APPLICATION No: 10/58824/FULEIA
APPLICANT: William Sinclair Horticulture Ltd
LOCATION: Chat Moss Peat Works, Land North West Of Twelve Yard Road
PROPOSAL: Variation of Condition 1 of Planning Permission 91/28449/FUL to
allow the Extraction of Peat until 31st December 2025 with
restoration to be completed by 31st December 2027
APPLICATION No: 10/58825/FULEIA
APPLICANT: William Sinclair Horticulture Ltd
LOCATION: Chat Moss Peat Works, Land North West Of Twelve Yard Road
PROPOSAL: Variation of Condition 2 and 9 of Planning Permission
97/37333/FUL To allow the Extraction of Peat until 31 December
2025 with restoration to be completed by 31st December 2027, and
to amend the working hours to 07:00 - 1900
APPLICATION No: 10/58826/FULEIA
APPLICANT: William Sinclair Horticulture Ltd
LOCATION: Chat Moss Peat Works, Land North West Of Twelve Yard Road
PROPOSAL: Variation of Condition 1 of Planning Permission 91/28450/FUL to
allow the Extraction of Peat until 31st December 2025 with
restoration to be completed by 31st December 2027
The proposal regards the variation of planning conditions through the submission of three
section 73 applications.
An application under section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 is an application
for a further planning permission, although it is commonly referred to as an application to vary
conditions. If an application is granted it results in an additional and separate planning
permission. The Act states that in applying S73 the Council is limited to considering the
conditions to which permission should be granted. However in this particular case where the
effect of granting the application would be to allow the development to “continue” when it would
otherwise have to cease it is proper to consider whether it is appropriate for the development to
continue beyond the period set in the previous permissions. The Council can have regard to
changes in circumstances which could make it inappropriate for development to continue
beyond the period set in the original planning permissions.
Members will recall that a report on these applications was previously brought in front of the
Planning and Regulatory Panel on the 25th of May 2011. That report and recommendation was
based on the details submitted by the applicant, the responses received from all consultees and
third party representations, assessment against the development plan and other material
planning considerations, prior to the receipt of additional information on the afternoon of Friday
20th May 2011.
Determination of the application was deferred on the advice of officers and legal representation
to allow proper consideration of the additional information submitted pursuant to the
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations and to publicise its contents as required.
Panel did resolve to defer the matter to a special meeting on the 6th June 2011 to coincide with
the expiration of the temporary stop notice which prohibits the winning of working of peat,
however this meeting was subsequently postponed to allow sufficient time for the re-
consultation and publicity of the revised information so that all comments could be fully taken
For clarity the period for the receipt of comments in relation to the revised environmental
information expired on 23rd June 2011.
Members are advised that this report is based on information received and assessed where
required up to the point of its publication prior to the Panel meeting on the 30th June 2011.
Description of Site and Surrounding Area
The area known as ‟12 Yards Road‟ or „Chat Moss‟ is a peat extraction site covering a total of
90 hectares, located north of Twelve Yards Road, on Cutnook Lane in Irlam. Although worked
as one site by one operator, the site has 5 planning permissions – 2 are in Wigan and 3 are in
Salford. It is the 3 permissions in Salford that are the subject of this report and will be referred
to collectively throughout
The extraction boundaries cover approximately 61 hectares and are currently used for the
extraction of peat. An additional 14 hectares is in restoration at the present time being returned
to Sphagnum bog, which is the natural state. This restoration area is a broad strip running north
west/south east and is located immediately east of the active peat working area. There is an
additional 15 hectares which is in a state of informal restoration which is located within the
southern portion of the site
The northern limit of extraction is defined by the Liverpool - Manchester railway line which
separates this peat extraction site from peat and sand/gravel operations to the north located at
Astley Moss. The southern limit of extraction is effectively defined by Twelve Yards Road,
although only one of the smaller permissions to the south east actually abuts this road.
The site is covered by a number of planning permissions, although there is no marker on the
ground to distinguish individual permissions, the site is being operated as ' one site' with peat
extraction taking place on a rotational basis. A description of the permission areas is given
The largest of the three sections of the site which lie within Salford is located to the east of the
Wigan/Salford administrative boundary and is covered by permission reference 91/28449/FUL
which was granted in 1994. This permission area includes the restoration area known as the
Twelve Yards Road SBI, which runs in a broad strip adjacent to the eastern limit of the
To the south west of 91/28449/FUL lies permission 91/28450/FUL which was granted at the
same time. This permission lies to the south of the Wigan/Salford administrative boundary and
extends south towards Twelve Yards Road. The main access to the site forms the eastern
boundary of this portion of the site. The southernmost portion of this area has been worked out,
to leave below 2m depth of peat and is presently in an informal state of restoration, with no
agreed plan being in place for the restoration of the site, this area however does form part of the
Agricultural land lies to the south and west of these two permissions with, woodland adjoining to
The smallest of the section of the site within Salford is covered by permission reference
97/37333/FUL which was granted in 1998. The site is situated to the south east of the largest
section and is better distinguished as forming a 'big toe' to the central areas of peat extraction.
Woodland lies to the north and west of this permission, Twelve Yards Road is immediately to
Permissions in Wigan
Immediately to the north west of the Salford sections of the site are two permissions for
extraction which are within Wigan. These sections are covered by two permissions which adjoin
residential properties on Astley Road. The largest of these permissions – A36475/91 wraps
around the eastern end of a belt of dwellings located off Astley Road.
The southern and eastern boundaries of this permission adjoin in Salford‟s permissions
91/28450/FUL and 91/28449/FUL respectively, with the northern boundary adjoining the
The smaller of these permissions – A31651/89 adjoins the larger permission, to the east and
adjoins residential properties off Astley Road to the north.
Other Permissions -17-3-1167
The Chat Moss site also comprises a permission located to the west of permission reference
91/28450/FUL and south of Wigan permission reference A31651/89.
The permission dates back to 1963 (17-3-1167) and is an historic permission. Whilst this site is
not the subject of the current applications, this portion of the site is operated in accordance with
the conditions of the more recent planning permissions on the site albeit this is done voluntarily.
An area within the western portion of this site has been worked to leave below 2m in depth of
remaining peat. Agricultural land lies to the north, south and west of this permission area.
The majority of the site, with exception to the restoration area, known as the Twelve Yards Road
SBI is under active peat extraction, with operations which involve the milling of the top layer of
the peat taking place between April and September. As stated above, there is also a portion of
the site, to the south of the site covered by permission reference 91/28450/FUL, which is in the
process of being restored.
Whilst this area is subject to breach of the planning permission which governed the minimum
peat depth of 2 metres, this breach is historic and occurred prior to the present operators,
William Sinclair, having involvement in the site.
The borders of the site are roughly defined by trees, shrubs and grass strips, the active areas of
the site resembles an undulating brown/black substrate, which is permeated by drainage ditches
which drain the peat, allowing the peat to dry out so it can then be harvested. The main
operation/storage area is located adjacent to the southern entrance of the site, off Twelve Yards
Road. There is also another peat storage area located to the west of the operation adjacent to
Railway View Farm.
Twelve Yards Road SBI, the restoration area, is characterised by peat bunds that have been
used to form cells, which then fill with water, and then 'seeded' with Sphagnum propagates with
the aim of re-colonising this area to lowland bog. There is a 30m buffer zone separating this
restoration and the active peat working area which is included within these applications.
This area has been managed by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust (Wildlife Trust for Lancashire,
Manchester and North Merseyside) for Salford City Council under lease from the land owner,
until the expiry of the current permission in December 2010.
Beyond the boundaries of the site, the landscape is mainly characterised by drained agricultural
land. The majority of Chat Moss, once a large peat bog, has been drained and turned to use for
agriculture. The near flat topography, combined with bordering hedges, trees and the railway
line prevents views into the site, although rights of way do pass through the site.
Description of Proposal
The end date for peat extraction on the permissions which are the subject of the planning
applications is the 31st December 2010.
In view of this, the proposal seeks to:
Extend the end date for peat extraction operations from Dec 2010 to December 2025.
The requirement to leave a minimum depth of 2m of peat on the site would be retained.
Extend the end date for restoration to December 2027
Amend the permitted restoration of the site from an „amenity‟ use to bog habitat, with an
element of progressive restoration.
Reduce the period of the working day from the currently permitted 0600-2000hrs to
0700-1900hrs (this part of the proposal is an amendment put forward in the revised ES)
Introduce a scheme of phased working, restoration and 15 year aftercare period. (this
part of the proposal is an amendment put forward in the revised ES)
It is proposed that all three permissions within Salford which these applications relate to, would
be amended to include the same end date for the cessation of peat extraction, the same
working hours and include a condition limiting peat extraction down to a minimum level of 2m (in
relation to the underlying strata). The phased working, restoration and aftercare will also be
consistent across all three permissions.
Similar applications have been submitted in Wigan, although these are presently undetermined.
It is noted that extraction has now recommenced on the site in breach of planning control. The
Council has taken separate action on this and members are advised that they must judge the
current submissions on their merits against the development plan and all other material
Draft Heads of Terms
The proposal also includes a draft Heads of Terms for a legal agreement between the William
Sinclair Ltd (the operator) Peel Environmental Ltd (the landowner) Salford City Council and
possibly Wigan Council. The updated Heads of Terms provided in the Revised ES dated 19th
1. No further applications for peat extraction would be submitted on the Chat Moss site
beyond the proposed end date of 2025.
- No details have been given to state how this would work. In our view S106A of the Town
and Country Planning Act allows the applicant after the appropriate passage of time to be
relieved of this obligation It is not certain at this stage to be able to conclude that should
extractable peat remain in the ground after 2025 that the applicant would not seek to use
S106A of the Act to relieve them of this obligation
2. Any conditions that apply to the planning permissions that are currently in the process of
being varied would also apply to planning permission 17-3-1167 which is located in the
south west corner of the site.
- This undertaking would have some benefits in terms of controls on the operation,
including stipulations on minimum peat depth and working hours which are presently not in
force on this part of the site. However, this is ambiguous and doesn‟t clarify whether all
conditions would apply and given that these conditions were framed some 15 years ago of
what real benefit they have. There is potentially conflict with bullet point 3 below since the
existing permissions require restoration to amenity land. The applicant has not fully
explained how such an arrangement would satisfy the relevant test in Circular 5/2005.
3. The restoration of the whole site would be to bog habitat. Provision would be made for
the long term aftercare of the site.
- This is ambiguous and it is not clear whether this would apply to the area covered by
planning permission 17-3-1167 and how this would align with point 2 above.
4. A further lease at a nominal annual rent would be offered to Salford City Council for the
land known as the Twelve Yards Road SBI. The existing lease expired in 2010.
5. Provision of a sum of £3000 per annum to Salford City Council; or the equivalent in
manpower and machines, for the maintenance and management of the SBI.
