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30 January 2005
Happy end in sight for Nine Ladies stone circle

Protesters who have camped for five years at a Peak quarry say they are planning to leave now victory is in sight. They have been campaigning to save the quarries from further workings, because of their proximity to the historic Nine Ladies Stone Circle (Derbyshire, England).
     A deal between Stancliffe Stone and the Peak District National Park Authority to indefinitely adjourn a bid to reopen Endcliffe and Lees Cross quarries means the firm will investigate other options for supply. Now protesters say that as soon as the future of the site is guaranteed they will pack their bags and leave. Veteran campaigner Malcolm Dixon, 36, said: "Obviously it is good news. We are looking for assurances that Stancliffe Stone won't quarry here. If we get a positive outcome we will be packing up."
     Last year Matlock company Stancliffe Stone had been told if it wanted to reopen the quarries it would have to meet certain conditions. The company was set to challenge the decision at the Court of Appeal in March. Now the deal with the national park will delay the court action if work can be found for the firm's 68-strong workforce.
     Chair of the Peak Park Authority Tony Hams said if the court was happy with the deal, it would give both parties breathing space. He added: "It means we have more time to consider any other options that come up but in no way does it preclude going back to the court or any other options we might be considering for those quarries."
     The campaigners have built tree houses on the 32-acre site and dug a complex of deep tunnels and defences in stone cavities. If the future of the quarries is guaranteed, they face the prospect of leaving the place they have called home for the past five years "We will spend some time taking the site down," said Mr Nash. "We will leave it as a natural place of beauty as it originally was.

Source: Matlock Today (27 January 2005)

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