Reader's Letter: Continuing problems on the Peat Bog

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When the Local Government Ombudsman found the Council guilty of maladministration in 2013 and said this maladministration should not persist we didn't expect to find ourselves in exactly the same situation seven years later.

As the LGO also said they couldn't find a causal link between the subsidence at Newgate Kennels and the peat extraction (even though every peat extraction site in Europe suffers from subsidence) the Council took that as a reason to do nothing.

Saltersley Common Preservation Society (SCPS) took advice from Giles Coppock QC and consulted with hydrogeologists whose results we now have. To no-ones surprise they have found a direct link between the extraction and the subsidence at the kennels. As a sluice and settling pond should have been installed in 2003 this no doubt helped in the lowering of the water table. This evidence is now with our solicitors as a writ is prepared against the operator.

Unfortunately, during the investigation, another problem has come to light. Those people who walk along Rotherwood Road will have noticed the oak trees leaning and eventually falling. The last one to fall was in 2019 and the residents of the White House (subsidence first reported to CCC in 1998) called Cheshire East Council (CEC) and an officer from the Public Rights of Way Network attended. He told the residents that the tree fell due to old age and as the roots were on their land the removal was their responsibility.

Everything about the tree showed it was in good health so SCPS called in an arboroculturalist to check the rest of the oak trees on Rotherwood Road. The conclusion was that the fallen tree was indeed healthy and the reason that tree and other trees are leaning and falling is because of the unstable ground conditions, no doubt caused by the fluctuating water table.

Had the sluice and settling pond been installed in 2003 this problem may not have arisen. As it is, CEC must look to solutions now before there is further subsidence to not only trees but other surrounding properties.

Photo: Julie Browning who lives at the White House on Rotherwood Road.

Tony Evans
Hon. Sec. Saltersley Common Preservation Society

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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Gerard Lee
Monday 8th June 2020 at 8:54 am
There are many trees suffering the same fate as that shown in the photograph- to the point of being dangerous to the public. One only has to look to the immediate west of the road to see the desolation caused by peat extraction. The great depth of the extraction, combined with the lack of retained water, would lead to the conclusion that shrinkage of the peat is the mail culprit. It has been strongly argued that CEC have continually ignored proper supervision of the site and have failed in their statutory duties. But no surprise there!
Keith Marsden
Monday 8th June 2020 at 11:18 am
One could be forgiven for thinking that Cheshire East actively support destruction of the natural world when you see what has happened on the peat bog and the current events at Saltersley Hall Farm
John Houghton
Monday 8th June 2020 at 12:56 pm
I often walk round this area and over time have seen the peat bog and the surrounding district becoming steadily worse in terms of water drainage and damage to the environment.I am at a loss to understand why the council have not taken the matter in hand and why they appear to allow this situation to get progressively worse.
John Dwyer
Monday 8th June 2020 at 3:52 pm
This natural disaster has been going on for years. Irreversible harm is being done to the local fauna and flora, while Cheshire East sit on their hands. The members of SCPS have been working tirelessly for years, and both they and the environment deserve better. It is a scandal.
Roger Bagguley
Wednesday 10th June 2020 at 6:47 am
The urgent need here is for the regeneration of the bog to becoming a natural wetland to begin. This is a condition for approving 14 houses on the workings site some 24 months ago. But there appears to be no developer interested so nothing happens and nobody can be held responsible. At RoW, and along with SCPS, we are scratching our heads as to how to overcome this. Clearly there is a need for money to be raised so that a way of getting the regeneration underway can be found.
Pete Taylor
Wednesday 10th June 2020 at 7:37 am
What needs to be done? Is it a matter of putting in the sluice gates which were called for ages ago, or has it become more serious than that?
Roger Bagguley
Wednesday 10th June 2020 at 1:04 pm
Pete

Phase one of the regeneration is to seal the holes in the bog to prevent further seepage of water. Only when the water table is returned to where it should be is the sluice gate and holding pond required. There will doubtless be some technicalities and legalities to be overcome but without money to back an alternative plan it will be pointless going to CEC. They will say they have approved 14 houses that will pay for the regeneration.

