Lindow Man’s moss restored?

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Transition Wilmslow has been trying to raise awareness of the importance of the restoration of Lindow Moss for many years, and has written an optimistic vision of what it could look like if properly rewetted and restored.

Over the last few years, the prospects for restoration have looked very bleak at times, knowing that the planning conditions from 2003 ("fill with inert waste and return to agriculture") still applied. We supported the successful planning application of 2018 which allowed the building of 14 houses on the peat working site because it required Moss restoration to take place before construction and permanently removed the threat of landfill.

We have been hoping to see signs of a restoration programme since planning consent was granted in December 2018, but instead have watched as the Moss deteriorated as it dried out more and more each year. Imagine our surprise when notified yesterday that Moss restoration had begun, organised by the owners, Croghan Peat. The site manager told us that this was genuinely the start of the restoration programme, and the Moss will be restored as promised.

We are still urgently trying to get confirmation from CEC that this is really the case but it does sound as if this internationally renowned area of historic, archeological and ecological significance, and the find spot of Lindow Man, is at last beginning to be restored.

Professor Anthony Jones, from Transition Wilmslow's Lindow Moss Restoration Group says "if this is confirmed, it is a great day for the Moss. The planning conditions require the establishment of a Liaison Committee to ensure that the local community are fully engaged and informed of activities associated with this planning permission. Transition Wilmslow looks forward to supporting the restoration in every way. This is more than a peat bog, this is our cultural landscape."

If you would like to join us in helping to secure the future of Lindow Moss, email us on [email protected] and we will keep you up to date with progress.

Guest post by Pippa Jones.

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Comments

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

David Woodcock
Tuesday 30th June 2020 at 1:15 pm
Just as long as it isn't made into a reserve where local folk are fenced out.
Gerard Lee
Tuesday 30th June 2020 at 3:20 pm
I thought that one of the conditions prior to restoration work being started was to complete a survey of the Water Vole (protected species) habitat. Have CEC already fulfilled this condition given that work has started?
Rick Andrews
Wednesday 1st July 2020 at 9:15 pm
Would be interesting to see the plan details- is there a definition of restoration? It seems that nature is already reclaiming the site, hopefully heavy machinery and earth moving will
Not be involved.
Anthony Evans
Thursday 2nd July 2020 at 10:54 am
Like Transition Wilmslow, we at SCPS want to see the moss restored. Unlike Transition Wilmslow, after 20 years we know that Croghan Peat and Cheshire East are not above bending the truth.
In answer to Rick Andrew, heavy duty machinery and earth moving equipment has been in operation since Monday without any restoration plan. Which answers the question asked by Ged Lee. No, Condition 31, has not been discharged. We will start with that condition.

Prior to the commencement of the restoration works approved by condition 4, a five year Water Vole Management Scheme shall be submitted and approved in writing by the Mineral Planning Authority. The scheme shall cover the five year period of the physical restoration of the application site and shall include measures to:
Ensure that disturbance to the Water Vole Population within the application is minimised as far as during the restoration process
Provide continuity of habitat within the application site

