Macclesfield’s Danes Moss is an area with exceptionally rich biodiversity and high ecological value which benefits the town and it’s residents. Raised lowland peat bogs like Danes Moss are an increasingly rare habitat, both nationally and globally, with over 94% having been lost in the UK in recent years, as such we should celebrate having Danes Moss on our doorstep. Very few councils can boast that they have 300 acres of raised lowland peat bog with over 900 different species recorded (with many more to find!) within their local area, including multiple species of national importance such as breeding Willow Tits and Dingy Skipper butterflies. The true value of this site has frequently been overlooked by Cheshire East Council and developers, but it cannot be overestimated. The monumental task of documenting and identifying the species found on Danes Moss has predominantly been done by our executive team, yielding records of over 900 species and 101 with legal protection. This has been enhanced by surveying trips conducted by academic professionals who specialize in various ecological fields. Therefore, providing irrefutable evidence of the immense value of the proposed development site.
The environmental cost of developing Danes Moss would be catastrophic and far reaching, disproportionately impacting younger generations who will inherit the burden of an ever-worsening climate emergency and ecological decline. These immense global issues are a result of decades of inadequate environmental policies and ecological ignorance at a local and national level which have culminated in worldwide climate and biodiversity disasters. Thus, the significance of the Save Danes Moss campaign cannot be overlooked as the last remaining areas of irreplaceable habitat and populations of endangered species are worth fighting for.
The Save Danes Moss executive committee has nine dedicated, hard-working volunteers, who have put in high volumes of work towards this campaign. The committee is supported by dozens of passionate volunteers who have a keen interest in the local environmental, ecological, and social well-being of Macclesfield and have helped the campaign go from strength to strength. Over the last year the Save Danes Moss team has continuously raised awareness of the campaign via social media, leafleting local residential areas, protesting outside planning meetings, and attending numerous local events.
Throughout the year the campaign has featured prominently in the local press and enjoys continued prominence thanks to articles by Vic Barlow and Nub News, as well as local radio stations Canalside Radio, Silk FM and Congleton Radio. BBC North-west Tonight broadcast a piece filmed on Danes Moss. We are also finding increased awareness and involvement from across the whole of Cheshire East and beyond.
In June Chris Packham, broadcaster and environmental campaigner also posted a video on social media urging people to support the campaign and later posted a further message of support. Several of our members have reached out to prominent naturalists and authors over 2022 and have attracted the support of many famous names such as Springwatch presenters Megan McCubbin and Lucy Lapwing (as well as Chris Packham) plus popular nature writers Mark Cocker and Isabella Tree. Chris Packham has offered continued support and raised awareness using his social media following, which has greatly expanded the national reach of our campaign. As a result of these combined actions, our petition, to end development plans, has gained over 22,000 signatures in the last year and our Facebook group has more than 1,700 members and grows larger every day.
In July an open letter signed by naturalists, authors and academics was sent to Cllr Sam Corcoran, Leader of Cheshire East Council. The signatories included Mark Cocker, Chris Packham, Richard Mabey and Kathleen Jamie, Scotland’s Makar. The letter extolled the unique importance of Danes Moss and asked the Council to stop the plans to develop the site. The full letter can be read here.
In September Mark Cocker, award-winning author of natural history and environmental books including Our Place, a survey and critique of the state of nature conservation in the UK, wrote an open letter and blog to Cllr Sam Corcoran. In it he describes vividly the unique otherness of Danes Moss and how it should be valued and protected not only as a rich habitat but as a cultural treasure and much-loved green space near to the heart of Macclesfield. The full open letter and blog can be read on Mark’s website here.
Throughout the year further messages of solidarity and support from other well-known figures including Dave Goulson, academic and author of The Silent Earth, Benedict MacDonald, environmental campaigner and author of Rebirding, Derek Gow, campaigner and writer and Knepp Rewilding have been posted on social media. Most recently Springwatch presenter, Lucy Lapwing has visited Danes Moss to see for herself what is at stake. All express disbelief that such a wonderful site would ever be considered suitable for development. After all, why would a Council whose duties include the protection of the environment choose to destroy an irreplaceable peatland habitat, natural carbon sink and one of the most biodiverse sites in the Borough?
In October, the Save Danes Moss campaign has combined forces with Cheshire Wildlife Trust to promote a more eco-conscious vision for Danes Moss which was designed by Diana Moss of our Executive Committee. The Vision is supported by Macclesfield Town Council and has enthusiastic backing from local residents. It paints an exciting picture for the future of Danes Moss, as a carbon store and nature reserve, in addition to highlighting opportunities to enrich the local area through recreation, eco-tourism, and improved ecological functioning. Our thanks go to Cheshire Wildlife Trust for their support for this Vision and our campaign along with their efforts to make Danes Moss North a designated ‘Local Wildlife Site’. This has been successful, and designation has finally been achieved, thus enhancing protection of the site and its legitimacy as a vital refuge for nature within Macclesfield.
Many have joined peaceful and good-natured protests and demonstrations outside Council and Strategic Planning Board meetings throughout the year turning up in all weathers with home-made placards and banners to demonstrate the depth of local feeling against the proposed environmental destruction. There have been sales of art, cakes and other donated items in support of the fundraiser and talks to inform and engage.
As the campaign has grown so has our relationship with the town. We have the backing of our local MP as well as cross party support. Many businesses have shown tremendous support by allowing us to promote the campaign using space within their units from posters displayed in windows to decorated shop fronts such as that at Plums Kitchen or selling merchandise to raise funds, it is hard to be unaware or ignore the campaign as you go about the town. Local electrician, Richard Wheatcroft has shown his support by decorating his (electric powered) van; a mobile billboard spreading the word throughout Macclesfield and beyond. Save Danes Moss beer mats appeared in pubs and restaurants over the Christmas period in Macclesfield and beyond. Local craft brewery Red Willow has been selling a beer named Senseless as a fundraiser for the campaign and this has been on tap in many of the pubs and bars in the town with promotional beer mats summarising what is at stake and how people can help.. We have also had generous contributions from local artists, and artists further afield, who have designed pieces for our campaign and donated the funds raised via sales. Save Danes Moss t-shirts were designed by a local artist which inspired us to create our own designs through Teemill, both have proved to be an enormous success.
Thanks to the substantial contributions from members of the public, local businesses, and our diligent Save Danes Moss events team we have raised over £23,000 for legal costs, see here.
We are delighted with the success of the campaign so far and have a more positive outcome than we could have imagined this time last year. Everyone in our Danes Moss team including our volunteers and supporters have put in many hours of hard work over 2022, and it is genuinely exciting to see how much the campaign has progressed. From all our Save Danes Moss team, we would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this in whatever way during 2022, from making banners and turning up at protests to writing letters, blogs and tweets and decorating shop windows, business premises and vans! You have all played a vital part in ensuring that Danes Moss has remained firmly in the public eye and will remain so until its future as a space for nature and people is secured.
And what is to come in 2023…
We are now about to begin a second year of campaigning and there is plenty of publicity and promotion in the pipeline. Keep an eye on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok) and our website for the latest updates…