There is an on going issue with legal action pending. This is against Croghan Peat and involves CEC too as it is claimed the drying out of the bog is the cause of serious subsidence at the Newgate kennels and at the White House on Rotherwood. But this should not interfere with progress on regenerating the bog as the evidence is well recorded and is on going.
Carol Shawcross
Wednesday 10th June 2020 at 9:33 pm
This is a shocking situation and CEC should be held totally responsible it’s my understanding that it was them who were legally bound to inspect the peat extraction on a regular basis ensurung that Croghan Peat weren’t trashing this SSI (site of scientific interest). As far as I’m aware CEC failed to inspect and turned a blind eye to the horrendous condition of this precious area. In 2013 no action was taken to correct this situation, surely in 2020 they should be held accountable. Surely they cannot hide behind the “possibility” of a future developer of 14 houses agreeing to regenerate the SSI - it’s outrageous that CEC could use this argument as a solution! What can we do to bring them to justice?
Marcia McGrail
Friday 12th June 2020 at 7:04 pm
Isn't it a shocking state of affairs when residents, having assumed CEC portfolio and monitoring competencies, become aware that as far back as 2003, the best they came up with was a lot of sitting on hands? I could do that.
As has already been said, the residents deserve better.
Pippa Jones
Wednesday 17th June 2020 at 4:38 pm
Lindow Moss is a site of international historical, archeological and ecological importance. It is the find spot of Lindow Man, apparently the most visited exhibit in the British Museum, and a place that many local people love to visit. Restored peat bogs are one of nature’s most efficient carbon sinks, and the single best contribution we in Wilmslow could make to the battle against climate change is to restore the Moss. Unfortunately dried out, damaged mosses just extrude greenhouse gases. If we restored the Moss, it could be really beautiful, contribute to biodiversity and provide a place of peace and recreation. We in Transition Wilmslow are in complete agreement with Tony Evans that the continued drainage of water from the Moss is contributing very significantly to its current dreadful state, and simply installing a sluice gate to prevent all the rainwater running off into Sugar Brook would make an enormous difference. Dried out Mosses also pose a significant fire risk. There was a small fire a couple of weeks ago, and many people will remember the devastating fire in 2018.

Along with Tony Evans, Transition Wilmslow’s Lindow Moss Restoration Group is campaigning hard to get the water loss under control and to have the Moss restored. We do not want to see yet another year when the winter recharge of the water table goes to waste in a dry spring, and we want to see a permanent end to the threat of landfill “and return to agriculture” which still hangs over much of the Moss.
We are sufficiently concerned about continuing water loss that we have now commissioned another independent hydrogeology report to determine how much more water has drained from the Moss and how this can be reversed. The results will be available at later in the summer when we will share them widely.
Louise Wood
Thursday 18th June 2020 at 9:27 am
When I first came to Wilmslow a walk on " the bog" was a lifeline to me. Extraordinary, unusual setting, like nothing I had ever witnessed before. There were a few small-holdings with cattle and pigs.Horses in fields.Lovely lake at the far end.
To hear this has happened is no surprise. To affect other business is irresponsible.
Garry Olson
Tuesday 23rd June 2020 at 11:20 am
I live on Strawberry Lane which is a major route for walkers and cyclists to have access to the moss. During the lockdown I have witnessed hundreds of people going past every day. Cheshire East Council needs to understand the enormous importance of the area for recreation and the enjoyment of nature. For environmental, cultural and historical reasons it is the town's greatest asset. If it is not fully restored, and is used for landfill, they will be faced with fury and will never be forgiven
Anita Willoughby
Tuesday 23rd June 2020 at 3:59 pm
It has been established that Lindow Moss is unique in its history, is valued by residents, and is a response in waiting to the alternate heat and wet gathering pace right now. If Cheshire East find it without their power to oblige the landowner to begin the recovery process, would Crogan Peat give permission for the public to do it? We might then crowdfund to have the holes in the bog sealed and put the remains of the moss into a 'holding' situation.
Pete Taylor
Tuesday 23rd June 2020 at 5:04 pm
Anthony Evans
Monday 29th June 2020 at 3:26 pm
Latest news.
This morning a working party from Croghan Peat turned up and started taking peat away. When challenged, they said they were starting the restoration works and the material being trucked out wasn't peat anyway!
They are taking the peat from the north east corner, the very place which is suffering the worst from the lowering of the water table.
In the past it would have taken weeks for a reaction so many thanks to ROW for immediately getting involved.
At the time of writing we have divine intervention. The tractor is stuck!
Janice Mack
Saturday 4th July 2020 at 12:28 pm
I heartily agree with the majority of commenters on here, the peat bog is a precious resource for the residents of Wilmslow and also has enormous importance, environmentally, ecologically, historically and archeologically.
What I find hard to reconcile the our council's total lack of action to protect this site, both in 2003 when planning permission was given to dig peat along with 53 conditions which have been ignored by Crogham Peat. The replacement of the Sluice gates to preserve the water table and to allow the peat to be rewetted seems crucial to any restoration plan. This was supposed to be done before any restoration work started along with a vole count. CEC has confirmed that neither of these preparatory actions have been undertaken and no restoration plan has been submitted to CEC. This activity therefore by definition is not restoration. How do we get our elected representatives at CEC to do their duty by this precious site?

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