Bethesda Quarry Zip Wire – Summary for Planning Authority
25 Jan 2012 | Posted In: Local NewsNews

Preamble

The intention is to build and operate a World Class Zip Wire business within a “decommissioned” area of Bethesda Quarry.

There are good examples of commercially successful zip wire businesses that are less impressive (than that proposed for Bethesda Quarry) and in less advantageous locations. The Zip Wires will attract visitors from across the UK and further afield.

One pair of zip wires will be 1500m long and the other 450m long.

What is a Zip Wire?

Consists simply of a suspended cable (or artificial fibre) which is approximately 20mm in diameter and that is suspended between a post at either end approximately 4 metres high.  A relatively low platform (2 metres high) may also be required at the start of each zip wire.

Participants are securely attached to a trolley by means of a safety lanyard and a harness. They descend at high speed on the trolley but are brought to rest by means of friction and a specially designed arresting device.

The structure will be designed, constructed inspected and operated in accordance with EN15667 for Ropes Courses (parts 1 and 2 respectively). Zip Wires are defined as a ropes course element within this European standard.

The Team

The proposal is to create a new company (New Com).  This will consist of the founders of Tree Top Adventure Ltd, Betws y Coed and Ropes Course Developments Ltd (RCD). The shareholders and Directors will be: Sean Taylor, Mathew Shaylor and Nick Moriarty.

RCD is widely accredited with having founded the ropes course industry in Europe. RCD has constructed more than a thousand installations in over 35 countries. More than three million people use its installations annually and remarkably, in over 20 years of business, RCD has never had a reportable accident.

The shareholders of RCD also founded Aerial Extreme Ltd – a successful ropes course operating business with a number of prime locations in the UK.  RCD helped Sean Taylor create Tree Top Adventure.

Mathew Shaylor is the world’s leading ropes course construction manager. Nick Moriarty is a specialist in design and is well known for his work in developing European standards. He is the President of the European Ropes Course Association and Convenor of the body that oversees the development of the European Ropes Course Standards. Furthermore he is an advisor to the Health and Safety Executive on related matters.

Tree Top Adventure was created by Sean Taylor.  A former Royal Marine and entrepreneur, Sean developed this first class facility from scratch.  He obtained planning permission, in a very sensitive area, by working closely with Snowdonia National Park and has won a number of awards and prizes for his efforts.  Every year he has increased the offering a TTA – thereby ensuring the business continues to grow.

Sean Taylor’s latest plan is to establish “The Hub” in Betws-y-Coed.  Located in the heart of the village, this will be an agency that will promote all the adventurous activities in north Wales – not least the proposed developments at Bethesda Quarry.

The three owners and Directors of New Com will focus all their efforts and resources on the proposed development at Bethesda.

Zip Wire operation

The proposal is to install two (or three) long zip wires (upwards of 1500m each) and 2 (or three) shorter cables at approximately 450m each (in reality it may be closer to 500m).  The benefits of having two or three zip wires at each location are:

Doubles the throughput opportunity

  1. Enhances the experience (shared) for participants and spectators
  2. Provides some redundancy (in unlikely event a cable is out of action)

At this stage it is envisaged that there will be two primary zip wire options:

Combo Ticket.  This will include the 450m zip and the 1500m zip wire

  1. 450m Zip only

Clearly there will be early bird, family, multiple ride and group tickets within each of these two main options.

Access to and from the 450m zip will be on foot.

Access to the 1500m zip will be from the bottom of the 450m zip via a truck ride.  This ride takes 10 minutes.

The intention is to have 2 trucks – each capable of carrying 20 people.  Each truck will be able to deliver two groups of 20 people per hour.  This means up to 80 people an hour can participate in the 1500m zip wire.

The intention is to have the zip wire open for as much of the year as possible.  Electrical storms and exceptionally high winds will prevent operation but the latter is most unlikely to impact the 450m zip wire.

Employment

The business is expected to permanently employ 9 people in year one – increasing to 20 people in year three and 25 in year 5.

Competition and Evidence of feasibility

Approximately 45 million people took part in a ropes course activity in Western Europe in 2010.  The majority of these included a zip wire.  The average length of a zip wire on a ropes course is between 100 and 150m. The longest Go Ape Zip Wire is 400m long (Scotland) and there is evidence to suggest people travel the length of the country to do this!

Adrenalin Quarry in Cornwall has two zip wires over a lake. They run parallel and are 490 metres long. The fee is £10 per person.  The location is poor although the zip wire is good.  The second year of operation at Adrenalin Quarry produced a throughput of 35,000 people. Bethesda Quarry is far more impressive and better located.

Prices for the world’s longest zip wires vary significantly; however, upwards of £100 per person is not unusual. The longest is now claimed to be in the Dolomites at 3km long and the cost appears to be between €200 and €400 for one person. Visit: http://www.adrenalineadventures.it/index.php.  The height above the ground however appears to be less than that proposed at Bethesda!

In the UK there is no zip wire over 500 metres long – consequently there is no real competition.  There are mountains in the UK; however, for the most part the following challenges exist:

Mixed ownership of land makes contractual arrangements difficult

  1. Inaccessibility (no mechanical infra structure – e.g. ski lifts and cable cars)
  2. Where the best opportunities exist there are the least people (e.g. highlands of Scotland)
  3. Prohibitively strict planning policies make such developments in mountains practically impossible

The advantage with the proposed location is that the land has one owner.  The proposed area is a redundant quarry with no other use practical use and although it is within a mountainous region it is outside of the National Park and remains a quarry.  It is hoped that the planning authority will recognise the tremendous opportunity this plan affords the local area and will give the proposed application its full support.

 

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