To make sure we were reading it correctly we even asked a retired consultant with the Plain English Campaign to proof read it. He confirmed it was indeed Plain English!
CEC have confirmed that none of the conditions have been discharged but
it seems this is OK as the peat is being taken away (by the truckload) for analysis. That must be a hell of a big laboratory.
Checking with our hydrogeologist he confirms that the peat being taken away should ideally have been replaced in the ditches it was taken from. The first thing to do when re-wetting peatland is stop the water. To make sure he was right I checked with David Crawshaw who is working on the restoration of Chat Moss peat bog. Strangely he confirmed that our hydrogeologist is right! Just like all the information on Google. You do not take peat away. Where are CEC getting their info from?
For those who have followed the saga of the mess, the very place where the peat is being taken from is also where the underlying sand has been breached and is the source of the problem subsidence at Newgate Kennels. But that's OK as for 17 years both CCC and CEC have insisted it isn't the reason.
To sum it up, conditions have again been ignored, heavy duty plant is taking peat away (for analysis) and this morning CEC inform us that they won't be replying to all of our queries.
Katherine Hurll
Thursday 2nd July 2020 at 2:16 pm
It doesn’t look like restoration to me! It looks like extraction. The digger man tells me that the peat is heading for the depot where collection always took place.... and they are trashing the walkways in the process.
John Houghton
Friday 3rd July 2020 at 7:23 am
The situation seems a very odd way of restoration. I agree with the above observations it look more like a resumption of extraction. Is the Council observing the law? or have they gone to sleep?
Keith Marsden
Friday 3rd July 2020 at 9:43 am
Cheshire East seem very reluctant to monitor just what is going on at Lindow Moss. Why??
Vince Chadwick
Friday 3rd July 2020 at 11:14 am
Judging by what we read here, it seems Crogan Peat are driving a coach and four through the conditions imposed on them by Cheshire East, and Cheshire East are doing sweet FA about it. However, we never hear Crogan Peat's or CE's side of the story (if indeed there is another side to it), and their silence might be taken to imply guilt.

Can our local Councillors tell us just what is going on?
Janice Mack
Friday 3rd July 2020 at 1:23 pm
I think a lot of people here who feel sceptical about this alleged restoration are correct. I've been on the moss every day since work began on Monday 29th June and it is true to say that massive quantities of peat are being removed from the site by lorry. I have photographs.

I emailed Esther McVey and she is of the same opinion and also CE confirmed that no vole count has been carried out and neither have sluice gates been fitted to conserve the water. Both of these actions were conditional before restoration could start. I think this proves this is no restoration. Esther Mcvey has asked CE to put a stop on the work until these conditions are met. Clearly Croghan Peat intend to continue to ravage this landscape for their own gains and unless we put pressure on CE they will continue to sit on their hands. Why would they attach conditions to their planning decisions if they did not intend to enforce them? What is in it for them?
Pippa Jones
Friday 3rd July 2020 at 2:18 pm
We in Transition Wilmslow understand completely people’s concern about recent events on the peat bog and the future of Lindow Moss. Tony Evans’ scepticism is well placed, especially with regard to removal of peat. There is a real need both to put right some past mistakes and to go forward in a way which minimises disruption to the existing flora and fauna.
However, we have been in touch with the consultants who are managing events at Lindow. They confirm that this work is indeed a prelude to restoration and they tell us that the denatured peat is being removed purely to make restoration possible.
Once the peat bunds are clear it will be possible for them to do a topographic survey and to prepare a detailed restoration scheme for each compartment, as required by the 2018 planning consent.
The owners have confirmed ‘that they are committed to restoration and have no intention of backfilling the site.’ The next step will, we hope, be confirmation from Cheshire East Council that the planning requirements affecting the bog and peat farm site have been met. It’s at that point that the threat of landfill will be finally lifted and restoration can proceed.
Anthony Evans
Friday 3rd July 2020 at 2:26 pm
It's very difficult to get anything done when the deputy chief executive of Cheshire East writes that they cannot put a stop to illegal activities in case they are sued.
Peter Smith
Friday 3rd July 2020 at 5:52 pm
Living next door to Lindow Moss for many years, I have witnessed the devastation of the site first hand. It is clear that the recent removal of peat from the site is a for profit operation. If CEC or Croghan were serious about the restoration of the moss, a survey would have been carried out, a plan put in place and the relevant authorities notified. The very peat that is needed to restore the moss would not be removed. If Pippa Jones and Transition Wilmslow believe this is part of the restoration, they should take the time to visit some other restored peat bogs and see how it has been done before.
I ask anybody who feels that this devastation is wrong to lobby their council and MP.
Pete Taylor
Friday 3rd July 2020 at 9:24 pm
Any comment from the local, long-time, representative, Cllr Barton? Formally CEC and WTC; currently WTC.
Ray Byrne
Wednesday 8th July 2020 at 11:54 am
John Houghton asks "is the Council breaking the law & has it gone to sleep". I would say the answer to both questions is a resounding YES! What we need to know is, with whom are they in bed? Ray Byrne.