Reader's Letter: More trouble for Newgate Kennels

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The photo above was taken on April 20th., 2021. It clearly shows the current status at Newgate Kennels with massive ongoing subsidence. We are aware that there are further properties in the area that are also having problems but this picture really does tell a story.

Cheshire County Council were first alerted to the problem in 1997 when a Hydrological report was submitted to CCC by The Environmental Consultancy of the University of Sheffield. It said this situation could be expected if peat extraction continued, unless mitigation measures were put in place.

Unfortunately, despite fine words from CCC, the conditions they assured us would be 'rigorously enforced' in 2003 were allowed to be ignored by the extractor, Croghan Peat. Over the years Saltersley Common Preservation Society (SCPS) have commissioned various reports in an effort to bring some sort of control to the continued destruction of the peat bog allowed by CCC, CEC and Croghan Peat Ltd.

These include two reports by Derek Gow, foremost UK authority on Water Voles, who said on his last visit 'I have never seen a site so comprehensively trashed'. An arboricultural report to investigate why so many oak trees are leaning and falling on Rotherwood Road; this is because of constant fluctuations in the water table. And finally an hydrogeological report which disproved the biggest lie that CEC have used.

They have always said it couldn't be proved that the subsidence was caused by the peat extraction. They even used this excuse when found guilty of maladministration by the Local Government Ombudsman in 2012. Every report has been ignored.

We now have a situation where, at a Strategic Planning Board meeting in December 2019, they presented spurious evidence in favour of granting planning permission for 14 houses to Croghan Peat Ltd., the very company they have allowed to destroy the peat bog. Evidence that directly contradicted UK Deformation figures showing massive subsidence on and around the peat bog and contained in the hydrogeological report.

Now, whilst Croghan Peat, CEC and the proposed builder argue about the size of the houses, the water table drops further, drying out the peat taking with it the surrounding land. Meanwhile, Newgate Kennels (employer of over 40 locals) struggle to keep their buildings safe for use at great expense. They have issued a notice of a claim against Croghan Peat for nuisance but this is being stonewalled. Probably in the hope that they (Croghan) will offload their responsibilities beforehand.

