Climbers’ concern over future of Peak landmark

Rock climbing at Stanage Edge, Derbyshire. At four miles long, it has some of the best climbing in the Peak District and is only 15 minutes from Sheffield.
Rock climbing at Stanage Edge, Derbyshire. At four miles long, it has some of the best climbing in the Peak District and is only 15 minutes from Sheffield.
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The British Mountaineering Council has voiced concerns about the future of one of the Peak District’s most famous landmarks.

Stanage Edge, on the western edge of Sheffield, is a magnet for climbers from across the world and the most popular rock climbing spot in Britain.

But fears have been raised for its future amid plans by the Peak District National Park Authority to raise more money from its North Lees estate, which contains a large proportion of the edge.

The mountaineering council has launched a petition calling on the authority to ensure access is not restricted and the estate remains in public hands.

A spokesman for the organisation said: “We are calling on climbers, walkers and everybody with a love for Stanage Edge to sign a petition to safeguard its future.

“We are concerned income generation could become the national park’s priority, above conservation and freedom of access.

“Stanage was all but given to the park in the early 1970s by General Sir Hugh Beech, on the understanding the estate would always be somewhere everyone could enjoy quiet recreation.”

The British Mountaineering Council wants the national park to accept a nine-point charter for Stanage Edge:

■ Ensure it remains in public ownership;

■ Any commercial enterprise must not impede the spirit of access for all;

■ Recreational users and the local community must be consulted before decisions are made;

■ Caring for conservation, wildlife and landscape is paramount;

■ People value Stanage as a wild area kept free from intrusive developments. This must be safeguarded;

■ The cultural and archaeological heritage of Stanage must be preserved;

■ Revenue raised from the estate should be reinvested in the landscape;

■ Shooting rights should not be exercised.

Jim Dixon, chief executive of the Peak District National Park Authority, said: “There is nothing in our plans that will harm the interests of the whole of the North Lees Estate and all it does for the environment, visitors and local community.

“The British Mountaineering Council can be assured officers of the National Park Authority would support much, if not all, of the charter.

“We do need to review the management of this important estate and the authority has a track record of making important decisions on land and properties that have improved their overall contribution to the national park, such as the successful Eastern Moors Partnership.

■ Sign the petition at www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/stand-up-for-stanage.