Main image: the proposed site layout. Photo:

A petition opposing plans to turn a quarry in the heart of the Lake District into a rollercoaster venue has attracted thousands of signatures in less than a day.

The plans involve turning the Elterwater Quarry in Langdale into an ‘adventure tourism experience’ featuring a high rope course and a rollercoaster running through and around the quarry. The proposal has been made by the quarry’s owners, Burlington Stone, in partnership with Zip World, the company behind plans for a Thirlmere zip wire which were rejected in 2018.

The campaign group Zip Off started a petition against against the plans yesterday which as of writing has attracted 2,500+ signatures, with the numbers of signatories rising rapidly.

’Theme park’

The statement accompanying the petition says: “Sad news announced of a planned theme park in Elterwater in the heart of the Langdale valley, in the Lake District World Heritage Site. Planning application expected in days. We stand against these plans, as we did against Thirlmere zip wires.”

The statement continues: “The rides that are planned include a roller coaster and a high ropes course. The railed roller coaster would loop around a large area of the site, and into a quarry cave. We strongly believe that the National Park is being developed as a theme park.

“Zip World (now worth £45 million, after a recent investment round) has just bought Treetop Treks, who they previously partnered for their attempt to install zip wires across Thirlmere. Zip World now have a foothold in the Lake District, based at Brockhole. Their landlord at Brockhole is the Lake District National Park Authority, through whom they would make the planning application for Elterwater Quarry. Surely a demonstrable conflict of interest?

“Langdale and Elterwater cannot cope with increased traffic, and extra shuttle buses between the Brockhole and Elterwater Zip World sites. The plans outline a major new car park in Elterwater, contrary to World Heritage Site aims and sustainability.

“Footpaths cross under the roller coaster, causing potential access, noise and safety issues. We note greenwash nods to EV charging points and heritage interpretation, next to the thundering theme park rides.

“Langdale is the jewel in the crown of the Lake District, and its natural beauty, landscapes, traditions, and tranquility attract tourists and locals alike. It is not a suitable location for theme park rides, and there’s no accommodation for their staff.

“We are local residents who will passionately campaign against this Zip World Elterwater Lake District development.”

‘Immersive learning experience’

In a statement on the website of Elterwater Quarry, the development is described as an “exciting recreation-based tourism attraction” which will “provide an immersive learning experience in this unique setting.”

The statement continues: “This is an environmentally friendly toboggan style coaster on a track, which will take passengers through forested areas and reclaimed quarry land, culminating in an exciting underground section through the spectacular caverns.

“There will also be opportunities for non-participating viewers to view the activities from vantage points adjacent to the right of way and to learn about the history of both Elterwater Quarry and the slate industry in general.

“These experiences will provide a fun way for guests to appreciate and enjoy the environment, without having to alter or change the existing landscape. It will allow visitors to get a real sense of the quarries [sic] rich history, which dates back to the middle of the 19th century and find about the generations of miners and quarrymen who worked there, extracting the areas [sic] distinctive Lakeland Green slate.

“The design of the activities and visitor centre will all be of high quality and based on the site’s proud industrial legacy and of course the noise and disruption associated with quarrying activity will cease. The development will predominantly be contained within the quarry void and caverns, supplemented by sympathetic landscaping around the site.”

The statement also says that time slots will be staggered through the day to avoid “overly busy points” and that a new car park will be built at the quarry to avoid putting any additional strain on parking provision in the area, with facilities for electric car charging and bicycle storage.