CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save Danes Moss at Macclesfield and other peat lands from being developed have called on Cheshire East to remove several allocated housing sites from the local plan.

Thomas Eccles, chair of the Save Danes Moss campaign group, told Monday’s meeting of the environment and communities committee he was encouraged by some of comments made in a report referring to ambitions for the next local plan.

He quoted a statement from the report saying the new local plan should aim to protect peat lands and encourage their restoration.

But he said these were ‘really fine words’ which needed backing up by ‘equally fine actions’.

“The trouble is, at the minute, that Cheshire East’s environmental policies are in contradiction with some of their environmental ambitions,” said Mr Eccles.

“The previous local plan has allocated eight separate peat lands for various forms of development which necessarily means there will be extraction at those sites.

“It’s not just Danes Moss. Danes Moss is the biggest in Cheshire East, but there are plenty of others.”

He said the council’s current local plan policies were at complete odds with its ambition to reduce direct emissions by 16,298 tonnes.

Mr Eccles said an independent report commissioned by the council had shown 220,000 tonnes of CO2 would be released at Danes Moss if all the peat was excavated there for development.

“It’s clear this would destroy any ambitions for credible reductions in carbon emissions,” he said.

The council also came fire from one of its own councillors later in the meeting over the same issue.

Northwich Guardian: Cllr Chris O'LearyCllr Chris O'Leary (Image: Cheshire East Council)

Sutton councillor Chris O’Leary (Con), who is involved in the Save Danes Moss campaign, accused the council of currently ‘taking little action to protect peatland’.

In a statement read out by Cllr Janet Clowes on his behalf, Cllr Sutton asked ‘that the committee ensure that peatland sites are not included in the local plan without assessment of the scale of the peat deposits and that specific planning guidance is introduced to protect peatlands from development.

Head of planning David Malcolm said, in response to Cllr O'Leary's statement: "I think, quite rightly, as part of the consideration of the local plan, we will consider appropriate protections for peat lands, wetlands, the meres and mosses in light of the legislation."

No specific reference was made to sites already in the current plan.