Stanton Moor, west of Darley Dale near Matlock, is an iconic Peak District landscape. It has stunning views, beautiful heather moorland and amazing history and archaeology including the Nine Ladies Bronze Age stone circle.
The gritstone rock that lies beneath the moor is greatly valued as building stone and the area has been quarried for centuries. Although the amount taken is far less than from the big Peak District limestone quarries, modern methods are far more damaging to the land.
It’s complicated! There are quarries scattered all around the moor. Many still have planning permission to work, but are currently disused. There are three major active quarries: Dale View (run by Stancliffe Stone), Birchover (Birchover Stone Ltd) and New Pilhough (Blockstone Ltd). The main problems lately have been opposing quarrying at Endcliffe and Lees Cross (near the Nine Ladies) and resisting excessive extensions at Dale View and New Pilhough quarries.
- 1950s - Planning permissions are issued for continued quarrying at Palmers Pilhough (now Dale View quarry), Endcliffe and Lees Cross, Boden Stone Quarry, Stanton Moor Quarry, Stanton Park Quarry, Birchover Quarry, Dungeon and Barton Hill quarries. Many of these sites can no longer be worked. However, the remaining permissions are still valid until 2042.
- 1980s - Work begins at New Pilhough quarry. Initially extraction was unauthorised but permission was finally gained in 1986 including the surrender of working rights at Boden Stone Quarry.
- 1990s - There's increasing concern about the impact of quarries (especially lorries and future extensions) on the local villages of Birchover, Stanton in Peak, Stanton Lees and Rowsley.
Permission to extend Dale View quarry is refused in 1992 because of landscape damage.
- 1999 - Stancliffe Stone applies to re-open the dormant quarry at Endcliffe and Lees Cross with plans to work on a massive scale very close to the Nine Ladies stone circle. There is much local and national anger, and eco-warrior protestors occupy the site to physically protect it.
Permission is refused for an extension at New Pilhough.
- 2000 - Another proposal to extend New Pilhough is refused after local opposition.
We join the campaign against Endcliffe and Lees Cross. The Stanton Lees Action Group (SLAG) is formed.
- 2001 - Another application is made for an extension at New Pilhough. This time it offers giving up rights to quarry at Dungeon Quarry, plus creating new lorry roads that will bypass the main villages (these are never built).
- 2002 - The New Pilhough extension is controversially approved by the Peak District National Park Authority against fierce oppostition and demonstrations.
- 2003 - We work with SLAG to commission planning consultants to evaluate Stancliffe Stone’s 1999 application. They conclude that modern working on the scale proposed is not feasible. Stancliffe Stone then puts in an amended plan that - to our amazement - proposes even more extraction.
- 2005 onwards - Standcliffe Stone makes aggressive legal challenges to get the status of Endcliffe and Leed Cross changed from dormant to active. They fail. We commission expert legal advice which is used in the High Court and Court of Appeal battles.
- 2006 - Blockstone applies for a further extension at New Pilhough. We work closely with SLAG and villagers in Stanton in Peak and the proprosals are withdrawn.
Stancliffe Stone finally offers to give up its plans to work Endcliffe and Lees Cross in exchange for an extension to Dale View Quarry.
Lobbying strengthens when we form an active coalition with Stanton in Peak Parish Council, SLAG and Stanton Against the Destruction of the Environment (SADE).
- 2007 - Victory! Stancliffe Stone, under pressure from our coalition, downsizes the scale of the proposed extension. This is approved by the Peak District National Park Authority with our support. Endcliffe and Lees Cross is finally saved after eight years of blood, sweat and tears!
- 2009 - The dormant planning permission for Endcliffe and Lees Cross is finally torn up. The eco-warriors leave after ten years occupation. They clear up immaculately and leave the site in its peaceful, natural state.
- 2010 - More applications are expected to extend New Pilhough and Birchover Quarry. Both may well offer relinquishing their rights at other more sensitive sites on Stanton Moor as a planning sweetener. Watch this space...