Battle is joined as Alton Towers hits back at fears ride will harm hill fort
ALTON Towers has played down reports that a new £12 million roller coaster could be derailed amid claims the site for the new ride forms part of an ancient hill fort.
The theme park says a Staffordshire County Council archaeologist has visited the site and does not raise any concerns in relation to Bunbury hill fort.
Caption goes in here without a kicker
The building of the ride was thrown into doubt last week after a local resident raised concerns the theme park's plans would involve building part of the ride on the site.
The Iron Age hill fort is at the top of Bunbury Hill, where the Towers and Flag Tower are now located, although it may have been in occupation before then.
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Bronze Age burial mounds are just two miles away from Bunbury Hill and a Bronze Age sword was discovered in the late 18th Century in the earthworks to the hill fort.
A decision on whether the ride is given the green light will be decided at tomorrow's planning application committee at Staffordshire Moorlands District Council.
The application is being recommended for approval.
A total of 39 letters of objection have been received against the building of the new ride.
A spokesman for Alton Towers said: "The planning process for any new or replacement development requires a great deal of preparatory work to be completed, including ecological, environmental, topographical and geological studies, not to mention heritage, transport and economic impact reports.
"All of this is then presented to the district council, together with detailed plans, maps, visuals and diagrams of the proposed development.
"The planning committee then visits the site to undertake a detailed tour and consult with county officials as necessary.
"This process has been followed for the proposed replacement ride and the county archaeologist visited the site on Tuesday last week.
"His report has now been sent to the district council and we understand that it does not raise any concerns regarding the proposed development site in relation to the location of the hill fort.
"The district council will be discussing this application at their committee on Thursday after which we expect to hear whether or not the application has been approved."
The application for the ride has sparked objections from Farley and Alton parish councils.
In a letter to the district council, Farley Parish Council says that "the application contravenes the Supplementary Planning Guidance giving rise to visual amenity concerns for those living in Alton and Crumpwood".
Parish councillors also raised concerns about possible light pollution.
Alton Parish council is objecting about the location of the proposed ride.
A spokesman said: "While there is no objection to the ride itself, objection is raised about the proposed siting of the ride, in particular where it enters the surrounding woodland.
"The unspoilt nature of Churnet Valley should be maintained."
The theme park has said that the new ride will have a maximum track height of 65ft (20m), approximately 5.5ft (1.7m) lower than the previous Corkscrew ride.