Anthony Evans
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
Tuesday 4th May 2021 at 4:09 pm
I thought that Transition Wilmslow have said that the bog is being restored by Croghan Peat as part of the development deal? Rather too late of course for the Kennels and the nationally protected water voles. However, I have not seen much evidence of this 'restoration' work. What is the schedule for this work? Are there any plans we could see? How much money is being put into this project?
John Dwyer
Tuesday 4th May 2021 at 6:12 pm
I took an afternoon walk on the peat bog recently and was shocked at the sad state it is in - especially the dried up ditches where in the past I have often heard water voles ‘sploshing’ in the water. Now the ditches are silent, dry and overgrown. I am not an expert, but I have to agree with the expert Derek Gow that the site has been ‘comprehensively trashed’.
Keith Marsden
Tuesday 4th May 2021 at 6:30 pm
Why has a series of condemnatory reports simply been ignored? Peat bogs are really important carbon sinks and their destruction contributes to the greenhouse effect by releasing a large volume of carbon dioxide. The Council’s attitude to what has gone on at Lindow Moss is truly shameful
Peter Davenport
Wednesday 5th May 2021 at 10:10 am
Dear All
Such incompetence by the Council, its staff and councillors , supposedly in charge, and also the total lies, which tarnishes the reputation of the council, in any private business would have been sacked for total mismanagement, and deservedly so. The number of lies that we are told by the council, have got to the stage, where a clean sheet is necessary, all redacted reports published, and other matters, where it is said, "we do not show the contracts and quotes", which makes one think WHY????
Peter Davenport
Sarah Kennon
Wednesday 5th May 2021 at 3:52 pm
The only thing to do now is use your vote tomorrow to oust the CEC council out and get others who are more responsible than this crummy lot. The parking in wilmslow also springs to mind.
David Smith
Wednesday 5th May 2021 at 7:28 pm
SARAH KENNON:
Please pay more attention!
The elections on 06 May 2021 in this neck of our [thinning, dying off and sparse] woods are not for Cheshire East councillors but for the Town Council & the Police Commissioner.
I am, however, heartened by your apparent enthusiasm for what might be described in the USA as 'ass kicking' and suggest you polish your boots, tighten your laces and get kicking.
If you are unsure as whose ‘ass’ to kick and where they might be hiding the following link will be really useful.
https://moderngov.cheshireeast.gov.uk/ecminutes/mgMemberIndex.aspx?bcr=1
If you are in the Lacey Green ward, your councillor is Don Stockton who has been a councillor since 2008 and so should have quite a bit of experience of what has been going on at the Lindow peat bog. In the distant past, I remember him doing a supportive doorstep visit with our then MP Neil Hamilton [of the brown envelope fame] when he was after general election votes and so could have been interested in local politics way back in the 80’s when peat extraction was well under way - Lindow Man was found in 1982. Send Don an email to ask anything you might wish to know he could be your man.
Pippa Jones
Wednesday 5th May 2021 at 7:34 pm
I can't comment on the really worrying issue of the subsidence at the Kennels as I don't have the expertise to do so, but I am a member of Transition Wilmslow and as Gerard says, we said last year that restoration was due to go ahead this year after we were told by the owners, Croghan Peat, that Bowden Homes had bought the old peat farm site for housing. You can see the relevant planning applications on the CEC planning portal, 15/0016M for the housing and 15/0064M for the bog restoration. The two applications are linked, so that once the house building starts, the restoration should start too. At the end of last year, Bowden Homes submitted an amendment to 15/0016M to request changes including increasing the size of the houses. This application is 20/5271M and is online with the responses to the application from organisations like Transition Wilmslow and local residents. Many of the comments relate to concerns about drainage and we understand that this application is still under consideration by CEC planners.
Jeff Clarke (@anserecology) is the ecologist undertaking surveys on the Moss just now, which presumably will feed into the restoration plans and we assume this means that the restoration should begin later in the year.
Last year, we did a survey of 431 local residents who visit the Moss. 99.3% wanted more clarity from CEC about the restoration and 98.6% wanted local residents to be consulted in the plans for restoration. The free text comments show the value of the Moss to local people and are available at https://transitionwilmslow.co.uk/lindow-moss/
There is so much potential for the engagement of the whole community on a restored Lindow Moss, a site of enormous historical, archaeological and environmental significance. Part of the planning consent includes the formation of a Liaison Committee to foster good communication between residents, CEC and the owners of the Moss. Let’s hope CEC establish that committee, with real local representation, as soon as possible. If anyone would like to attend our next Lindow Moss Community Forum meeting in June, please let me know at
Iain Macfarlane
Thursday 6th May 2021 at 7:03 am
Dear all

Pippa Jones from Transition Wilmslow rightly mentions that there has been a very long history of neglect and inaction over the destiny of Lindow Moss.

I am the local councillor working on this urgent restoration project and I and many residents are waiting for the imminent decision on planning application 20/5271M from Cheshire East Council. If approved, work on building these 14 houses can begin on Lindow Moss Peat Farm at the western end of Moor Lane.

An agreement with Bowden Homes would then trigger the "signing off" of a number of planning conditions between Cheshire East Council (who are the Minerals Planning Authority) and the current owners of Lindow Moss which must happen before any work on restoring the peat bog can begin. Transition Wilmslow and other community action groups will certainly be involved in this detailed and complex restoration process.

We all want Lindow Moss returned to the raised natural wetland which it was many thousands of years ago but we have to be patient and wait for events to unfold.