6. The applicant will retain a minimum depth of 2 metres of peat beneath the harvest area.
7. Peat extraction operations to commence at 0700hrs rather than 0600hrs currently
It is considered that bullet points 6 and 7 are unnecessary in any legal agreement as they could
be imposed as a condition to any grant of planning permission on the sites covered by the
section 73 applications.
At this stage there are concerns as to how the above provisions would work in practice given
some of the ambiguities highlighted above. Advice is being sought and will be reported at
Revised information submitted 20th and 31st May 2011, 1st and 2nd of June 2011
Contents of Revised Information
Information Received 20th May
A substantial amount of revised / additional information in relation to the environmental
statement was received on Friday the 20th May, together with an initial critique and commentary
from the applicant on the contents of the Panel report that was originally prepared for the
Planning and Transportation Regulatory Panel on the 25th May 2011.
The information was submitted under cover of an email from Chris Turner, a technical
consultant for William Sinclair
In the covering email, WSH outlines the key points from the letters to the Environment Agency
and to the Local Planning Authority (discussed below) and states that be believes that the
letters answer all points raised by the various consultees in particular Natural England and the
Environment Agency . The key points in this email are as follows;
- WSH fully accept the value of the 12 Yards Lane SBI. In particular WSH accept it is a site that
supports water voles that need protecting. However other fauna and flora also exist within this
SBI which are valuable and the habitat needed to support these should be protected.
-In order to protect this site, the water table has to be maintained, and maintained throughout
any further peat extraction operations, should they continue for a further 15 years. The
hydrological data supplied with these letters demonstrates that water levels are currently being
maintained within this SBI area. The proposed mitigation proposals will ensure this water table
is maintained during any further peat extraction operations.
- It is emphasised that, WSH are committed to protecting this SBI area during any further peat
- WSH state they have corrected any ambiguity caused by para 7.107 of the ES. Bare peatland
can meet the definition of Degraded Raised Bog. But, patently, not all such sites are of
European value and so not all such sites should be protected.
- WSH states that some substantially worked peatland sites were selected as Degraded Raised
Bogs SAC, namely Bolton Fell, Thorne and Hatfield. Selection was down to size. Sites over 400
hectares were considered to be desirable sites warranting protection, whereas sites under 400
hectares were not.. The WSH operation on Chat Moss relates to a little over 60 hectares.
- WSH want to restore the site to a self sustaining wetland habitat dominated by sphagnum
mosses. By extending the peat extraction operation for a further 15 years, the restoration
proposals put forward by WSH can be implemented. This would result in a considerable
environmental gain for Salford, Manchester and the UK.
WSH is keen to reassure the Authority that the company is addressing the issues here and that
going forward the company is well placed to continue to run operations sensitively having regard
to the interests of all stakeholders.
The email accompanies information submitted comprising written submissions to the
Environment Agency and the Local Planning Authority and further survey data in terms of water
vole surveys and groundwater data. A CV for Chris Turner is also included which includes
details of peat restoration work that he has undertaken for William Sinclair Horticulture.
The applicant concludes that following a review of the consultee responses and follow up
meetings, and the presentation of further information that the substantive issues raised by the
consultees have now been addressed.
The information has been provided by SLR, the agents for the applicant in response to
comments made by The Greater Manchester Ecology Unit (GMEU), The Environment Agency
(EA), Natural England (NE) and the Lancashire Wildlife Trust (LWT) in response to the original
and revised ES, and following further meetings between the applicant, the EA and NE in April
Information provided to the Local Planning Authority
The letter to the Authority includes a summary of the responses from these consultees and
organisations on the information submitted and a response to this information. In addition to the
information regarding ecology, hydrology / hydrogeology, restoration and mitigation, further
information is also provided on the status of the extraction site and Twelve Yards Road SBI
which is a particular source of contention between the LPA, consultees and the applicant.
This is not surprising given that the status, or importance of the sites has a bearing on the level
of protection we may wish to afford to the site, and therefore may influence the recommendation
on the planning application
Parties are now agreed that the extraction site and the Twelve Yards Road SBI meets the
criteria of Annex 1 of the Habitats Directive, however in further information submitted by the
applicant, the focus has now turned to whether the site is significant on a regional or national
These issues including the other information relating to ecology, hydrology / hydrogeology,
restoration and mitigation is discussed more detail in the report below.
Information Dated 31st May and 1st of June
Further to this additional supporting information was provided from Bernard Burns, the CEO of
William Sinclair dated the 31st May and 1st of June.
The Information dated the 31st of May comprises further information on habitat protection at
The information makes reference to the amount of wetland lost to of agricultural / forestry land
use which does not require planning permission, and whilst SSSI status has been afforded to
remaining wetland sites, this status does not reverse drained or forested wetlands.
Bernard Burns states that in contrast, sites for peat extraction are being required to be restored
to active bog and that William Sinclair have a track record of this including the site at Gardrum
Moss in Falkirk, Scotland where restoration has been successful, and that this has been
undertaken on 0.5 metres of peat. It is their contention that continued extraction will not prevent
the successful restoration of the site to active bog.
Bernard Burns states that they are prepared to accept the restoration of the site to active bog as
a condition and that William Sinclair would agree to strict restoration standards carrying financial
penalties to ensure the best outcome for the site is acheived.
The information goes on to detail the impacts in terms of climate change and carbon issues,
encompassing the need for peat (discussed in the report below) including details of William
Sinclair‟s engagement with the Government to bring forward peat alternatives. Bernard Burns
offers a trip for council members to view William Sinclairs‟s peat alternative production plant in
Basingstoke to this end.
The information dated the 1st of June comprises a number of documents including a letter form
the RSPB on behalf a number of stakeholders (including William Sinclair Horticulture) to Richard
Benyon MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Natural Environment and Fisheries
encouraging the government to use an economic driver (Levy) to encourage the use of non-peat
alternatives. The response to this is included dated the 10th May 2011, which thanks the RSPB
for their letter. The letter explains that the issues raised are being considered and that officials
at Defra would be consulted on before a response would be made.
Further information is also provided with relation to the Peat Restoration Trial at Gardrum Moss,
Falkirk, Scotland. Whilst some of this information has already been provided as part of the
submitted ES, and updated assessment report of these trials has been provided dated July
Information Received 2nd June
This information comprises further (interim) critique of the panel report dated the 25th May from
Dr Chris Turner,
The contents of this critique together with that provided on the 20th May have been considered
together, and as a result changes have been made to this Panel report to update matters of
fact.. Much of the commentary is the opinion of the applicant and clarification of justifications
made by the applicant previously. Where there were clear discrepancies in the Panel Report,
the report has been updated. The main points of clarification are summarised below;
Whilst the Habitat (degraded raised bog) of the extraction areas meets the criteria of an
Annex 1 Habitat, it is not a „Priority‟ Habitat under Annex 1 of the Habitats directive, but
is a priority under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
A number of designated raised bogs such as Thorne, Hatfield, Wedholme and Bolton
Fell were working sites when designated, it is therefore wrong to suggest that the Chat
Moss sites have not been designated because they are presently being worked.
The applications are new permissions for peat extraction being that new applications are
required for peat extraction to occur, however the sites are not new sites for peat
extraction, peat extraction being underway on some areas of the site since the 1960s.
However the effect of approving a s73 application is a new permission in its own right.
The extraction in terms of carbon emissions is less damaging than the carbon emissions
from the importation of foreign peat, officers need to look at net figures rather than the
site in isolation – this point is addressed within the report below;
In the context of the Defra Consultation entitled „Reducing the Horticultural Use of Peat‟
continued extraction from the existing extraction site will be necessary in order to
facilitate the withdrawal of horticultural peat use over the next 9 to 19 years.
Some peat extraction will be needed and will still be taking place in the latter half of the
2020-2030 period. Officers assertion that very little peat will be required after 2018 is
incorrect - this point is addressed within the report below;
The applicant states the Peat Alternatives are unlikely to come forward in the short term
The applicant states that there is disagreement with the point that the greater the depth
of peat remaining, the better the potential for successful restoration. The point is made
that some researchers, notably Wheeler from Sheffield University believe restoration is
more successful if peat levels are lowered, as this brings the surface of the peat closer
to the water table. The key issue is the maintenance of the water level at or just below
the peat surface rather than simply leaving a certain depth of peat – this point is
addressed within the report below;
The applicant clarifies factors and features of the restoration proposals – this point is
addressed within the report below;
Correspondence between WSH and Natural England 8th June – 21st June 2011, WSH and
Urban Vision 20th June 2011 and Natural England Urban Vision 22nd June 2011
Further to the publication of the last panel report, and submission of further information, there
has been correspondence between WSH and Natural England.
A summary of this correspondence is given below;
Letter dated 8th June 2011 from Chris Turner to Natural England
WSH states that the objections of NE fall into two categories;
1. Under Annexe 1 of the Habitats Directive, the site qualifies as a degraded raised bog capable
of restoration within a 30 year time period and as such should not be harvested;
2, Insufficient evidence has been presented to convince NE that hydrological changes caused
by operations are not damaging the adjacent SBI area
In response to the first point, WSH states that NE agrees that the site is capable of restoration
and that virtually all commercial peat workings could be restored within 30 years and therefore
the objection is irrelevant. They state that Natural England object to the extraction in principal
but it is not a justification for refusal of planning permission on the site.
WSH states that there is no appreciation that the conditions of the permissions require only
amenity restoration and that the 1963 permission under 17/3/1167 has no bog restoration
requirement or to leave 2 metres of peat remaining. WSH states that all the issues would be
addressed by allowing a further 15 years extraction,, and that a significant environmental gain
would be achieved.
In response to the second point it is stated that the Twelve Yards Road SBI has developed
since 1998 through the blocking of drains and the creation of bunds, and that the extraction site
has been in operation for that time period, and the SBI has developed to what it is now a
wetland area supporting the growth of sphagnum mosses
WSH responds to the NE‟s concerns regarding hydrology as highlighted in NE‟s response of the
1st June 2011 to the additional information provided by WSH and SLR on the 20th May 2011 and
asks if NE can clarify their position on these points. WSH advises NE that it would be unsafe to
allow the conclusions expressed in NE‟s response on the 1st June 2011 to form the basis of
decisions going forward.
Letter dated 10th June 2011 from Natural England to Chris Turner of William Sinclair
NE states that from their letter, WSH has not reflected accurately NE‟s comments regarding the
significance of the site. NE note that SLR Consulting recognise the site is an Annex 1 Habitat
but disagree with the conclusion that it is only of regional value.
NE state that whilst the Annex 1 Habitat at Chat Moss cannot be considered to have a
European value individually that it does have an important role to play in contributing to the
achievement of favourable conservation status for the Annex 1 Habitat in the UK as a whole.
