Calls to save Irlam greenbelt

Article published: Wednesday, January 26th 2011

Campaigners from Save Our North West Green Belt have called for people to object to new  planning application for peat extraction on land owned by Peel Holdings before the deadline tomorrow. William Sinclair Horticulture Limited have submitted a revised application to Salford City Council to continue extracting peat for another 15 years,  after having its Environment Statement rejected last August 2010.

Peat extraction at the Chat Moss site in Irlam, Salford has already been the subject of several protests  by climate campaigners, local environmentalists and conservationists, as well as and objections from a host of organisations including the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and Merseyside, Natural England, the Environment Agency and the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit.  Concerns range from the release of large amounts of carbon emissions from the peat when it is drained and extracted, as well as the loss of biodiversity areas within the Greenbelt.  The final deadline for objections to the planning application is Thursday 27th January.

Sinclair Horticulture’s current licence to extract peat expired at the end of 2010.   Local Salford councillors are opposed to continued peat extraction, and in May 2010 were considering a ban in their ‘Core Strategy’ – a key planning document.  Salford City Council are currently considering whether to publish this document this year, or whether to conduct further consultation.

Jackie Anderson from Save Our North West greenbelt said, “I want people to continue providing their objections and supporting the campaign against peat extraction on Chat Moss.  This campaign will continue at a pace if and when Sinclair appeal against Salford Council’s decision to reject the planning application. That is on the presumption that Salford City Council will abide by their promise to reject the application.”

Local Labour MP for Worsley and Eccles South Barbara Keeley is also opposed to the plans.

This is not the first time that owners of the site Peel Holdings’ environmental record has been in the spotlight. Earlier this month they were the subject of a protest from local residents and environmental campaigners opposed to their plans to build an incinerator at Barton. The Breathe Clean Air Group say that the plant will emit a “cocktail of pollutants” towards Salford.

Peat extraction in the UK causes 3 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year in the UK according to Natural England.  In July 2010, activists from Manchester Climate Action were acquitted of charges following a protest action which stopped extraction in April 2010.  Local campaigners have conducted a wildlife study on land next to the current extraction site and used their findings in their submissions to the Council objected to the plans.  They argue that the land should be made a nature reserve.

Salford Council will decide on the application at a late planning hearing in late February or early March 2011.  Sinclairs are expected to appeal any decision against the application.  The company has also submitted a separate application for pat extraction at another site in Wigan Council.

Anderson continued, “Chat Moss is on greenbelt land and the Moss should be returned to its natural state and to provide the carbon sink benefit to the inner city of Salford and Manchester that is such a vital environment resource for our healthy futures”.

Robbie Gillett

Details of how to object can be found on the Wildlife Trust website.

More: Manchester, News


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