MORE ON Go Ape, the company that transforms
boring old woodland in Britain’s parks into fun
aerial assault courses (Eye 1214).
At Rivington, near Bolton, approval for a
Go Ape site in Lever Park, gifted to the public
100 years ago by eccentric soap magnate Lord
Leverhulme, was passed last year by Chorley
borough council in clear breach of its own
planning rules.

The scheme was passed under “delegated
powers” even though the size of the site 3 – 2
hectares – should have required a full planining
committee meeting. When locals threatened to take
the matter to the local government ombudsman,
council chief exec Donna Hall decreed that the
site in fact measured less than a hectare and
therefore hadn’t needed a full meeting. This new
figure was reached by only including the bits that
touched the ground – leaving out hundreds of
metres of cables and zip-wires in the trees!

Just three trees were initially slated for
destruction in the original application. Thirteen
more turned out to be “diseased” when inspected,
and yet more disappeared along the line of the
zip-wires. Not to worry. A “wildlife hedge” will
supposedly replace some biodiversity. Go Ape’s
ecologist interestingly claims that “breeding birds
are not affected by people in trees”. And anyhow,
the new development will barely be noticed since,
according to the supporting letter to the planning
committee from landowners United Utilities, it
will provide no significant increase in visitors.
Funny, then, that the car park was the first thing
to be built.

PS: Not everyone hates Go Ape. Managers from
Royal Bank of Scotland, for example, have been
enjoying “team-bui I ding” exercises at Go Ape
sites in Scotland. Any suggestion that, given
the bank’s recent performance, RBS managers
should be hanging from trees rather than merrily
swinging through them, would be in very poor
* Is your park under threat? Tell the Ey

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