NE suggest that the site has considerable status at a national level and that this should be
represented in the environmental assessment of the development. NE state that this makes it
critical that issues relating to buffering, and restoration are addressed.
NE makes comments regarding the lack of monitoring data and responds to comments provided
by WSH regarding aspects of the SBI in his previous letter.
Letter dated 20th June 2011 from WSH to Natural England
WSH states that NE accept that the Annex 1 Habitat at Chat Moss cannot be considered to
have a European value on its own as a Degraded Raised Bog.
WSH agrees that the site has an important role to play in contributing to the achievement of
favourable conservation status for the Annex 1 Habitat in the UK as a whole.
However WSH argues that their view differs over timescales, and that the site does not
favourably contribute to Annex 1 Habitat presently because of its after-use is for amenity. In
contrast WSH states that in the proposed scheme, with peat extraction being taken to 2025, the
site will be returned to active bog which will favourably contribute to Annex 1 Habitat in the UK.
WSH asks NE to clarify points in NE‟s original response of 1st June 2011, relating to the position
of the buffer zone between the extraction area and the SBI, in that the SBI Habitat has been
extended into the buffer zone, which means although the buffer zone may no longer seem to be
30 metres, that in reality it still is.
WSH clarifies issues over the trees on the SBI and states that they can exacerbate drying out of
the peat but that these have been on site for some time and have not just appeared over the
last two or three years and so are not an indication of the recent surface drying out but are a
legacy from when the site was first taken out of production.
WSH concludes that their hydro-geologist is highly qualified and that his professional opinion is
that continued extraction for 15 years subject to limitations and restrictions outlined in the
application will not affect the hydrology of the SBI, given the proposal of water monitoring and
the provision of the buffer zone of 60 metres.
Letter dated 21st June 2011 from Natural England to William Sinclair Horticulture.
NE clarifies and error made by NE in response to their response to the additional information
dated 1st June 2011.
They welcome the extension of the buffer zone to 60m and comment that they feel that this is a
step in the right direction but require further information on this to assess the effectiveness of
NE state that they are encouraged by the positive remarks towards the restoration of the site to
an active bog, and state that they would encourage that this restoration is achieved through a
phased approach that is based on a trigger depth of peat rather than waiting until the end of
Letter dated 20th June 2011 from William Sinclair Horticulture to Urban Vision
WSH provide a response to issues raised in the Environment Agency‟s response of the 3rd June
2011 The main points are as follows;
Attachment 1 : Hydrographs of groundwater levels
Whilst there are gaps in the groundwater levels, WSH believes that a very reasonable estimate
of groundwater can be made, and that they will continue the monitoring process which will
confirm that the estimations are right.
Attachment 2a and 2b : Drawdown Plots
WSH clarifies that the bund of the SBI is on the buffer zone, therefore the buffer zone is 30
The data submitted indicate that the maximum extent of the zone of influence for the drainage
ditch is 20 to 25 metres which is therefore outside of the zone of influence. WSH comments in
addition to this, a groundwater and surface water monitoring programme has been offered as
well as extending the buffer zone to 60 metres.
SLR have offered to provide all data sets to the EA for distance/drawdown data, but the EA has
not asked for them, SLR feel it is unjust to criticise SLR for not plotting the data correctly and re-
emphasise that all the data can be provide for scrutiny by the EA
Data relating to ground water and surface water levels within the SBI has not been released to
the applicant by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust or the EA, and this needs to be rectified.
The EA‟s assertion that loss of water from the SBI may be due to peat extraction is not
necessarily correct, water from the SBI flows northerly and easterly, away from the extraction
site, plus drainage pipes which take water from the SBI altogether on it‟s eastern edge.
Rainwater is being encouraged to leave the site through these pipes.
The trees on the site will lead to loss of water from the SBI but these have been in place for
some time and are not an indication of recent surface drying out
In view of this, it is WSH‟s opinion that most of the water is being lost from the site from the
drainage pipes in the SBI and trees. WSH also notes low rainfall over recent years, which is not
acknowledged by the EA.
WSH also states that after a very dry spring, the SBI is still very wet indeed with pools of water
observed on the SBI and comments that loss of water from the SBI from piping or tree growth
does not appear to be damaging the development of the site to restored bog.
Note on Covering Letter – Hydrogeology
WSH confirms that the if the buffer zone was increased to 60m, then all the ditches within the
zone would be blocked up and they would not simply stop harvesting peat in this area, some
rerouting of surface water runs would be required however.
Section 2 – Baseline Water Vole Surveys
WSH states that that one of the main reasons for protecting the SBI is to protect the water vole
population and that they will not do anything to harm the water vole population now or in the
future. Further monitoring work is also being undertaken
Conclusion from correspondence 8th June 2011 – 22nd June 2011
Whilst there has been some encouragement and acceptance of the revised information from the
applicant by Natural England, it is still considered that there is a way to go in terms of providing
sufficient details of a restoration plan and information in terms of mitigation offered between the
extraction site and Twelve Yards Road SBI.
At the time of writing, no comments have been received form the Environment Agency on the
letter regarding their comments from WSH which has been forwarded for their information and
Earliest Decision Date: 24th June 2011
Site Notice: Article 8 site notice displayed 25.05.2010
Reason: Article 8
Site Notice: Site Environmental Statement displayed 25.05.2010
Reason: Planning Application with Environmental Impact Assessment
Press Advert: Article 8, Life in Salford – June 2010 issue
Reason: Article 8 – Major Planning Application
Press Advert: Environmental Statement. Life in Salford – June 2010 issue
Reason: Planning Application with Environmental Impact Assessment
Press Advert: Additional information submitted within the Environmental Statement - Salford
Advertiser – 13th January 2011
Reason: Revised Information submitted within the Environmental Statement
Press Advert: Additional information submitted within the Environmental Statement - Salford
Advertiser – 2nd June 2011. Expires 23.06.2011
17/3/1004 – Building and use of land for peat cutting – Approved 15.12.1961
17/3/1167 – Erection of building and use of land for peat processing – Approved 12.06.1963
E/11002 – Cutting of peat – Approved 01.09.1981
E/20625 – Extraction of peat – Withdrawn 23.07.1987
E/22095 - Extraction of peat for horticultural composting – 17.02.1988
E/24741 – Extraction of peat for horticultural composting – Approved 19.12.1990
91/28449/FUL - Continued use of land for extraction of peat with variation of conditions imposed
on planning permission E11002 – Approved 15.07.1994
91/28450/FUL – Continued use of land for peat extraction with variation of conditions imposed
on planning permission E22095 – Approved 15.07.1994
97/37333/FUL – Variation of planning permission E/24741 to change the method of peat
extraction from sod cutting to surface milling and similar modification of the legal agreement
covering the whole of the existing Chat Moss peat working site – Approved 14.08.1998
The following properties were notified of the applications;
Moss Farm, Cutnook Lane, Irlam, M44 5ND
Oxcheek Farm, Cutnook Lane, Irlam, M44 5NA
Barton Moss Farm Cottage, Twelve Yard Road, Irlam, MANCHESTER, M30 7RN,
Woodbarn Farm, Twelve Yard Road, Irlam, MANCHESTER, M44 5LY
Birch View Farm Off, Raspberry Lane, Irlam, MANCHESTER, M44 5LY,
Oakfield Farmhouse, Raspberry Lane, Irlam, MANCHESTER, M44 5WA,
Manor Farm Off, Twelve Yard Road, Irlam, MANCHESTER, M30 7RW,
Birch Farm Off, Twelve Yard Road, Irlam, MANCHESTER, M30 7RW,
Overall in excess of 570 objections have been received in response to publicity of the
applications. Approximately 450 objections were received in the initial round of consultation,
with approximately 120 further objections being received in response to the revised
Environmental Statement consultation some of which are revised comments from those who
have commented previously
Since the publication of the original panel report on the 17th May, and the publicity of the most
recent revised information, we have received 20 further representations with regards to the
applications some of which are revised comments from those who have commented previously.
One of these is a letter of support of the work of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust, one of these
letters asserts that the Council will grant planning permission despite damage to housing and
the environment. 16 of these are objection letters and two of these representations are
objections from Councillor Christine Hudson and Councillor Jones which are restated from
previous consultation on the applications. Many of the issues raised are the same as those
listed below, however there have been new issues raised which are detailed at the end of this
It is noted that many of the objections are objections to all the three applications, so the total
number of objections will be substantially higher, it is also noted that some of the objections
received as a result of the latest round of consultation are likely to be additional objections from
individuals who responded to the initial consultation.
The objections included are from residents and interest groups and include an objection from
the ward councillor and an objection from Barbara Keeley MP which has been restated following
the latest round of consultation. One letter of no objection and two letters of support have also
been received in response to the application;
The following represents a summary of the comments received. Whilst it is not the full text, it
represents the key points that have been expressed regarding this proposal.
Conservation of peatland
Should insist site is restored to active bog now
Peat free alternatives are available, including those based on recycled garden waste
Importation of peat from abroad would increase costs therefore discouraging use
Peat takes thousands of years to form and cannot be replaced
Most active lowland bog has been destroyed, the remainder should be saved
Precedent for extraction elsewhere
Phasing out of peat based composts
Roads accessing site in dangerous condition – highway safety, causing damage to cars
and dangerous for pedestrians to use
Roads insufficient for size and number of vehicles using them.
Not in the interests of public health and safety
Air pollution caused by traffic
Nuisance to footpath users from traffic
Will prevent breeding birds in the area
Loss and destruction of fauna and flora on site and within vicinity of site, particularly on
the Twelve Yards Road SBI
Negative impacts on restorability of Twelve Yards Road SBI
Cause harm to biodiversity
Loss of Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) habitat
Potential for habitat of SSSI quality
Impacts of drainage on adjacent land leading to subsidence of property
Loss of site which acts as water store / flooding buffer
Loss of an important carbon sink
Emission of Greenhouse gases and cause of climate change
May not be possible to restore in current state and even more difficult to restore if
proposal was approved
Inadequacy of restoration proposals including timescales
Contrary to the principal of the Mosslands Vision
Contrary to PPS1 Climate change
Contrary to Article 4 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
Contrary to Salford and Wigan Policy
Contrary to Draft Core Strategy
Incompatible with Government policy
On Green belt which should be protected
Loss of educational resource
If site was restored properly could promote tourism
Site should be used for leisure and recreation purposes
Extraction not vital for Salford economy
Negative impact on landscape
Concerns over breaches of existing permissions as well as those on the Astley Moss
Loss of fossil / climate/ archaeological record
Loss of cultural / folklore resource
If permissions are granted, developer may seek compensation from the government to
cease extraction as at the Bolton Fell site
Loss of jobs for employees of operation and subsequent impact on the families of these
New Issues raised in representations received since publishing of original panel report and
publicity of revised information
Revised ES does not address fundamental concerns regarding the development
Commercial need of developer should not outweigh nature importance
Peat Bogs take millennia to create therefore restoration within in short timescale as
stated in the planning application is misleading.
