Threat to rare stone landscape

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The Independent Online
A RARE Yorkshire Dales rock formation, formed by thousands of years of wind and rain, is under threat because the national park is powerless to prevent a farmer removing the stone, writes Oliver Gillie.

Winskill Stones are a geological formation known as limestone pavement and protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act because it is a rare landform and provides an unusual habitat for wild plants, but Alec Robinson has a licence to take the stone that is valid until 2042.

When the pavement is broken up the naturally sculpted stones fall into pieces highly prized by gardeners and sell for up to pounds 140 per tonne. However, a pressure group, the Limestone Pavement Action Group, wants to make gardeners ashamed of using this stone and hope to force it off the market.

Clive Kirkbride, landscape conservation officer with the national park, said: 'This stone has been used for centuries for building and most of the sites have been damaged. There is relatively little left. Limestone pavement is now recognised under the EC habitats directive as a rare landform and a way must be found to revoke old mining concessions as soon as possible.' The park wants to buy the 70 acres covered by Mr Robinson's concession but not at a price he can accept.

(Photograph omitted)