Objections raised over application for continued use of peat processing plant

A preservation society has objected to plans for the continued use of the peat processing and bagging plant and related buildings off Moor Lane.

Croghan Peat Industries, of Meare Somerset, own Wilmslow Peat Farm and have applied for an extension to the permission that allows them to process and store peat, which has been extracted on Lindow Moss.

Storage and maintenance of extraction, haulage and processing machinery is also carried out at the 1.685 hectares site, known as the 'peat processing area', which is located north of Moor Lane.

This application is for the renewal of planning permission 61345P, dated 17th April 2003, which expires on 17th April 2013, but the peat extraction planning permission does not require work to cease until 2042.

Croghan Peat Industries are applying for permission to continue the existing use for a further 10 years, followed by a restoration and aftercare scheme which must be submitted within 9 years of the date of the permission or 9 months prior to the cessation of operations on this site, whichever is the sooner.

Saltersley Common Preservation Society's have objected to this application.

Their objection states "In working this particular site the applicants have not demonstrated themselves to be fit and proper persons. They have not implemented the conditions attached to their permissions and as a direct consequence the protected habitat for water voles has been lost. More importantly, by failing to maintain water levels this has allowed the peat to dry out and the benefits of it as a carbon sink have been lost."

"As a consequence, this application should be looked at as the one to further extend the transgressions already experienced and should be strongly objected. This is reinforced by the fact that the processing and bagging plant has not been used for the last 10 years and is unlikely to be used now as the peat won from Wilmslow is extremely low grade and needs sweetening with other sources, even for basis uses. This presents two options.

"Firstly, that any peat won from the site would be exported from the site to one of better quality peat, as happens at present. More likely, permission to retain and extend the consent period for peat processing and bagging plant would involve importing peat from other sources, probably abroad. The Government has no power to stop imports from outside the UK."

Wilmslow Town Council has submitted the following comment "The Planning Committee would highlight to the Planning Officer concerns expressed by local residents that the existing conditions are not currently being complied with, and would ask that this be taken into consideration in determining this application."

The planning application 13/0842W can be viewed on the Cheshire East Council website by searching for planning reference 13/0842W. The deadline for comments is 4th April 2013 and a decision is expected to be made by 24th April 2013.

Croghan Peat Industries, Lindow Common, Lindow Moss, Planning Applications, Saltersley Common Preservation Society, Wilmslow Peat Farm


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

Pippa Jones
Tuesday 2nd April 2013 at 8:21 pm
Many thanks to the Saltersley Common Preservation Society for raising this important issue, and to WTC for making clear the concerns of local residents. The Common has been allowed to dry out by the peat extractors and the conditions that they were asked to comply with have not been met. Lindow Moss/Saltersley Common is an area of outstanding scientific and historical interest and its degradation over the years is depressing and disheartening. Further extraction permissions will only make matters worse: we should be trying to rescue it not make it worse! I would endorse the comments made and encourage everyone with an interest to respond to the planning application online.
Drew Donaldson
Tuesday 2nd April 2013 at 11:57 pm
The equation is easy. Water Voles v Men's Jobs......I know what I shall be supporting.....
Vince Chadwick
Wednesday 3rd April 2013 at 9:46 am
Croghan Peat have an appalling hsitory of completely ignoring the conditions set for peat extraction at Lindow. That they then seek this further permission while still not addressing the conditions already set (those conditions to mitigate Crogan's severe damage to a delicate environment) would be mere arrogance were it not more worrying that their lack of compliance shows contempt for the planning process and indifference to the environment.

Peat bogs like Lindow are one of the most scarce environments on earth - far more so that rain forests. As peat is extracted not only is the direct environment lost, but the water table falls (peat holds water) and the surrounding moss land dries out. This is the method by which this increasingly rare envoronment is being lost.

Many decades ago in less enlightened times permission to extract peat from the site was granted for a considerable time into the future. Back then, extraction was largely manual (men digging!), but Croghan use powerful excavators which has greatly accellerated the rate of extraction.