Damage to other bogland due to wildfires makes saving of Chat Moss more critical
Applicant has disregarded conditions and expiry of previous planning permissions - this
may happen again
The Authority should show they care about the environment and should not grant
Extraction is continuing even though there is no permission in place
Restoration will not restore the site to its previous state
Defra has set out a new policy framework to reduce peat extraction to zero by 2030 in
the new white paper, which sets out a progressive phase-out target of 2015 for the
government and the public sector on direct procurement of peat in new contracts for
plants and voluntary phase-out target of 2020 for amateur gardeners.
Previous devastation caused to Astley Moss from peat extraction
Existing operations are damaging the environment and properties on Astley Road.
The Planning Authority has no duty to protect businesses or increase profit margins, but
do have a duty to protect national interests from reckless development.
There have been a number of rounds of consultation carried out. The first round was carried out
in response to the original application and ES submitted in March 2010, the second round was
carried out in response to the revised ES submitted in November 2010 and the final round was
carried out in June 2011 due to the submission of information prior the applications being
considered at Panel.
Below are the most recent comments received from consultees which have been updated
where these have been provided. A more detailed chronology of the main consultees,
principally, Natural England, the Environment Agency, The Greater Manchester Geology Unit
and the Lancashire Wildlife Trust are set out more fully within the sections dealing with the
detailed impacts of the proposal.
Natural England – In response to the revised ES submitted in November 2010, NE restated
their objection to the applications as the information submitted with the revised Environmental
Statement is still inadequate in respect of the acknowledgement of impacts of the activity on the
peat and lack of mitigation for the hydrology, ecology , impacts on the adjacent SBI and whether
restoration of the site would be successful. Natural England disagrees with the applicants claim
that the site would not meet the criteria for an annex 1 habitat.
Natural England recommended that the Authority refuse planning permission until such
information is supplied.
In response to the revised information submitted on the 20th of May 2011, Natural
England, amongst others comments, made the following remarks;
Natural England has confirmed that the Habitats Directive set out a framework and describes
the favourable conservation status of each natural habitat type and that the Joint Nature
Conservation Committee (“JNCC”) consider that the UK-wide assessment of favourable
conservation status for each Annex 1 habitat required under Article 11 does not relate to that
component of the habitat areas or species population to be found in Special Areas of
Conservation (“SAC”), but to the totality of the habitats and species throughout the UK. Whilst
the Annex 1 habitat at the site cannot be considered to have European value individually, it
does have an important role to play in contributing to the achievement of favourable
conservation status for the Annex 1 Habitat in the UK as a whole
NE note that SLR accepts that the site‟s habitat falls within the definition of lowland raised bog
UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP) Habitat. It is also worth noting that this is a „habitat of
principal importance‟ for conservation in England as listed by section 41 of the NERC Act 2006,
and the Government intends that this list should be uses to prioritise action, particularly by Local
Planning Authorities to further biodiversity conservation and aims of PPS9
To summarise, Natural England suggest that the identification of the‟ degraded rasied bog‟ at
Chat Moss as both Annex 1 and UKBAP Habitat , and its inclusion on England‟s S41 list, would
suggest that the site has more considerable conservation value at a national level.
NE in summary state that Natural England has considered the proposal against the full range of
its interests in the natural environment and is of the opinion that the additional further
information presented by the Applicant is still inadequate in respect of the acknowledgement of
impacts of the activity on the peat and lack of mitigation for the hydrology, ecology and
restoration of the site. In view of this, NE has strongly recommended refusal of planning
permission until such information is provided.
Further comments have been made by NE in response to the revised information submitted by
the applicant which is discussed earlier in this report.
Comments made by Natural England are also discussed in more detail in the Appraisal Section
Environment Agency - In response to the revised ES submitted in November 2010, the EA
maintained their objection to the proposal and subsequent amendments in the revised ES
and recommended that planning permission should be refused in the absence of adequate
information on the risks posed by the development.
In particular the Environment Agency state that the applicant has not demonstrated that the
additional working would still allow restoration of the site to bog habitat, and that the
hydrological modelling that has been used does not adequately assess the potential impacts on
drainage, adjacent protected sites and the water vole habitat.
The EA have also advised that the impact of the proposed development on climate change is a
key material consideration.
Following the submission of the revised information on the 20th May The Environment
Agency (EA) stated in summary, that there are still significant uncertainties and ambiguities in
the data supplied by the applicant, most notably in relation to how the stand-off adjacent to
Twelve Yards Road SBI might be effectively maintained, and that the water levels required to
sustain the SBI have yet to be determined.
The EA states that it would appear that the existing passive dewatering is already impacting on
the groundwater levels at the edge of the Twelve Yards Road SBI; a situation that will continue
to occur if the planning permissions are granted and could result in the eventual deterioration of
Twelve Yards Road. The Applicant has not provided any detail as to how this will be
avoided/mitigated as part of the current development proposals. The EA has therefore
maintained their objection until it has been demonstrated that the risks posed by the
development can be satisfactorily addressed.
It is noted that the Environment Agency have not yet provided comments on further
correspondence from Chris Turner of WSH submitted on the 20th June 2011.
These issues are discussed in more detail in the Appraisal Section below.
Greater Manchester Ecology Unit - In response to the revised ES submitted in November 2010
GMEU objected to the applications and recommended refusal of the applications based on
the following issues;
1. The national and sub-regional policy context on peat extraction has become clearer
with developing plans and government guidance and indicates an extremely strong
steer and the rejection of new applications for peat extraction. In addition, comments
from the initial consultation response in regard to other issues of policy still stand.
2. The damage and loss to an Annex 1 Habitat (under the Habitats Directive) is
unacceptable and impacts to SBIs are still uncertain.
3. The evidence provided by the carbon budget analysis does not outweigh the loss of the
carbon storage of the current peat resource.
4. There is still significant uncertainty regarding the impacts of the proposal and the
achievability/confidence in the deliverability of the restoration proposals.
5. The planning description of the proposal is still inaccurate with respect to the restoration
6. The proposal does not provide for phased restoration contrary to current guidance
Following the submission of the revised information on the 20th May GMEU stated in its
conclusion, taking all the additional information in-the-round, that the additional information does
not fundamentally address its previous comments with regard to the site‟s evaluation, impact
analysis and the restoration proposals, nor does it fundamentally or substantively alter the
concluding comments in its formal responses of 17th June 2010 and 9th February 2011 (previous
comments of 9th February shown above)
GMEU concludes that the discussion within the draft Panel Report (published) is still valid in its
reporting of the biodiversity issues (both policy and technical issues) subject potentially to an
addendum to report on consultee comments on the additional information.
These issues are discussed in more detail in the Appraisal Section below.
Greater Manchester Archaeological Unit - No objections to the proposal. No updated comments
United Utilities - No objections to the proposal. No updated comments received
Urban Vision Environment - Contaminated Land - No comments to make on the applications
Urban Vision Environment - Noise and Air Quality - Have no objections in relation to noise or air
quality and are satisfied with the applicants dust management plan. They have recommended
three conditions in relation to dust and noise to be attached to any approval. This is discussed
further in the appraisal below. No updated comments received
Greater Manchester Geological Unit - Have commented on some inaccuracies within the
application documentation that should be corrected, and recommended conditions that should
be added should the applications be approved.
GMGU have recommended that the restoration proposals shown in Chapter 5 of the ES
are examined by appropriately qualified landscape architects and Natural England to
ensure that the proposed restoration and aftercare would result in a sustainable wetland
bog habitat. It may be necessary to agree an extended aftercare scheme of 10 years in
order to assure the legacy of a high quality wetland bog habitat.
GMGU have commented that it is inevitable that the depth of peat remaining will be below 2m if
a further 1.5 metres of peat is removed from the surface and that the minimum permitted depth
would be unachievable if the application was approved. They have recommended that this is
dealt with by modifying the application to an average of 2m to be left in situ which could be
assessed through the submission of annual peat depth surveys, or by reducing the permitted
depth level to allow for this.
GMGU comment the implications of this would need to be assessed by an ecologist as
reduction in final peat thickness may affect restorability to bog habitat
It is commented that restoration is a crucial element of proposal in line with policy requirements
and that on balance this outweighs the damage of another 15 years of peat extraction on the
site bearing in mind that refusal would result in restoration to amenity land which the applicant
has indicated does not include wetland bog habitat.
Network Rail - Network Rail has no objections to the extension of time applications. No further
Wigan MBC - No comments received, planning applications within Wigan still pending decision.
Cadishead Ward Councillors - Objection from Councillor Christine Hudson
Group Leader Landscape Design - Have commented that following additional information
submitted by the applicant in the revised ES submitted in November, the field pattern for the
bunds appears to be more detailed and more appropriate.
Government Office For The North West - No comments received to date
Main Drainage - No objections received, have commented that any footpath diversion details
need to be submitted.
Have made revised comments that previous comments regarding Diversion/ restoration /
maintenance of Public Rights of Ways- detail required- still stands
Highways - No objections – have made comments regarding access and maintenance of Astley
Road – discussed in report below.
Ramblers – object to the proposal on the following grounds:-
1. The use of the area for peat extraction is of visual intrusion and noise and
disturbance intrusion for recreational walkers for vehicles and machinery associated
with the workings.
2. Extraction of peat will threaten fauna and flora within the area.
3. Extraction of peat will lead to increased carbon emissions contributing to climate
change which is contrary to national policies.
4. Extraction of further peat from the site could jeopardise adjacent sites which are under
restoration by causing them to dry out.
5. The development is unnecessary due to the availability of viable peat alternatives.
6. Bog restoration should be carried out, and rights of way where disturbed should be
returned to a usable condition.
RSPB – object to the proposal on the following grounds:-
1. The proposal will jeopardise subsequent restoration and thus will lead to a reduction in
2. PPS9 requirements should be applied to the site which relates to the maintenance,
restoration and enhancement of species and habitats
3. Loss of a carbon store, and increased carbon dioxide emissions from oxidation of
extracted peat, subsequent impacts on climate change
4. Applications reflects guidance in MPG13 which is out of date.
5. Government has pledged to phase out peat based composts and the applications run
contrary to this.
6. Applicant is developing peat-free composts which should be invested in and would
overcome issues of employment loss.
