Minutes after approving the proposal to open a kiosk at Crina Bottom, a remote farmstead beside the track leading to Ingleborough’s summit, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority issued a press release dismissing comments made in an objection by Ingleton Parish Council, saying the plan was “absolutely not about opening a café half-way up Ingleborough”.
In the statement, the authority’s chairman, Neil Heseltine, said the scheme would not compromise its purpose to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area.
The meeting had heard the kiosk structure had been erected on the highly protected site without planning permission, an issue which has regularly drawn sharp criticism from the authority’s members.
Planning officers underlined their view that the scheme would be “low-key”, and that the applicants had agreed to not display signs outside the croft where the food and drinks would be served, and the venture would not feature tables and chairs. Instead, the meeting heard customers would sit on rocks and felled trees.
Officers told the meeting the site was in a highly sensitive landscape as it was part of the Yorkshire Three Peaks, but a recently submitted comprehensive management plan meant any harmful impact on the surrounding area, and in particular litter, could be avoided.
The applicants told the meeting they had improved the appearance of the site since buying it last year and that they would take steps to reduce the potential for litter, serving food on washable plates and drinks in re-useable cups, and a bin would be available close to the kiosk.
They said: “We feel it will help make the countryside more accessible for some and prevent an elitist attitude towards the outdoors.”
Member Richard Good told the meeting some people new to walking since the pandemic had not realised that they needed to take provisions with them on hikes, so the food and drink offering would be welcomed.
However, the authority’s previous chairman, Carl Lis, said the amount of litter in the area had been a “massive issue” and that a lot of rubbish was dropped from customers of a cafe at the popular Ingleton waterfalls walk.
He said: “How on earth are we going to police this and make sure that we don’t add to the problems we have already?”
Mr Lis said there was “piles and piles” of rubbish on the national park’s highest peak, Whernside, and action was desperately needed to ensure the issue did not increase.
Upper Dales councillor Yvonne Peacock added there was potential for the scheme to become less low-key without the authority taking action. She said: “We have a statutory duty to have planning, but we have no statutory duty to enforce. I do think somebody needs to keep an eye on this and make sure what officers’ aim for this planning application does actually happen.”
Nevertheless, some members said they felt the scheme could improve the litter situation in the area as people would not need to bring their own food in wrappers.