Today, we are better educated than were those who granted that permission. It is ludicrous to even consider that this application should be granted, for all the reasons above.
Patrick Prinsloo
Wednesday 3rd April 2013 at 10:40 pm
Water voles vs men's jobs: it's all mechanical digging. It used to be men with shovels and barrows, but no longer. It wouldn't take much to generate jobs and economic benefits for the local area from a restored moorland if we chose to go down that route.
Drew Donaldson
Thursday 4th April 2013 at 12:17 pm
What a wonderful World we live in..... Save the Water Voles, Save the Peat Bogs, Save the Environment. Lose existing jobs in some forlorn hope other jobs may be created. Waken up people.... Our country is in the doo-doos. Are you happy to promote a stance where people will lose their jobs, their dignity, claim welfare, all for the sake of your principles?
David Wood
Thursday 4th April 2013 at 12:56 pm
The Peat Farm for the last 20years or so employed one man who has now retired , natural wastage , a good time to review the whole operation . The increase in vehicle sizes since the origional license was granted is having a detrimental effect on the local infrastructure , big waggons equal big potholes forget the voles save your suspension.
Rob Sawyer
Thursday 4th April 2013 at 1:11 pm
I agree with Patrick and David: I think that the Lindow Peat Farm employed/employs 2 or 3 people - to me the damage to this area (from the current extraction methods -i.e. a big digger) is disproportionate for such small local economic return. The site owners, Croghan, do not appear to have a good track record in this location so here is an opportunity to say enough is enough - and save some of the Moss before it really is too late.
Lindow Moss really was a treasure when I was growing up - an became famous internationally when "Lindow Pete" was found in 1984. The website http://www.lindowmoss.org.uk has lots of information about the area.
Drew Donaldson
Thursday 4th April 2013 at 2:53 pm
Let's not conflate the various arguments in an attempt to prove the point. Firstly, a man has retired so it is ok to lose the job. No it is not! The unemployment rate of those between the ages of 16 to 24, is over 20%. Secondly, increased vehicle size is a benefit. Why? Because the same amount of peat can be moved in fewer truck movements. Surely that is a good thing. Thirdly, large truck axle weight distribution means less weight on the road per axle, not more. Finally, if you have a problem with potholes contact Cheshire East Council. There is a very good article elsewhere on the Wilmslow.co.uk website and yes you can claim compensation. Potholes are not, and never will be, the responsibility of Croghan Peat Industries.
Patrick Prinsloo
Thursday 4th April 2013 at 10:09 pm
Drew, As you say, there is a high unemployment rate for people between the ages of 16 and 24. And in other age groups. So what we know is that the system is busted. And probably not fixable. We need to think about doing things differently and changing what happens in that area from a fairly destructive, low employment model into something which contributes to our overall well-being and brings more jobs and more wealth to our town is not a bad place to start. And why shouldn't the workers currently employed on the site be part of this?
Dave Cash
Friday 5th April 2013 at 3:35 am
Water voles are a protected species, peat workers are not.
How many local unemployed 16-24 yo's have applied for the vacanr position?
Permissions should be revoked if conditions are not adhered to, Indeed some developers/owners have had buildings demolished because roof lines etc exceeded spec.
If I remember correctly, access roads in this area are limited to 7.5 tonnes 'except for access'.
The lower water table caused by peat extraction, has affected many properties in SW Wilmslow to some degree, due to local geology.
Many garden centres/gardeners shun natural peat in favour of suitable synthetic alternatives and local residents no longer use peat burning fires for heat/cooking..
If Croghan decided to relinquish the site, the brownfield 'peat treatment area' could be used for 'n' houses and the extraction area re-instated as greenfield, poss SSSI.
Even Brazil have realised that tourist ecology in the Amazon rain forest can be more productive than commercial farming.
Rejection of this planning application could result in Croghan re-evaluating their tenure of the site.
Drew Donaldson
Friday 5th April 2013 at 11:00 am
What a sanctimonious statement. It borders on the crass. I hope you are proud of what you have committed for all to see and read......
Rob Sawyer
Tuesday 9th April 2013 at 1:44 pm
On the economic debate - One interesting piece of feedback is from another local business: Newgate Kennels Ltd.. They have who have objected on the grounds of the bog de-watering causing the land around their buildings to "shrink" by 50cm . Repair costs would be considerable...
In addition to lindowmoss.org.uk There is a Twitter feed about Lindow Moss for anyone interested - #LindowMoss