The RSPB has also made detailed comments regarding information within the submitted
CPRE - Lancashire Branch – object on the following grounds:-
1. Proposal conflicts with National, Regional and Local Planning Policy
2. Loss of an important carbon sink, Increased carbon dioxide emissions and subsequent
impact on Climate Change
3. Loss of Biodiversity due to the proposals
The Lancashire Wildlife Trust – object on the following grounds:-
1. The harm that would be done to the site and to the environment if permission is granted
2. The continued loss of Chat Moss as potential lowland raised bog for a further 15 years
3. The restorability of the existing site and the requirements contained within the existing
4. The potential of the site once restored to increase the amount of threatened BAP
habitat- lowland raised bog
5. The impact of changed hydrology on water voles and mossland vegetation on the
adjacent Twelve Yards Road SBI
6. The impact of peat extraction on carbon emissions
7. Concerns over breaches on the existing permissions and that these may occur in the
8. The incompatibility of the proposed development with local and national policies and
9. The failure to meet government targets on reduces peat use
10. The oversupply of peat relative to strategic needs
11. The increasing availability of viable non-peat based alternatives
The Lancashire Wildlife Trust has also made detailed comments regarding information within
the submitted Environmental Statement which are discussed in this report.
Further to the information received on the 20th May 2011. In summary, the Lancashire Wildlife
Trust state the additional information supplied by William Sinclair does not address the Trust‟s
The Trust makes comments regarding the submitted water vole survey information and the
importance of the Twelve Yards Road SBI and the importance of the extraction site.
The Trust disagrees with the use of the Ratcliffe Criteria by SLR but are pleased that SLR
acknowledge the importance of the site relative to Manchester Mosses SAC, and its high
With regards to mitigation and restoration proposals, the Trust emphasises concerns over
reference to an „average‟ depth of 2 metres, and the width of the buffer zone which the trust
maintain is under 30 metres. The Trust welcome the 60m buffer zone proposal but not that no
details of this has been provided.
The Trust relates to the work undertaken to the Twelve Yards Road SBI to retain water levels on
the site, but this is competing with drainage of the adjacent extraction site, and are of the
opinion that risks remain due to ditch deepening adjacent to the site and its impact on the SBI.
The Trust state that the applicant has still not supplied evidence to quantify the impact in critical
dry summer and autumn conditions.
Thorne & Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum- object on the following grounds:-
1. Peat Bogs make a significant impact to the environment in terms of Carbon
2. Jobs could be moved elsewhere and transferred to peat alternative operation
The South Yorkshire based Thorne and Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum have also made
detailed comments regarding information within the submitted Environmental Statement in
relation to information provided in the Restoration, Ecology, Carbon and Alternatives Sections.
Lancashire Environmental Fund – object on the following grounds:-
1. Damage to wildlife - habitats should be conserved rather than further destroyed
2. Loss of carbon storage and subsequent carbon dioxide emissions
3. Suitable peat free alternatives are available and that there is no need for further peat
extraction to occur.
Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland – object on the following grounds:-
1. Biodiversity and carbon storage
2. Chat Moss that is of value to the local community in terms of amenity and recreation
3. Proposal is contrary to Local and National Policy
Friends of the Earth Central Lancashire – object on the following grounds:-
1. Applications will lead to a loss of peat bogs which are a support system for wildlife
2. Extracting peat releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and
contributes to global warming.
3, There are excellent peat alternatives available negating the need for further extraction to
4, The applications should be rejected and full restoration to a peat bog should take place
Friends of the Earth Manchester Branch – object on the following grounds:-
1. Further greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere
2. Loss of a carbon store/carbon sequestration through the further removal of the peat
3. Loss of important habitat, which is becoming rare in the North of England.
4. Against government aspirations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions
5. Site unlikely to be able to restored should further extraction be permitted
6. Loss of habitats important at a European Level
7. Alternatives to Peat Extraction are available, UK Peat production is already more than
sufficient to meet the needs of the domestic market.
Planning Policy Background
Section 70(2) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 requires local planning authorities
when determining planning applications to “have regard to the provisions of the development
plan so far as material to the application, and to any other material considerations”
This is read with:
Section 38 (6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 which provides that:
“If regard is to be had to the development plan for the purposes of any determination to be
made under the Planning Acts, the determination must be made in accordance with the plan
unless material considerations indicate otherwise.”
There is a complex range of policies and guidance to which the Authority is obliged to have
regard in weighing the merits of these applications. This section of the report outlines this
context in some detail, as it is critical to the determination of the proposals.
General Policy Context
More recent concerns linking peat extraction with carbon sequestration, carbon sinks and
climate change have yet to be fully and explicitly reflected in national planning guidance but the
research and evidence is certainly a material consideration for planning authorities when
determining planning applications. The wider context demonstrates a general direction of travel,
indicating the progressive importance being attached to biodiversity and carbon effects
compared with 1995 when MPG13 was published.
UK Biodiversity Action Plan (August 2007)
The UK Biodiversity Action Plan identifies lowland raised bog as an Annex 1 Habitat and
therefore a Habitat for protection under the Habitats Directive. The UKBAP has also set a target
for the use of alternatives to rise to a minimum of 90% by 2010. The 2005 target has been met
due to the combined efforts of suppliers, growers and retailers in the horticulture sector. The
2010 target was much more challenging and has not yet been met but this action plan aims to
be a catalyst for a greater rate of change in peat replacement.
Safeguarding Our Soils: A Strategy for England (Defra, September 2009)
The Strategy sets out an ambitious vision to improve the sustainable management of soil and
tackle degradation within 20 years. It covers a range of sectors including agriculture, land
management, planning and construction and provides a strategic framework for action that
should facilitate Defra‟s work with delivery partners. The Strategy recognises the role of soil in
carbon storage through its Vision and states that over half of the UK‟s soil carbon store is
contained in peat soils.
A Literature Review of Evidence on Emissions of Methane in Peatlands (Defra, 2009)
The University of Leeds was commissioned by Defra to see how CH4 [methane] emissions from
restored peat lands compare with those from undamaged (natural) peat lands and from
damaged (but unrestored) peat lands. Like carbon dioxide, methane is a carbon gas, but it is
much more potent as a greenhouse gas. Therefore, although methane is emitted from peat
lands in relatively small quantities; its effects must be considered when judging the success of
peatland restoration from the perspective of climate change.
England‟s peatlands: Carbon storage and greenhouse gases (Natural England, March 2010)
This report by Natural England sets out the state of England‟s peat lands and examines how
this carbon store can be managed so that it continues to deliver a range of vital services long
into the future. It estimates that over 3 million tonnes of CO2 is currently being lost to the
atmosphere every year from England‟s peat lands but that peatland regeneration can offer
greenhouse gas benefits and is therefore a valid climate change mitigation measure.
The report contains a series of recommendations which aim to improve understanding of
greenhouse gas emissions from degraded and restored peat lands and ways in which degraded
peat lands can be restored.
Making Space for Nature („the Lawton Review‟ Defra October 2010)
The Lawton Review “Making Space for Nature” was submitted to Defra in September 2010. One
of its recommendations was that “Government should produce a strategy to ensure that we
protect and secure multiple benefits from our carbon rich soils and peatlands, and maximise
their contribution to ecological networks”.
Consultation on Reducing the Horticultural Use of Peat in England (Defra, December 2010)
The consultation by Defra invites views on proposals for a new policy to increase momentum in
the reduction of horticultural peat use in England. This sets out the rationale for future policy
action, summarises the important progress that has already been made (by the growing media
industry, the professional horticulture sector and retailers) and proposes options for a future
policy framework. Consultation responses will inform Defra‟s views on the development of a
new policy. Defra expect that a future policy will be finalised for inclusion in the planned Natural
Environment White Paper, in Spring 2011.
Milestones proposed in the document include :
- all soil improvers to be peat free by 2013
- amateur gardener market for bagged growing media to be peat free by 2020
- professional horticultural and landscape sectors to be peat free by 2030.
The Natural Choice: securing the value of nature (Defra White Paper, June 2011)
This Defra White Paper builds on the Lawton Review and the consultation on reducing peat use.
It sets out the government‟s ambitions to improve the natural environment of England. It
recognises the importance of natural networks and of working on a „landscape scale‟ to achieve
multiple benefits. It identifies a need to restore degraded ecosystems and safeguard ecosystem
services such as carbon storage. It retains the milestones for phasing out peat use by the public
sector, amateur gardeners and professional growers which were included in the 2010
consultation on reducing peat use.
Mosslands Vision – Salford, Wigan and Warrington Councils
Maslen Associates were commissioned in 2006 to complete a Mosslands Vision on behalf of the
Mosslands Action Group. The process was managed by Red Rose Forest and the Mossland
Action Group included representatives from Salford CC, Wigan MBC, Warrington MBC, and
other statutory and third sector partners. The final report was produced in March 2007. This was
not subject to consultation with the landowners and land occupiers on Chat Moss, but
nevertheless represents the views of a range of statutory agencies and voluntary organisations.
The Mosslands Vision seeks to achieve a balance of agricultural, leisure and biodiversity land
uses across Chat Moss. It includes an integrated land use plan which establishes a number of
land use zones. The land use zones include consideration of geology, hydrology/hydrogeology,
ecology, agriculture, public enjoyment and cultural heritage.
The location of the zones has been designed to reduce potential conflicts between differing land
uses. The application site is within the Biodiversity Zone, where the emphasis is on protecting
and enhancing lowland raised bog sites.
Planning Policies and Guidance
Policy and Guidance relevant to mineral extraction proposals at the time of considering this
particular scheme fall under National; Planning Policy Guidance and the more recent Planning
Policy Statements, Regional; the presently active North West Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS)
and Local; the saved policies in the Salford UDP.
Planning Policy Statements (PPSs) and Mineral Policy Statements (MPS) which are
programmed to replace the older Planning Policy Guidance Notes (PPGs) and Minerals Policy
Guidance Notes (MPGs) respectively are prepared by the Government following public
consultation to explain statutory provisions and provide guidance to local authorities and others
on planning policy and the operation of the planning system.
They also explain the relationship between planning policies and other policies which have an
important bearing on issues of development and land use.
Local authorities must take their contents into account in preparing plans. The guidance may
also be relevant to decisions on individual planning applications and appeals.
PPS1: Delivering Sustainable Development - sets out the Government's overarching planning
policies on the delivery of sustainable development through the planning system.
Supplement to PPS1: Planning and Climate Change - sets out how planning should contribute
to reducing carbon emissions and stabilising climate change and take into account the
unavoidable consequences. The policy goes on to state that applicants for planning permission
should show how well their proposals for development contribute to the Government‟s ambition
of a low-carbon economy and how well adapted they are for the expected effects of climate
Paragraph 7 of the supplement alludes to “the fundamental importance of planning in delivering
sustainable development in a changing global context[…]used positively it has a pivotal and
significant role in helping to : […]secure enduring progress against the UK‟s emissions targets ,
by direct influence on energy use and emissions, and in bringing together and encouraging
action by others “
Under Key Planning Objectives, Paragraph 9 refers to the role of all planning authorities in
managing the delivery of spatial strategies that …make a full contribution to delivering the
Government‟s Climate Change Programme and energy policies, and in doing so contribute to
Paragraph 13 specifically refers to the role of regional planning bodies in recognising the
potential of, and encouraging, those land uses and management that help secure carbon sinks.
