A BATTLE over the future of one of the most industry-scarred areas of a national park is set to resume.

The owner of the former Spaunton Quarry site in the North York Moors National Park is set to launch a counter-offensive after being accused of hindering efforts to restore the disused limestone pits. Landowner George Winn-Darley insists his blueprint to sensitively redevelop the 1km by 1.5km site will be in the best interests of everyone, but some of the park’s officers say the scheme would fail to clear eyesores.

Members of the national park authority’s planning committee are set to visit the site near Kirkbymoorside next week to help consider his proposal to create a caravan site on the historic common.

While authority officers initially supported Mr Winn-Darley’s plan saying it would be a suitable use for the former quarry, they have since called for it to be rejected as the landowner has refused to demolish an 80sq metre former quarry office building described as an “ugly reminder of the quarrying”.

The plans are further complicated by Mr Winn-Darley’s ambition to swap areas of “lunar landscape” common land in the quarry for other areas of his land which could support wildlife. While some campaigners say these areas should remain sacrosanct, he says 160 years of quarrying irrevocably altered the common land.

At a meeting last month, officers expressed their exasperation over the lack of progress in restoring the former quarry.

Chris France, the authority’s director of planning told members: “There’s a commitment once you undertake major development in a national park to renovate it and restore it completely. We are now 12 years on with the restoration of this quarry, but the applicant has stymied this restoration and hindered it at every stage I’m afraid.”

Ahead of the site visit, Mr Winn-Darley dismissed claims he had not actively pursued restoring the quarry, and said it was 98 per cent complete.

He pointed towards how he had planted acres of winter grazing land and woods supporting rare species such as the scarlet pimpernel and had managed land to boost populations of pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies.

Mr Winn-Darley said his plan for caravans to be sited in wooded areas of the site would help further the national park’s ambitions of providing employment, boosting the visitor economy while conserving the landscapes.

He said: “The site has huge potential and we are working hard to try and deliver the optimum result for everybody, be it common land graziers, people wanting to exercise the right to walk on common land.

“I’m trying to take a longer term view of this. This site has been a large employer of people since 1840 and I see no reason why it can’t continue to perform that function for society.”