Hello, everyone, we have some bad news and some good news.
- Bad: Cheshire East Council have given us a disappointing response to our 7,000+ signature petition.
- Good: Oh well… join us for a drink, catch-up and local art auction at RED WILLOW in Macclesfield on Tuesday 26 September 2023 from 19:00pm.
Here’s the full story…
Thanks to our fantastic allies – The Cheshire Wildlife Trust – we jointly demanded that (1) the South Macclesfield Development Area planning applications should be rejected by the Council and (2) that the entire site should be removed from the areas allocated for housing under the Cheshire East Local Plan.
More than 7,000 of your signatures took these demands directly to the council and we handed in the petition on 15th July. Under the Council’s Constitution, at least 5,000 signatures are required for a petition to be considered for debate at a full council meeting. That’s what we were hoping for. A discussion from a council that claims to be ‘Open, Fair and Green.’ Did we hope too much?
Turns out we did. A debate on the petition has been down-sized and delayed. There will be no debate at Full Council involving most councillors. Instead, the petition will be considered as evidence by members of a planning committee… and that’s only if these planning applications ever make it to committee. If we do end up in that situation, at least we can use the petition to demonstrate the strength of feeling against this mad development plan.
Our demand that Cheshire’s precious peatlands be taken out of the Local Plan has also been stalled.
Here’s how that went:
“In terms of the new Cheshire East Local Plan, this is at a very early stage in its development. Presently there is no opportunity to make any representations to it.”
The council claimed that since the government is considering reforms to the planning system we will have to wait until well into 2024. That means Cheshire’s peatlands remain undervalued and unprotected from developers. What does that mean in reality? Peatlands are our biggest store of carbon on land. They are one of the rarest habitats on the planet – 3% of the planet’s land surface is peatland but it’s still the biggest carbon store on land. They are places that are already home to millions of our wild fellow creatures who cannot survive anywhere else. And we are witnessing their continued destruction throughout Cheshire.
There’s nothing in the Council’s policies that protects peatlands from being built on as we have seen at Henbury (Long Moss) and Wilmslow (Lindow Moss). Nearly four years since the Council declared a ‘Climate Emergency’ nothing substantial has changed. Inertia and delusion define the council’s attitude towards peatlands. Incredibly, planning officers still claim that the loss of our peatlands can be “balanced” against the economic and social benefits of destroying them.
Here’s a direct quote from planning officer, Mr Robert Law, speaking to the Strategic Planning Board on 26 July. He was asked by Cllr Mary Brooks how the council could possibly mitigate the damage done by developments on peat. His response:
“They still will and have resulted in the extraction of peat and the release of carbon and their impact on climate change. They have to balanced – and is what happens when we confirm them – they have to be balanced by the other benefits of those schemes in terms of securing much needed housing and delivering other allocated sites within Macclesfield. So, yes there is harm but we’ve tried to balance that harm against other benefits.”
Is it all just a game?
Are we living in a climate emergency or not? Are we serious about trying to preserve a future for children and wildlife or not? Sadly, the council is giving us every indication that they are putting the interests of development ahead of our environment and survival.
Well, we’re not giving up. Mark our words. Not another inch of Danes Moss is going to get built on, drained or destroyed as long as we’re around.
Come and talk to us about Danes Moss. Join us for an update on the campaign with Q&A and a local art auction at RED WILLOW bar in Macclesfield on Tuesday 26 September from 19:00pm.
FULL RESPONSE FROM CHESHIRE EAST COUNCIL
14th August, 2023
“Thank you for submitting your petition to Cheshire East Council which requests that the Council rejects the South Macclesfield Development Area and withdraws the Dane Moss site from the Local Plan.
In accordance with the petitions scheme, a petition which achieves 5000+ signatures will be referred to the relevant service committee for consideration. I can confirm that, having reviewed your petition, it meets the signature criteria. However, the subject of the petition concerns planning matters which have yet to be determined and so care must be taken to ensure that any future decisions in relation to the South Macclesfield Development Area or the Local Plan review are not prejudiced by any premature discussions.
As there are a number of live planning applications for the site, the appropriate route for the petition would be as a representation through the planning application process i.e., as part of the overall assessment of the relevant planning application, which will be presented to a future planning committee. For advice on how, and when you can submit your petition, please click on this link:
In terms of the new Cheshire East Local Plan, this is at a very early stage in its development. Presently there is no opportunity to make any representations to it. The Council’s intended programme for preparing the Plan is set out in the latest Local Development Scheme https://www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/ planning/spatial-planning/ cheshire_east_local_plan/ local_development_scheme.aspx, which will change in light of emerging national planning reforms.
As the reforms will radically alter the way in which local plans are prepared, it is not possible to give you any firm dates yet to when the various consultation stages will be, however the first opportunity to make representations may be well into 2024.”