Iain Macfarlane
Cheshire East Council
Wilmslow West & Chorley
Simon Rodrigues
Thursday 6th May 2021 at 10:28 am
Very sad and I feel the biggest problem her is £ and the even bigger problem CEC who feel that leasing out contracts at an extra expense to the CT payer. Their new strategy is to sub contract the works, which in my opinion leaves scope for undisclosed fraud. Often companies are newly formed and months later or when a problem occurs the firm closes down taking thousands of Tax payers money with them. Contracts should only be given to established companies of more than 4 years. This prevents fraud and the chance of a friend or family member setting up a business to fit in with the contract and gain from tax payers money. This has happened in the past but before most things are made very public they resign often taking payout and pensions again at Tax Payers expense this is wrong and i believe criminal. This is my opinion and perception of the facts.... how is this acceptable i ask myself!
John Dwyer
Thursday 6th May 2021 at 11:24 am
Pippa Jones advocates meetings and consultations with CEC and Croghan Peat, but these are only worthwhile if all parties are honest and above board. The track record for CEC and Croghan Peat does not fill me with confidence because, as I understand it, they have been devious and less than truthful for more than 20 years.
Transition Wilmslow have also issued misleading information on this website when they claimed that restoration work had already started, which was not the case.
John Harries
Thursday 6th May 2021 at 11:29 am
I regularly visited the Bog and the Common from the mid 1950's being (then a junior) member of the Wilmslow Naturalist Society. Low level peat extraction then undertaken non-commercially by residents and commercially on a small scale by a local entrepreneur - it was 'managed'.
CEC (in succession to Cheshire County Council [CCC], apparently the Minerals Planning 'authority' in this issue) should have taken the present site owners (Crohgan Peat) to court years ago for wilful damage/neglectful usage of the land - and meantime suspended their licence to legally extract peat. There is a dialogue of evidence to support mis-management of extraction rights (and undermining of efforts to measure/police that evidence). Instead they either ignored (or perhaps conspired) to allow them to go their merry profitable way?
What is being debated here/now is the result of a hapless council (CEC) being held to ransom - by an already discredited (but for some unfathomable reason, un-pursued) dodgy business operation - subsequently seeking to obtain planning permission on a protected site for commercial gain (in part to fund obligatory restitution work). In simple terms, "if you don't allow us to build X, we will leave the site (for a further 10-20 years, someone here will no doubt tell us the exact term) to rot (sink and dry out)" and "we will not meantime restitute the land" (using their own funding as owners Crohgan would be obliged to do).
If the arm twisting didn't work it doesn't take rocket science to suppose Crohgan could be otherwise long gone as an entity - CEC could have done something to prevent that, but they didn't bother.
You simply couldn't make it up. It's an environmental, ecological and historically important disaster area - and CEC, the people we pay to manage the County, (the Minerals Planning Authority!!) allowing it to happen. Not only that, they are daft enough to roll over and and grant planning permission to the land owner for housing to built (and funding to raised from a developer, Bowdon Homes) on otherwise protected but environmentally trashed land - that is CEC adding insult to injury and Crohgan Peat getting away with highway robbery and vandalism - two fingers up to everybody and laugh all the way to the bank.
Well done CEC....
John Houghton
Thursday 6th May 2021 at 1:59 pm
The situation at the kennels is appalling, Why hasn't the Council sorted this out? What are they waiting for? Surely either the peat extractors or the Council should come forward and offer to pay for the damage.
Simon Worthington
Thursday 6th May 2021 at 4:05 pm
And our council climate experts have the nerve to lecture the rest of us!! Oust the lot ASAP.
Like some others in charge criminal charges could be coming your way!
Anthony Evans
Thursday 6th May 2021 at 6:20 pm
In answer to John Houghton, a letter before claim was issued to Croghan Peat 10 months ago but so far, apart from asking for more details, no substantive response has been received. This is par for the course for this company but CEC seem to think they can do business with them.
The owners of Croghan Peat Ltd., are Mr. Rowland and Mr. Bond who also own E.J. Godwin Peat Supplies, among other companies, and are based in Meare, Somerset.
They are just as unpopular because of their activities there as well as in Wilmslow.
Marcia McGrail
Thursday 6th May 2021 at 8:36 pm
Peat extraction is only viable because people buy it. Stop it.

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