Plans for an all-access angling facility and eco-friendly fish farm at a Lake District tarn have been refused by Lake District National Park Authority.

The proposal for Borwick Fold Tarn, off Chapel Lane, Crook, was unanimously voted down by the development control committee at a meeting in Kendal.

Robert Taylor-Hughes applied to create the fishing facility between Bowness and Staveley.

It would feature an aquaponic agricultural enterprise, growing vegetables, micro-greens, berries and fish without using fertiliser.

The development attracted more than 60 representations of support including The Soldier’s Charity and the British Disabled Angler’s Association.

But it also drew around 40 objections including the parish councils for Staveley, Ings,  Crook and Winster, and the Friends of the Lake District

National park planner Ben Long recommended refusal because it was an undeveloped site and location.

Mr Long said: “Fundamentally, the issue is the change of the nature of the site from an undeveloped to a more developed character.”

Simon Pomeroy, representing the applicant, told the committee that the tarn was man-made but its collapse was imminent and required stewardship to be saved.

He said it would represent a proven and sustainable farm on farmland on a lake that had been traditionally fished.

“Borwick Fold Tarn would flourish and grow under sympathetic guidance, with the further addition of trees and plant life,” said Mr Pomeroy.

Mr Taylor-Hughes, a former infantry officer, said it would provide employment for ex-servicemen and would welcome disabled people.

He said a £375,000 European Aquaponics research project would fund 40 per cent of the project.

Mr Taylor-Hughes said a small number of walkers and cyclists passed through each day but denied the development could be seen from the Dales Way.

Mr Taylor-Hughes said: “The design, position and use of local materials will totally blend with the many existing buildings in this area. There is an extensive planting and habitat programme to screen the development, but there is no logical reason to hide it completely, as it could be conditioned.”

“It is a self-sustaining agricultural showcase to educate, train and consult in the future of green farming techniques – in line with the Government’s health and harmony white paper.

"This is not a mass-production farm and we would benefit hugely from growing our own fish stocks. The future of subsidy-free farming in Cumbria can be without fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides. Our green future is very much in your hands.”

Development control committee member, Mike McKinley, the chairman of the authority, said there was no doubt it was a worthy enterprise.

“I think our planning officer has got it right,” he said. “Our core strategies lead us to the inevitable conclusion that this is an enterprise which wishes to start up in a place which, in landscape terms, is unacceptable to us.”

Panel member John Thompson said it contravened a raft of policies. “We have to follow the law of planning and the principles of planning,” he said.

Committee member Hugh Branney said the benefits outweighed the harm.

Mr Taylor-Hughes said the decision meant a loss of £775,000 in funding and grants, £40,000 in unrecoverable fees and four full-time jobs.

“This project has been sabotaged by a small group of local residents,” he said.