Danes Moss letter in the Macclesfield Express
In early February 2023 a letter was published in the Macclesfield Express, it has repeated some of the inaccurate claims and misinformation that Cheshire East Council have included in past output. A shorter response has been published in the Macclesfield Express from 15th February 2023 but sadly letters are limited to about 300 words. Therefore to help give a fuller response we have published an unabridged version of the response here:
The full Save Danes Moss response:
The Save Danes Moss (SDM) group welcome discussion about the future of the Danes Moss site, part of Cheshire’s largest remaining lowland peatland.
We hope that all parties will consider the following in any such discussion:
i) The site is very rich in biodiversity, to the extent that the whole proposed development site – often referred to as the SMDA (South Macclesfield Development Area) or Danes Moss North – has very recently been officially designated as a Local Wildlife Site. Cheshire Wildlife Trust (CWT) have previously declared that the proposed development is “one of the most environmentally damaging schemes in Cheshire East in recent years”. Therefore, we hope that there will be no further reference to the site being of ‘limited environmental and ecological benefit’.
ii) The additional 950 houses proposed are not needed for Cheshire East Council (CEC) to fulfil their current commitments in the Local Plan, both for Macclesfield and Cheshire East. Not only is the housing supply well ahead of the proposed targets, according to CEC’s own figures, but now that the government have stepped back from their top- down approach to housing development CEC have the power to remove Danes Moss North from the Local Plan in their forthcoming Plan review. CWT, together with SDM, currently have a live petition for Cheshire East residents to request that the Council do this. The petition can be accessed here.
iii) CEC retain total control of what is planned on its own land, which represents over half of the total Danes Moss North area. If CEC do not progress the planning applications on their (our) land surely nobody else can? Where there is developer ownership of Danes Moss North land CEC retain control, as Local Planning Authority, as to what development is allowed. They are duty-bound to protect biodiversity and ensure that any developer has demonstrated that there will be no significant harm to the SSSI, something that nobody has yet done.
iv) Reference to the Chelford Rd/Whirley Rd planning appeal should take account of the fact that the Planning Inspector deemed that the greenhouse gas emissions caused by peat removal/ degradation would represent a low proportion of the overall emissions associated with the development. The Danes Moss North site has an average peat depth far greater (by a factor of at least five) and so the impact would be proportionally greater. As such it is quite possible that a different decision would be reached in any appeal.
v) The Danes Moss North peatland is irreplaceable habitat as, according to the experts that have visited, it is classed as an example of ‘degraded raised bog still capable of natural regeneration’. Irreplaceable habitats are habitats that can’t be recreated elsewhere in a reasonable timeframe; it takes many thousands of years to form peatlands like this. Such sites are given special protection in planning policy. Although in a degraded state, most of the site is clearly capable of being restored to active peatbog, as was done on the adjoining Danes Moss Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Therefore, references to the peat being ‘dead’ are meaningless.
vi) There is a large landfill site directly to the south of the proposed development. It produces significant amounts of landfill gases and leachates. The landfill operator has raised serious concerns about the impact of development on the landfill and stated that the gases and leachates could enter the development site because of the ground works and drying of the peat. CEC, having a legal duty of care to current and future residents, are obliged to act on this information.
Further information is available across this website.
Dr Simon Browne
Save Danes Moss