On Wednesday, 6th May, wilmslow.co.uk printed an article headed Cheshire East Council Agrees Carbon Neutral Plan. One of the proposals was to provide opportunities to capture carbon through tree planting and restoring degraded peatlands. Very credible.
Forward to Sunday, 7th June and Saltersley Common Preservation Society (SCPS) wrote a letter to the website headed 'Continuing problems on the peat bog'. These problems have resulted in the loss of oak trees along Rotherwood Road which borders the bog to the east. Our hydrogeologist and arboroculturalist have put this down to the continued dewatering of the bog. What a shame no-one from Cheshire East Planning Department has taken time to read these articles.
On Monday, 29th June, heavy duty machinery appeared on the bog and started moving large quantities of peat to the yard. When challenged, a representative from Croghan Peat told us it wasn't really peat and that this was the start of the restoration process.
A quick check of the conditions applied when the application for housing was granted in December 2018 showed that Condition 31 had been ignored. Briefly, this says that before any restoration work starts a Water Vole Protection Scheme must be submitted to the MPA and approved in writing.
Three emails to CE planning department and we got the quick response that this hadn't been received. A further question about the restoration plan elicited the reply that this hadn't been received either.
SCPS were not surprised by any of this as it was a familiar story. In 2003, when the then CCC and Croghan agreed the original set of conditions for peat extraction, the Water Vole Protection Scheme was submitted then totally ignored. And why is the bog still subsiding? Because the Sluice Control Structure and Settling Pond Scheme,also in the conditions, were never discharged either.
And where is the worst of the subsidence and the falling trees occurring. Alongside Rotherwood Road where the peat is now being taken away with the knowledge of CEC.
CEC still claim that the peat is being taken removed for analysis before restoration starts. Absolute tosh. The peat taken away (which isn't really peat) should have been put back in the ditches it was taken from (see every re-wetting scheme). And if CEC had examined documents SCPS have submitted over the years they should have seen the report showing the peat to be of poor quality anyway. And that peat was sent to The Soil Association in a small box, not huge lorry loads.
Apart from releasing huge quantities of CO2 into the air, the subsidence will worsen and more trees are at risk. Currently, Newgate Kennels and The White House are pursuing legal claims against Croghan Peat although there can be no doubt that CEC must take some blame for allowing the situation to worsen.
Responsibility for the restoration and aftercare must be taken away from CEC and put in the hands of experts before there is nothing left to save. They have proved their incompetence.
Photo: Todays pile of peat. Are they going to put it back?