Hotel development threatens natural environment

Date: Tuesday 13th February 2018

Sir, The absurdity of the assurance that there will no increase in the existing footprint of the Lovelady Shield site at Alston, given to Eden District Council at January’s meeting of the planning committee, is very obvious.

The outline planning permission for Lovelady Shield Hotel was for the creation of 38 apartments, a total of 68 bedrooms, plus a swimming pool/leisure spa. The site, near Nenthall, is in a very rural area on the banks of the tiny River Nent.

The hotel is presently not on a public sewerage system and the proposed solution for this “major development” is for a larger septic tank, discharging directly into the Nent. This is for the effluent from more than 100 residents, plus the treatment of chlorinated water from the swimming pool.

The River Nent is home to otters, herons, water voles, oyster catchers, dippers and brown trout. These have no representative voice on the planning committee.

Our children paddle and bathe in the River Nent through Alston to where it meets the South Tyne. They should not be exposed to sewage bacteria from this large septic tank.

The River Nent has high levels of zinc, cadmium and lead from the abandoned local lead and silver mines. This results in a unique ecology, especially of rare metal-tolerant algae, which are of international significance. These are likely to be lost due to sewage phosphates and nitrate discharges.

A final application for the removal of some of these toxic heavy metals which contaminate the River Nent is due to be submitted by the Environment Agency and the Coal Authority this month. They propose a large water treatment plant at North Hudgill, just 100 metres from the western boundary of this proposed holiday complex.

Lovelady Shield Hotel is in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The statement that “there are no protected species within the grounds of the hotel” is not based on any actual evidence. We wonder why there has been no environmental impact assessment, no bat survey and no tree survey, as is required under planning law.

We have seen rare and protected bats, badgers, sparrow hawks, greater spotted woodpeckers and both black and red grouse on the site.

This development may be on the market for £3 million, but it does not yet have full planning permission. It presently has outline planning permission, and three of the five reserved matters have yet to be submitted. These are the most relevant to environmental and local concerns: “appearance”, “landscaping” and “scale”.

Our tiny ward of Nentsberry has around only 60 registered voters. We need help if we are to challenge the negative impact this development project will have on local residents, visitors and the natural environment. Yours etc,


Low Browngill,