OPEN LETTER AND INVITATION TO CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF CHESHIRE EAST COUNCIL
Monday 12th December, 2022
Dear Ms O’Donnell,
This is an open letter sent by the Save Danes Moss campaign.
For nearly a year the Save Danes Moss campaign has opposed the plans of Cheshire East Council to build 950 homes on Danes Moss in Macclesfield – a plan otherwise known as the ‘South Macclesfield Development Area’ (SMDA).
This place is one of the most important natural sites in the region. It is one of the biggest areas of stored carbon in Cheshire. The Cheshire Wildlife Trust have described this development project as‘One of the most environmentally damaging schemes ever proposed in Cheshire East and the likely destruction of natural capital (biodiversity and stored carbon) at this scale is unprecedented in recent decades within the Cheshire region.’
The Carbon Status Report (2021) for the SMDA states that there is potential for release of up to 220,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions if the peat on site is disturbed. This represents nearly 10% of the annual emissions from the entire borough of Cheshire East and would destroy the potential for the site to become a permanent carbon sink.
The world now faces a climate and biodiversity emergency and on paper many of Cheshire East’s policies in relation to becoming ‘net-zero’ and the protection of biodiversity within the Borough appear commendable. It is clear that at a policy level you are trying to move towards doing the right thing. We therefore find it difficult to understand why, given the emergency and your laudable aims, Cheshire East’s plans to develop Danes Moss are still being progressed.
We believe that there is a practical and achievable future for the proposed development site on Danes Moss which would align perfectly with the council’s environmental policies and would much better reflect the wishes and needs of the local community.
As landowners of approximately 45% of the SMDA, Barratt Developments have shown leadership by meeting with us and discussing our concerns. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you too to discuss our concerns about this development. If the disastrous plans to develop this site were put aside Danes Moss could instead contribute to the climate and biodiversity aims of Cheshire East by becoming a natural carbon sink, a rich and biodiverse habitat and a green open space for the people of Macclesfield to enjoy for many generations to come. We have produced a vision of how this might be achieved and we look forward to having the opportunity to share this with you.
Concern about the proposed destruction of this rich and irreplaceable habitat has spread well beyond the boundaries of Cheshire East. The Save Danes Moss Community Group has support from well-known naturalists and scientists across the country, all of whom recognise the quality and importance of the site. As this movement grows it presents a real opportunity for the Council to demonstrate on a national stage how a forward-looking authority can tackle the twin challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss in an effective, imaginative and inclusive way.
We are writing to you in your role as the Chief Executive of the lead developer on this site and not as the planning authority. We are also writing directly to you as we are asking you personally to meet with us to discuss the future of Danes Moss.
I attach an information pack that gives more details of the unique importance of this site.
Chair – Save Danes Moss Community Group
Cheshire Wildlife Trust (2022) objection to reserved matters planning application 19/1796M on 7 January 2022
RoC Consulting (2021)‘South Macclesfield Development Area: Assessment of Peatland Carbon Status’.
Cheshire East Council (2020) ‘Environment Strategy 2020 – 2024’