Press Release 29th July 2022

Our Press Release



29th July 2022

  • Urgent order placed by Peak District National Park Authority to stop development on a precious limestone dale

  • Open Access land and in the Natural Zone – all extremely environmentally sensitive

  • “These limestone dales are the closest things that we have to true wilderness in our area,” says Professor Lynn Crowe

A campaign to save Cressbrook Dale, a priceless limestone dale in Derbyshire’s environmentally sensitive area of the White Peak, has been launched following its sale to new landowners.

The campaign launched as an urgent order to stop development was issued by the Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA), after purchase of the land by a group who wish to settle the area as an eco-community, intending to use it for farming and as a site for festivals and shamanic healing to combat what they believe will be an apocalyptic social collapse in the near future.

The group, called “Phoenix Rose” has been set up to crowdfund around £940,000 to purchase 70 acres of land in Cressbrook Dale. The land, which borders Cressbrook village and surrounds the hamlet of Ravensdale, is being purchased in stages by the group. It forms part of the National Park’s protected ‘Natural Zone’, borders Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserve, includes a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is covered by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO).

A Temporary Stop Notice (TSN) was served by the PDNPA on 25th July prohibiting ‘carrying out of engineering operations, groundworks, alterations of ground levels, laying of surfacing materials and any engineering operations carried out as part of that activity or associated with it.’

Emeritus Professor of Environmental Management, Lynn Crowe explains that this area of the White Peak is extremely important and sensitive to any sort of disturbance or disruption to the ecology and biodiversity. “This is not farmland, it is designated as a Natural Zone. The fact that the Peak District National Park Authority has felt it necessary to issue a Temporary Stop Notice indicates their concern about the environmental impact of the activity in the area. These orders are rare and only ever used in an emergency. It’s also important to know that campsites are covered by planning as camping in the wrong location can have a huge impact on the land.”

Despite the land not yet being fully paid for, development has already begun. Work so far includes putting in gravel paths providing access to a large tepee, erecting a polytunnel, and installation of a caravan, a temporary toilet and hardstanding for parking. Tents have been on the land for a period exceeding the annual 28-day allowance.

“The potential damage caused by increased traffic, water and air pollution will disrupt the delicate balance of the ecology in this extremely important area. Trampling of the ground, the need to dispose of human waste and increased traffic all cause harm to the environment,” says Professor Crowe.

Much of the 70 acres (50 acres) is covered by ancient woodland, which is protected by the Tree Preservation Order (TPO) making it unsuitable for cultivation. The SSSI protects unique flora in the area that is found nowhere else in the world. The remaining 20 acres are grassland, much of which is open access land.

“The very fact that this area is open access land means that these meadows have never been cultivated previously,” says Professor Crowe. “The area needs to be protected as a precious last refuge for wildlife, and so that the area remains accessible to walkers and nature lovers who come to enjoy the tranquillity and solitude of the area.

“These limestone dales are the closest thing that we have to true wilderness in the area. They are home to different species of orchid and rare butterflies including the Dark Green Fritillary and the White-letter Hairstreak,” she adds.

According to a fundraising prospectus from the Phoenix Rose group, the ambition is to cultivate the land to provide vegetables and fruit for a so-called eco-community. However farming experts point out that the soil and landscape make it unsuitable for cultivation and there is not enough grazing to sustain livestock year round.

Penalties for contravening a Temporary Stop Notice may be subject to a fine of £20,000. Further contravention can result in indictment and unlimited fines. The Notice has been served around the site and anyone with an interest in the land would be liable for any contravention of the stop on development.

John Butler, Cressbrook community chair says: “As a Peak District rural community we live side by side with farmers, and the idea of an eco community farm is quite attractive. However, not all of the land in the National Park is suitable for cultivation or even grazing.

“Cressbrook Dale has already been categorised as part of the “Natural Zone”, representing the wildest and least developed areas of the Peak District. Other than in exceptional circumstances, proposals for development are simply not permitted. The Peak District National Park Authority Temporary Stop Notice means they are taking this extremely seriously which we support.

The new owners have either had some spectacularly bad advice about the potential uses of the land, or have been guilty of a woeful lack of due diligence in checking that what they were buying was fit for their purpose. I fear there will be some very disgruntled investors.

“I doubt there is a single person in the Cressbrook or Ravensdale community who doesn’t support the campaign to save the area from development and retain it as an open access area where everyone can continue to enjoy it for recreation and contact with nature.”– ends --


Why has this campaign been launched?

The integrity and tranquillity of a much-loved Derbyshire valley is being threatened by the activities of the new landowners. They seek to alter the landscape 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 surrounding communities and all the walkers and nature lovers from around the world who enjoy this incredible landscape.

The group buying the land are seeking new investors to help them pay for more of the land in the dale. These potential investors are likely to be unaware of the restrictions on the land and that they will be liable to pay large fines should any more development occur.

For more information about the campaign or to speak to members of the Cressbrook community, you can reach us at