It is noted that tackling climate change is a key government priority for the planning system.
Where there is any difference in emphasis on climate change between policies in the PPS and
others in the national series, this is intentional and the PPS takes precedence.
PPG2: Green Belts - Minerals can be worked only where they are found and their extraction is a
temporary activity. PPG2 states that Mineral extraction need not be inappropriate development:
it need not conflict with the purposes of including land in Green Belts, provided that high
environmental standards are maintained and that the site is well restored.
PPS9: Biodiversity and Geological Conservation – Produced in 2005, it provides planning
policies on protection of biodiversity and geological conservation through the planning system
and that decisions should be based on up to date information about the environmental
characteristics of the area.
Paragraph 1 states that plan policies and planning decisions should aim to maintain, and
enhance, restore or add to biodiversity and geological conservation interests. In taking
decisions, local planning authorities should ensure that appropriate weight is attached to
designated sites of international, national and local importance; protected species; and to
biodiversity and geological interests within the wider environment.
It makes reference to the importance of sites identified through International Conventions and
European Directives. In this context, the Habitat Regulations and the recognition of degraded
raised bog as an Annex 1 Habitat is particularly relevant.
This is also reflected in Paragraph 11, which identifies that Local Authorities should conserve
other important habitats as identified in the Countryside Rights of Way Act (CRoW 2000)
Section 74 (now Section 41) as Habitats of Principal Importance.
PPS9 also recognises that Local Sites (i.e. Sites of Biological Importance) have a fundamental
role to play in meeting overall national biodiversity targets. The PPS highlights that wildlife sites
(both statutory and non-statutory) should be considered within the context of networks of natural
habitats (Paragraph 12).
Paragraph 15 also recognises the importance of protecting species and habitats on which they
depend and that planning authorities should refuse permission where harm to the species or
their habitats would result, unless the need for, and benefit of, the development, clearly
outweigh that harm.
MPS1: Planning and Minerals – sets out the Government‟s objectives for minerals planning
reflect the requirement to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development, as required
by Section 39 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. These include:
ii. Ensuring, so far as practicable, the prudent, efficient and sustainable use of minerals
and recycling of suitable materials, thereby minimising the requirement for new primary
iii. Conserving mineral resources through appropriate domestic provision and timing of
iv. Safeguarding mineral resources as far as possible.
MPS2: Controlling and Mitigating the Environmental Effects of Mineral Extraction in England –
sets out the principles to be followed in considering the environmental effects of mineral working
and expands in the appendices on the need for community consultation and involvement and
environmental management systems. Mineral Planning Authorities (MPAs) should incorporate
the objectives of sustainable development in minerals planning whilst recognising the potential
conflict between the exploitation of resources and environmental aims. MPAs should
i. Conserve minerals as far as possible
ii. Ensure environmental impacts caused by mineral operations and transport are kept
to a minimum
i. Minimise production of waste and to encourage efficient use of materials
ii. Encourage sensitive working, restoration and aftercare
iii. Safeguard long term capability of best and most versatile agricultural land
iv. Protect areas of nationally designated landscape or archaeological value, cultural
heritage or nature conservation
MPG13: Guidelines for Peat Provision in England – was written in 1995 and provides advice to
mineral planning authorities and the peat extractive industry on the exercise of planning control
over the extraction of peat. It sets out the national picture on peat production, permitted
reserves and consumption for horticultural purposes; and on current amounts, sources and
likely trends in usage of alternatives to peat, over the next 10 years. (Date of publication: July
The guidance comments that the professional horticultural sector are expected to have phased
out peat use for soil improving altogether by 2005, while the peat usage by other market sectors
was to be less than 150,000 cubic metres per annum by this date.
The guidance identifies that the consideration of minerals applications should include;
i. The need for the development in terms of national considerations of mineral supply,
and the impact of permitting the development, or refusing it, on the local economy;
ii. whether alternative supplies can be made available at reasonable cost; and the scope
for meeting the need in some other way;
iii. any detrimental impacts of the proposals on the environment and landscape, and the
extent to which that should be moderated
iv. in the case of extensions to existing workings, the extent to which the proposal would
achieve an enhancement to the local landscape
Under paragraph 66, MPG 13 recognised the importance of the Habitats Directive (1992) and
the need to protect Annex 1 habitats. It did not however, give credence to “degraded raised
bog”, concentrating attention at that time on Active Raised Bogs and Active Blanket Bogs. The
later Habitats Regulations (1994) and the Interpretation Manual of European Union Habitats in
1999, rectified this omission defining Degraded Raised Bog and their role in the conservation of
bog habitats, albeit not as a priority Habitat.
Paragraph 40 recognises the importance of peat alternatives, particularly through the
management of “green waste” streams.
Paragraph 44 of MPG 13 recognises the importance of protecting and enhancing greenhouse
gas sinks and reservoirs. It recognized that undisturbed peatlands store large amounts of
carbon but limited protection of these peatlands to those that have not been significantly
The Development Plan previously comprised the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) and Unitary
Development Plan, however, in a letter dated 27th May 2010 the Secretary of State wrote to all
Local Planning Authorities to advise of the Governments intention to abolish Regional
Strategies. A further statement on the 6th July 2010 resulted in the revocation of Regional
Strategies and thus since this time, for the purposes of determining planning applications, the
Development Plan has been the City of Salford UDP.
On the 10th November 2010 the Chief Planner for the Department of Communities and Local
Government wrote to all chief planners to advise that following a successful challenge that the
revocation of Regional Strategies was unlawful that they now, for the avoidance of doubt, form
part of the Development Plan. The letter goes on to state the fact that the Government remains
committed to abolishing Regional Strategies, as set out in its letter dated 27 th May 2010 should
remain a material consideration.
The Court of Appeal (27th May 2011) has dismissed an appeal made by Cala Homes ruling in
the Government‟s favour. Cala Homes maintained that the Government‟s intention to abolish
RSS could not lawfully be taken into account in any way in relation to planning applications and
appeals at least until such time as the Localism Bill becomes law. This judgement means that
the proposed abolition of RSS can be regarded as a material consideration by local planning
authorities and inspectors, when deciding planning applications and appeals. The weight to be
attached to this material consideration has to have regard to parliamentary approval and the
outcome of the SEA (Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004)
process. The weight to be attached to this matter is one for the decision maker and that will
depend on the particular circumstances at that time.
Policy DP1 - Spatial Principles - states that the following principles (amongst others) underpin
RSS, and that all individual proposals, and all proposals schemes and investment decisions
should adhere to these principles. The policy states that all may be applicable to development
management in particular circumstances;
- Promote Sustainable Economic Development
- Promote Environmental Quality
- Reduce Emissions and Adapt to Climate Change
Policy DP7 – Promote Environmental Quality - states that environmental quality should be
protected and enhanced, especially by (amongst others);
- Understanding and respecting the character and distinctiveness of places and landscapes
- maintaining and enhancing the tranquillity of open countryside and rural areas;
- maintaining and enhancing the quantity and quality of biodiversity and habitat
Policy DP9 – Reduce Emissions and Adapt to Climate Change - states that as an urgent
regional priority, strategies, proposals, schemes and investment decisions should;
- Contribute to reductions in the Region‟s carbon dioxide emissions from all sources.
- Take into account future changes to national targets for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse
The policy states that measures to reduce emissions might include as examples (amongst
- The improved management and rewetting of the regions blanket and raised bog resource.
Policy EM1 – Integrated Enhancement and Protection of the Region‟s Environmental Assets -
states that the region‟s environmental assets should be identified, protected, enhanced and
managed. Proposals should deliver an integrated approach to conserving and enhancing the
landscape, natural environment, historic environment and woodlands of the region.
The policy states that where proposals or schemes affect the region‟s landscape, natural or
historic environment or woodland assets, prospective developers should first avoid loss of or
damage to the assets, then mitigate any unavoidable damage and compensate for loss or
damage through offsetting actions with a foundation of no net loss of resources as a minimum
Policy EM1 (B) : Natural Environment states that proposals should secure a step-change
increase in the region‟s biodiversity resources by contributing to the delivery of national, regional
and local biodiversity objectives and targets for maintaining extent, achieving condition,
restoring and expanding habitats and species populations.
The policy goes on to state that this should be done through protecting, enhancing and
expanding and linking areas for wildlife within and between the locations of the highest
biodiversity resources, including statutory and local wildlife sites, and encouraging the
conservation and expansion of ecological fabric elsewhere.
Policy EM7 – Minerals Extraction - states that plan and strategies should make provision for a
steady and adequate supply of a range of minerals that meet the region‟s apportionments of
The policy goes on to state that plans and strategies should, amongst other things, ensure
sensitive environmental restoration and aftercare of sites including public access, where they
are of amenity value.
In September 2004 the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act brought in major changes to
development plan preparation. The old system of Unitary Development Plans and
Supplementary Planning Guidance is now replaced by the Local Development Framework
(LDF). However, a number of existing UDP policies have been saved until replaced by the new
Greater Manchester Joint Minerals Development Plan document and the emerging Core
Strategy and other LDF documents
ST13 Natural Environmental Assets - states that development that would result in an
unacceptable impact on any of the city's natural environmental assets will not be permitted.
ST14 Global Environment – states that development will be required to minimise its impact on
the global environment. Major development proposals will be required to demonstrate how they
will minimise greenhouse gas emissions.
ST17 Mineral Resources -states that known mineral resources will be safeguarded and their
exploitation will only be permitted where there is no appropriate alternative secondary sources,
and the environmental impact of the mineral workings is minimised.
EN1 Development Affecting the Green Belt – This policy echoes the advice given in PPG2
EN8 Nature Conservation Sites of Local Importance - states that development that would
adversely affect the nature conservation value of a Site of Biological Importance, a Local Nature
Reserve, or a priority habitat for Salford as identified in the Greater Manchester Biodiversity
Action Plan (published 2000, updated 2008), will only be permitted where :
a the benefits of the development clearly outweigh the reduction in the nature conservation
interest for which the site is protected or identified as a priority habitat.
b the detrimental impact on the nature conservation interest of the site has been
minimised as far as is practicable: and
c appropriate mitigation is provided to ensure that the overall nature conservation interest
of the area is not diminished.
Conditions or planning obligations will be used to ensure the protection, enhancement and
management of these sites and habitats. It should be noted that Lowland Raised Bog is a
priority habitat as contained within the Greater Manchester Biodiversity Action Plan.
EN11 Mosslands - The focus for the protection and restoration of lowland raised bog habitat in
Salford is the Mossland Heartland on Chat Moss. This is considered to have the most potential
for securing a significant area of lowland raised bog within the city in the future. Policy EN11 of
the UDP (2004- 2016) states:
Development that would affect land which has the potential to be restored to lowland raised bog
habitat only will be permitted in the Heartland where the development would not prevent that
restoration in the future.
