who would have in interest in what is happening including;

  • Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

  • Tideswell & District Environmental Group

  • CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire

  • The Woodland Trust

  • The National Trust

  • Derbyshire Dales District Council

  • Derbyshire County Council (including the Highways Authority)

  • The Environment Agency

  • Severn Trent

  • The Ramblers Association

  • British Mountaineering Council

  • Litton Parish Council

  • Our local MP

Although some of these organisations are only indirectly interested in what is happening in Cressbrook Dale, to all of them it is imperative to avoid a very dangerous precedent being set - The laws that protect such sensitive places like Cressbrook Dale must be seen to work .

We are doing everything we can to help the organisations that implement the law to succeed in their work.

Both the Peak District National Park Authority and Natural England have consulted with the owners to advise them on what they can and can't do in such a sensitive location, what laws they need to observe and what permissions they need to seek before embarking on their activities.

Subsequent to these meetings the owners have ignored all of the advice given to them and pushed ahead with groundworks on the site.

This has so far resulted in three significant actions;

  • On Friday the 22nd July 2022 the Peak District National Park Authority issued an emergency Tree Preservation Order (TPO) that covered all the remaining woodland in the dale not already covered by the existing Group TPO, which dated from 1957 and was only the second TPO to ever be struck within the National Park.

  • On Monday the 25th July 2022 the Peak District National Park issued a Temporary Stop Notice (TSN) to the group. This powerful piece of legislation makes it illegal for the group to execute any more work on the land without seeking the relevant Planning Consents.

  • The National Park Authority also issued the group with a Planning Contravention Notice (PCN). This is a request that the group inform the authority about how they intend complying with planning regulations. The group have a legal obligation to respond to a PCN within 21 days of its issue.

Although both TPO and TSN were published, issued to the land's trustees and put up on the land at multiple points on the perimeter the owners took them down and have repeatedly taken them down despite them being renewed by the Authority. This is of no matter in a legal sense because the Orders have been issued and apply regardless but it does seem to reinforce the idea that the new owners have no regard for the protections put in place to safeguard the land they now own.

What we would like you to do

  • Read through the material on the Resources page.

  • Talk about this with your friends and neighbours. People need to know about what is happening in Cressbrook Dale because if allowed to proceed it could happen to something equally precious near you.

  • Send us your experiences and stories of enjoying Cressbrook Dale ( via email to contactus@savecressbrookdale.com ) and read the Testimonies page to see how other people feel about the situation.

  • Link to this web site from yours.

  • Share it with your friends on social media (see links at top of page)

  • Visit the dale, walk its footpaths and enjoy its beauty. It's your right and nobody can take that away from you.


Thank them for implementing the Emergency Tree Preservation Order and ask them to work towards making it permanent, adding all of the affected to woodland to the existing Group TPO that covers the dale.

Thank them for their prompt action in preventing further unauthorised and damaging work from being undertaken in the dale. Assure them that they have your gratitude and support.

The postal address for this is..

Peak District National Park Authority

Aldern House

Baslow Road

Bakewell

Derbyshire DE45 1AE

They can also be contacted by email at customer.service@peakdistrict.gov.uk

If you are local;

  • Write to your local District Councillor expressing your concern and asking them to support and encourage the National Park Authority to stop the development.

  • Put up posters in your windows or gardens ( Ask us for one or print one the Resources page ).

  • Help us distribute leaflets.

  • Join us in any future marshalled events in the village. These will be announced using the usual channels.

Thank you for reading and sharing this website

contactus@savecressbrookdale.com