Save Danes Moss

Is Groundwater in Danes Moss North Connected to Danes Moss Nature Reserve and SSSI ?
Connectivity of water flow between the Danes Moss SSSI and the development area

Danes Moss is a very special place. Whether it’s the abundant and sometimes endangered wildlife, the historic beauty of the moss rooms, or the vital roles it plays in combatting climate chaos and flooding, we desperately need it to be saved, for ourselves and for future generations.

The beauty and resilience of the whole place depends on the vital presence of vast quantities of deep, wet, claggy peat that gives us amazingly diverse habitats – home to some of the rarest creatures in Britain.

Sphagnum Moss Hummocks on the Danes Moss SSSI
Carbon capturing Sphagnum hummocks on the Danes Moss SSSI

The peat is so critical to local and national environments that the adjoining area has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Cheshire East Council recognised the importance of this by including a clause in its policy for the site:

The site will be developed only where it can be demonstrated that there is no significant harm on the Danes Moss SSSI, particularly in relation to changes in water levels and quality, species populations and recreational pressures. This should include a full assessment of the direct and indirect impacts of the development on the features of special interest. Where impacts after mitigation cannot be avoided, development proposals will not be permitted.

We have been highly critical of the poor quality of data and analysis included in the Environmental Statement submitted with the outline application, and it should come as no surprise that the impacts of the proposals on the SSSI have not been assessed at any time.

We have repeatedly asked for a detailed study of the hydrological relationships between the development site and the SSSI, because if the peat on Danes Moss North is damaged or destroyed it could have catastrophic effects on the water levels and quality in the SSSI and Nature Reserve. The government’s own advisory body – Natural England – has also demanded such a study [1] but despite half-truths and empty statements, no evidence of the connections between the two areas has been forthcoming.

So, in the interests of an open, fair, and green discussion we should disclose that we have observed a clear surface water connection between the SSSI and Danes Moss North, specifically at the point where Public footpath no: 2 (Sutton) approaches the pedestrian bridge across the rail line. In the aftermath of Storms Elin and Gerrit, just after Christmas 2023, we noted standing water at least 750mm deep on both sides of the footpath, with a strong flow through a culvert beneath the path.

The watercourses throughout the peatland areas are fed by groundwater contained within the peat, so we must assume that the two sites are directly connected. Any damage to, or destruction of, peat layers on Danes Moss North must therefore jeopardise the existence of the SSSI and Nature Reserve.

Flooding between Danes Moss SSSI and Danes Moss North
Water flowing between the SSSI and Danes Moss North, 18/02/2024
Water was over 2 feet deep, 18/02/2024
Flooding between Danes Moss SSSI and Danes Moss North
They want to build hoouses here, 18/02/2024

References

[1] Letter from Natural England to Cheshire East Council Planning Management dated 26 th January 2022 https://planning. cheshireeast.gov.uk/ applicationdetails. aspx?pr=19/1796M

Water table showing just below the surface on Danes Moss North
Year round the water table is just below the surface on Danes Moss North

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