M2 Mineral Development - states (amongst other factors) that planning permission will not be
granted for development involving mineral extraction where it:
would have an unacceptable impact on residential amenity or amenity of other
environmentally sensitive uses;
would have an unacceptable or would cause unacceptable harm to, the water
environment, water resources, surface or groundwater levels or flows;
would have an unacceptable impact on the stability of surrounding land;
would have an unacceptable impact on public rights of way;
would have an unacceptable impact on sites or features of archaeological, ecological,
geological, landscape or recreation value, or on protected species or their habitats, or
does not include a satisfactory scheme of restoration and after care including
progressive working where feasible
EN17 Pollution Control - states that development proposals that would be likely to cause or
contribute towards a significant increase in pollution to the air (including dust pollution), water, or
soil, or by reason of noise, odour, artificial light or vibration, will not be permitted unless they
include mitigation measures commensurate with the scale and impact of the development.
EN18 Protection of Water Resources - states that development will not be permitted where it
would have an unacceptable impact on surface or ground water.
Nature Conservation and Biodiversity Supplementary Planning Document 2006 – This policy
document expands on the policies of the Unitary Development Plan relating to the issues of
nature conservation and biodiversity. It makes due recognition of the UK Priority Habitats found
in Salford, including Lowland Raised Bog (both active bog and those degraded but capable of
restoration), making particular mention of the bare peat deposits within the peat extraction sites
as offering the best opportunities for re-establishing lowland raised bog. It also includes a
specific policy detailing techniques to be used for lowland raised bog restoration (Policy NCB4).
Local Development Framework
Core Strategy – Salford City Council – To 2027
The Core Strategy is the central Development Plan Document (DPD) in the Local Development
Framework. The Core Strategy is a strategic level document which will provide the spatial
planning vision and strategy that will shape the future of Salford.
The core strategy is still at the draft stage and so is of limited weight in the assessment of the
applications, however there are a number of policies within the core strategy relating to peat
extraction which set out the Council‟s Vision over the next 15 years. In particular, the Core
Strategy takes Policy UDP Policy EN11 and (drawing on the ideas encompassed by the
Mosslands Vision) recasts it as the Biodiversity Heartland. The Biodiversity Heartland is that
part of Chat Moss which has the greatest potential to secure major improvements in the areas
biodiversity resources, particularly concentrating on existing lowland bog restoration and
complementary habitats. An area specific approach will help to promote viable habitats, promote
the movement of wildlife and overcome the fragmentation that has been such a feature of the
mossland landscapes in the past.
Policy GB 3 – Chat Moss recognises the Lowland Bog Restoration schemes implemented at
Twelve Yards Road and Cadishead Moss, and the progressive mineral restoration scheme at
Astley Moss East.
The policy goes on to state that the LPA will seek to influence all activities within the Biodiversity
Heartland and to work with adjacent authorities, ecological bodies and interest groups to
provide, maintain and enhance habitats wherever practicable.
The policy states that Planning obligations and other contributions made to offset climate
change impacts may be used to fund lowland raised bog restoration schemes, the policy
recognises that public access and recreational use of Chat Moss should be increased to provide
improved opportunities for formal and informal recreation.
The policy states that development will not be permitted where it would have an adverse impact
on any existing or proposed lowland raised bog restoration schemes, for example in terms of
hydrology and specifically that additional peat extraction will not be permitted within Chat Moss.
With regards to biodiversity, GB3 states that within the Biodiversity Heartland development
proposals should take all practicable opportunities to maintain and enhance the area‟s nature
conservation potential, in accordance with the following hierarchy of habitats (highest priority
- Lowland raised bog
- Other compatible wetland habitats
- Other compatible priority habitats
- Other compatible habitats
Policy B1 – Biodiversity
Policy B1 aims to Increase the size, diversity and interconnectedness of habitats in Salford,
focusing particularly on
1) habitats identified as an international, national, and/or local priority and
2) establishing a Biodiversity Heartland in Chat Moss
The policy states that every development should result in an enhancement of the city‟s
biodiversity resources, focusing on on-site improvements or, where this is not practicable,
priority habitats elsewhere in the city.
In determining the extent to which this is achieved, regard will be had to the following both in
terms of the existing situation and the proposed development:
– the types of habitat and the degree of priority given to them at the European, national and
– the overall area and quality of habitats;
– the level of integration with the wider habitat network,
– the adaptability of the habitats to climate change and
– the ability of the habitats to support priority/protected species.
Policy MN1- Minerals
Policy MN1 sets out the Authorities strategy for providing a sustainable supply of minerals for
development needs whilst protecting and enhancing the environment. This is to be done
through the safeguarding of minerals resources and providing for appropriate provision.
Specifically, policy MN1 does not permit any further extraction of Peat on Chat Moss. This is in
recognition of the improvements and restoration schemes already taking place within the
Biodiversity Heartland and the importance attached to any remaining bare peat as a Habitat
recognised under Annex I of the Habitats Directive.
Development Plan Documents
Greater Manchester Minerals Development Plan Draft Publication (March 2011) -
The Draft Publication of the GM Minerals Development Plan aims to reduce the reliance on
primary minerals (those dug out of the ground) through better use of recycled aggregates and
secondary mineral products, such as fuel ash for building materials. It states locations where
minerals extraction may take place, safeguards mineral resources with potential for future
extraction and provides guidelines for environmental and resource protection, including
sustainable transportation of minerals.
The Preferred Approach report (November 2010) supporting the plan states: “The Minerals Plan
recognises that there are sufficient extant planning permissions for peat extraction to meet the
needs of the horticultural industry and will therefore not allocate sites for the extraction of peat. It
was revealed at the Examination in Public for RSS (October 2006) that existing planning
permissions for peat in the North West of England run until 2042 and that this is sufficient to
meet demand. In the light of this stakeholders have suggested that a policy preventing
additional extraction of peat should be included within the Minerals Plan.”
Policy 4 of the draft Publication document relates specifically to peat
Planning permission for peat extraction will only be granted where :
- the site has been previously worked for peat; and
- the removal of peat is physically required to facilitate restoration ; and
- the site is to be restored to lowland raised bog; and
- only peat physically required to implement that restoration is removed.
The GM Minerals Development Plan is only at draft publication stage and following consultation
will not be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate until early 2012. Policies reflect the
developing national policy framework, none more so than that relating to peat where there is a
recognition of the momentum towards peat substitutes and its importance as biodiversity habitat
and carbon store.
Applications of this nature raise a range of planning considerations from general principles to
the particular localised impact of the development. This section reviews the main issues
considered to be of relevance to deliberations on the merits of the proposals in order to reach a
The principle of minerals extraction has been established in the past through the grant of the
original permissions. This proposal does not extend the site area or allow a depth of peat
extraction over or above that originally granted but applies to extend the time for peat harvesting
operations for another 15 years. This would allow the extraction of peat which would not
otherwise be permitted as there are no permissions in place that allow for the extraction of peat.
Although the principle of peat harvesting has been established in the past, this report assesses
relevant material and substantive changes in circumstances since the original grant of planning
permission. The report also discusses whether sufficient information has been provided in order
to fully assess the significant environmental impacts of the extension of time.
The main issues to be considered were agreed at the Environmental Statement scoping stage
and form the main part of the Environmental Statement submitted with the applications. On
receipt of consultee responses following the initial consultation process a request for
clarification/further information was made in writing to the applicant.
Subsequently a response was provided in the form of a new Environmental Statement and a
second round of consultation was undertaken. Further information was received on the 20th May
which updated the Environmental Statement and further consultation on this information was
undertaken. It is the updated Environmental Statement and related consultee responses that
are referred to in the assessment unless specifically stated otherwise.
There has been extensive consultation with interested bodies, the local community and private
individuals on the applications. It is considered that within the confines of the system, in which
the Authority is obliged to operate, there has been adequate opportunity for all sides to make
representation on the applications.
The analysis here is divided into two sections. The first section looks at the principle of peat
extraction, particularly in light of recent changes in government strategy. The second section
examines the details of the impacts of the proposals.
In this particular case the main planning considerations are:
A. The Principle of peat extraction
– Material changes in Policy
a) MPG13 and Use of Peat Alternatives
b) MPG13 and Climate Change / Carbon Storage
c) MPG13 and Peat Bog Biodiversity
– Development Plan Policy
– Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
B. Detailed Impacts of the Proposals as set out in the Environmental Statement
1. Impacts of the Extraction and Restoration Scheme
2. Impacts of Proposals with respect to Nature and Habitat Conservation
3. Impact of Proposals with respect to Hydrology
4. Impact of Proposal with Respect to Restoration
5. Carbon and Climate Change
6. Landscape and Visual Impacts
8. Dust / Air Quality
9. Highways and Traffic
10. Mitigation and Alternatives
11. Other Matters
12 Summary / Conclusion
i) Material Changes in Policy with regards to Carbon Emissions
ii) Material Changes in Policy with Regards to Biodiversity
iii) Sufficient information to assess the impacts of the applications
A. The Principle of Peat Extraction
Planning permission for peat harvesting on the proposal site was granted with conditions limiting
the duration of the permissions until 31 December 2010. The planning permission also required
2 metres of peat to be left on site and for the site then to be restored to amenity.
There are parts of the site that still has a greater than 2 metre depth to be extracted. It is not
unusual for minerals operators to apply for extensions of time to complete extraction due to
The principle of peat extraction on this site has been established in the past and in this regard
the sites covered by the applications are not „new sites‟. As the applications were submitted
prior to the end date permissions, it is recognised that no additional peat than that originally
permitted would be removed if an extension of time is granted.
Nevertheless, although these are Section 73 applications, the granting of any time extension
would have the same effect as granting new permissions for peat extraction, because no further
peat can be lawfully extracted on a commercial basis without the granting of the time extension
Since the original grant of planning permissions in 1981, 1988 and 1991 there have been shifts
in both planning and national policy with respect to:
a) promoting a reduction in the use of peat for horticulture purposes, towards
sustainable soil improvers.
b) a recognition of Climate Change, the necessity to reduce carbon emissions and the
role that planning has in this process.
c) the importance of peat bogs, both active and degraded, as Annex 1 habitats,
designated as part of the European Habitats Directive and critical for protection by
the planning system.
It is these changes in policy emphasis to which the report now turns.
Material Changes in Policy
a) MPG13 and Use of Peat Alternatives
Two of the three planning applications for which an extension of time is now sought were
granted prior to the emergence of MPG13 in 1995. The last application granted in 1997 only
concerned a change to the way in which the peat was being harvested from block cutting to
surface milling. MPG 13 has not been updated during the past 16 years.
