We’ve uncovered a document that Cheshire East Council have been keeping from the public for almost half a year. There’s no excuse: it’s a final report – not a draft.
The report is called ‘South Macclesfield Development Area: Assessment of Peatland Carbon Status‘ and dates back to 7 December 2021.
The key points:
- If the peat on the SMDA site at Danes Moss is excavated it will release up to 220,000 tonnes of CO2. That’s massive. It’s a carbon bomb the equivalent of nearly 10% of the annual emissions for the entire borough.* So much for being a carbon neutral council!
- The report also states that some of the site could be rewet and restored to active bog (so that it is sequestering carbon): this is crucial. Bogs that are still capable of natural regeneration are classed as habitats of international importance. Any destruction of these habitats can only take place in ‘wholly exceptional circumstances.*‘ Dr Rachel Giles of the Cheshire Wildlife Trust made this point at the Strategic Planning Board meeting in 2017. That was before we had confirmation that the site can probably be restored. She was treated to ignorant comments from board members at the time such as one member’s view that the development would be taking place on ‘land that – in my opinion – has no aesthetic value. It’s scrubland.’
- It’s not clear why the report states that restoring more than 10% of the site would be ‘unrealistic’. In conversations with the Cheshire Wildlife Trust we agree that there’s no obvious reason why most of the site could not be restored. Maybe the 10% limit is purely financial consideration.
Now, the council have serious questions to answer.
- Why have they kept such an important document from the public for nearly half a year? This information is clearly of great public interest. Who decided not to publish this? Councillors or officers?
- How can they possibly justify developing Danes Moss now that we know how much CO2 will likely be released?
- Knowing that a local climate disaster is on the cards, how can the Leader of the Council Sam Corcoran possibly claim that ‘new technology’* will make the development safe?
- With the admission that at least 10% of the site is capable of restoration a full study into the potential of restoring the vast majority of the site must be undertaken. If not the council will be pressing ahead with the destruction of habitat that is irreplaceable and probably of International Importance.
*estimated to be 2,518,000 tCO2e / year. Source: Cheshire East Council (2020) Environment Strategy
* as stated in the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations (2017)
*The technical reports admit that this ‘new technology’ will lead to about 20% shrinkage of the peat on site. Shrinkage = drying out = huge CO2 emissions