MPG 13 introduced the issue of replacing peat with alternative materials. In that sense, there
was an implicit recognition that the peat extraction industry had a limited life.
Paragraph 40 talks about the management of “green wastes” and active promotion of
composting. It raises the need for greater resource efficiency and the role of the Waste Strategy
in working with industry to overcome barriers to compost based products. The applicant,
William Sinclair already sells significant quantities of a compost based peat alternative.
Paragraph 45 of Mineral Planning Guidance 13 (MPG13) states that „the demands of the
horticultural user markets should be met by a combination of home produced peat, imported
peat, and alternative materials. The Government's commitment towards sustainable
development and using resources prudently means that unnecessary wastage of resources
should be avoided.‟
In looking at the quantities of peat required, MPG13 primarily planned across a 10 year
timescale, to 2005. The figure of 1000 hectares additional extraction needed over 10-20 years
was “an estimate based on current market conditions” (MPG13, paragraph 41, referred to in
paragraph 3.23 of the Environmental Statement). The targets set in MPG 13 were for 40% of
the total market requirements for soil improvers and growing media to be supplied by non-peat
materials within the next 10 years (2005)
The targets set by MPG13 in terms of non-peat alternatives have already been exceeded. A
further target was set by the UK Biodiversity Action Plan for the use of peat alternatives to rise
to a minimum of 90% by 2010.
15 years on from 1995, market conditions are clearly very different and the government in the
form of Defra has set out a clear intention to accelerate the speed of replacement by peat
alternatives over the coming years. In December 2010, it published a “Consultation on Reducing
the Horticultural Use of Peat in England” .
This proposes phasing out the horticultural use of peat entirely by 2030, with earlier targets for
soil improvers, the public sector and amateur gardeners. These proposals envisage a significant
reduction of peat use within the next few years. The amount of peat used in the UK is expected
to decline dramatically in the next few years, with relatively little peat required after 2020, when
it is phased out for the amateur gardening market.
Paragraph 4.5 of the consultation document states;
Looking ahead, it is expected that all minerals planning authorities will take into account the
proposed phase out of peat use in the horticultural sector and will therefore not grant new
applications for extraction. Under the proposals set out in this consultation document, the
horticulture sector is projected to use a further 17.4 million cubic metres of peat (equivalent to 6
years worth of peat at current levels of use) before its use is phased out (in 2020 for the
amateur sector and 2030 at the latest for the professional sector).
Members‟ attention, in particular, is drawn to the remainder of paragraph 4.5, which states;
Any future peat requirements should therefore be easily accommodated from existing extraction
sites, and it is expected that new sites will not need to be opened up to meet expected market
demands. However, if considered necessary, it would also be possible to legislatively prohibit
the extraction of peat from any new lowland peat sites, where permission to extract has not
already been granted.
Although this is not a new site, it is noted that the developer wants to extract for a further 15
The suggestion that future peat requirements can be easily accommodated from existing
extraction sites is interesting and suggests that in terms of the national consumption of peat, 12
Yards Road may not be critical in the future given the role of other sites which have a longer
period for extraction. Para 1.21 of the DEFRA Consultation Paper reveals that only 32% of peat
used for horticulture is produced domestically, within the UK. The other 68% is already being
imported from outside the UK and this, presumably will continue.
Clearly, Defra publications do not form part of National Planning Policy Guidance. Nevertheless,
the consultation document and the final White Paper demonstrate a continued shift in
momentum towards the shrinkage of the peat industry, the seeds of which were actually sown
by MPG 13 itself in 1995. It is considered that arguments put forward by the applicants about
continuing peat use have therefore been significantly weakened by the publication of this Defra
document which confirms the phase out of peat usage for the amateur market by 2020 and the
professional market by 2030. It is noted that as the document has been put forward as a
consultation document it has limited weight in policy terms. Its importance is that it reflects the
downward pressure applied to peat extraction seen in MPG13 being continued and accelerated.
b) MPG13 and Climate Change / Carbon Storage
MPG 13, even in 1995, recognised the importance of peat bogs as stores of carbon. Paragraph
44 notes the requirement under Article 4 of the Framework Convention on Climate Change to
adopt policies and take measures to protect and enhance greenhouse gas sinks and reservoirs.
The presumption in MPG 13 at that time was against the exploitation of peatlands which had not
been significantly damaged.
Since MPG13 in 1995 however, the impetus towards reducing carbon emissions as a means of
combating climate change has changed dramatically. The Climate Change Act introduced the
national requirement to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. Protecting carbon stores
such as peat bogs would be a contribution towards this goal.
The report; “England‟s Peatlands: Carbon Storage and Greenhouse Gases” (Natural England,
March 2010) estimates that due to degradation, approximately 3 million tonnes of CO2 is
currently being lost to the atmosphere every year from England‟s peat lands but that peatland
regeneration can offer greenhouse gas benefits and is therefore a valid climate change
The role of planning and the control of development in tackling climate change is clearly an
important consideration in Planning Policy Statement 1 and its supplement: Planning and
Planning Policy Statement 1 (PPS1) (2005) states that „planning decisions should be based on:
up-to-date information on the environmental characteristics of the area;
the potential impacts, positive as well as negative, on the environment of development
proposals (whether direct, indirect, cumulative, long-term or short-term); and,
recognition of the limits of the environment to accept further development without
Planning Policy Statement: Planning and Climate Change – Supplementary to Planning Policy
Statement 1 (2007) notes that „climate change is the greatest long-term challenge facing the
world today‟ and that „addressing climate change is therefore the Government‟s principal
concern for sustainable development‟ (paragraph 3). It goes on to state in paragraphs 28 and
29 with regard to climate change and the determination of planning applications that;
“In the interim period before the development plan is updated to reflect the policies in this PPS,
planning authorities should ensure proposed development is consistent with the policies in this
PPS and avoid placing requirements on applicants that are inconsistent. Where proposals are
inconsistent with the policies in this PPS, consideration should be given to how they could be
amended to make them acceptable or, where this is not practicable, to refusing planning
Importantly, Planning and Climate Change, the Supplement to PPS1 specifically states: “Where
there is any difference in emphasis on climate change between the policies in this PPS and
others in the national series, this is intentional and this PPS takes precedence.” It is therefore
considered in our view that the requirements of PPS1 with respect to carbon storage and
mitigation would take precedence over the old guidance contained in MPG 13 which referred
only to undisturbed peatlands as important “greenhouse gas sinks”.
The PPS1 Supplement (paragraph 13) states that “RSS should recognise the potential of, and
encourage, those land uses and land management practices that help secure carbon sinks”.
The Northwest RSS – policy DP9 indicates the improved management and rewetting of the
regions blanket and raised bog resource as one way to reduce emissions. Actively rewetting
bogs indicates a significant commitment which is a step change from the position when MPG13
Evidence for the important role of soils as a carbon store is provided by “Safeguarding Our
Soils: A Strategy for England” (Defra, September 2009). It recognises the role of soil in carbon
storage through its vision and states that over half of the UK‟s soil carbon store is contained in
peat soils. It states “Preventing emissions from soil and exploring how to increase existing
stores of carbon can make an important contribution to meeting the Government‟s emission
reduction targets and carbon budgets, introduced by the Climate Change Act 2008”. The report
contains a series of recommendations which aim to improve understanding of greenhouse gas
emissions from degraded and restored peat lands and ways in which degraded peat lands can
Paragraph 4.3 of the document; “Consultation on Reducing the Horticultural Use of Peat in
England” (Defra, December 2010) states that the proposed national planning framework
„presents an opportunity to more strongly emphasise the importance for greenhouse gas
mitigation of protecting carbon stores such as peat, in addition to maintaining the existing
protection of lowland peats.‟ . It is noted that whilst the national planning framework is not yet
finalised, that the direction of travel is made very clear.
Paragraph 4.5 of the consultation has been quoted by many consultation respondents in
relation to the Chat Moss planning applications, in particular the statement that; „Looking ahead,
it is expected that all minerals planning authorities will take into account the proposed phase out
of peat use in the horticultural sector and will therefore not grant new applications for extraction.
However, it is acknowledged that this is still only a consultation document and is by no means
certain that its results would necessarily be reflected in future national policy guidance.
However, it is clearly expected that the proposed phasing out of peat use is becoming of
increasing weight as material consideration when making planning decisions.
c) MPG13 and Peat Bog Biodiversity
MPG 13 recognised the importance of peat bogs for wildlife, but the emphasis lay in the
protection of the best sites which had specific international status and /or national designation.
Paragraph 66 makes specific reference to the Habitats Directive which was adopted in 1992,
but only with respect to Active Raised Bogs and Active Blanket Bogs, later reflected in
designation as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC). MPG 13 explicitly failed to recognise the
importance of the degraded bog habitat, which was also considered as an Annex 1 Habitat.
In the 15 years since MPG13 was published, extraction has ceased on most sites designated
for nature conservation. The focus of the debate has shifted in recent years to recognise the
value of a wider range of peatland sites, including those currently under extraction. By 1999, the
Interpretation Manual for the Habitat Regulations formalised this recognition, acknowledging
degraded bog and bare peat as an Annex 1 Habitat which should also be used as part of the
designation framework for Special Areas of Conservation.
Clearly the application site comprises bare peat. Nevertheless, Natural England, as statutory
consultee, are clear in their response that they consider this site to qualify as an Annex 1
The status of the site has been the subject of much contention between the applicants, the
consultees and the Local Planning Authority. It has now been agreed between all parties that
the site meets the criteria of an Annex 1 under the Habitats Directive, and that the site falls
within the definition of lowland raised bog and is a UK BAP (Biodiversity Action Plan) Habitat.
However, the applicant has submitted further information with the submission on the 20th May
2011 which re-assesses the sites significance in terms of the sites status at local, regional or
national level, this relates both to Twelve Yards Road SBI as well as to the extraction site itself.
In relation to Twelve Yards Road SBI little further information is given but it considered practical
to include it in this part of the report.
Biodiversity Value of Twelve Yards Road SBI
The applicant agrees with NE that the Twelve Yards Road SBI is valuable in a regional context,
and identifies aspects of the habitat which provide the reasons for this valuation.
The applicant sets out the guidelines used for assessing the biodiversity of the site which it
states is consistent with good practice and endorsed by English Nature (Now NE) and the EA.
- The Council notes that the Twelve Yards Road SBI is a Grade A SBI, and as such, in itself, the
site is of county importance.
Biodiversity Value of Cut-over Raised Bog Habitats at Chat Moss (The Extraction Site)
The applicant, further to comments made by NE, The EA, GMEU and LWT accepts the site
does meet the definition of an Annex 1 Habitat.
However, the applicant disagrees that the bare peat habitat such as this is necessarily valuable
at an international scale. This is due to value of the site in terms of community importance is
defined as those sites which contribute significantly to the maintenance or restoration at a
favourable conservation status of a natural Habitat in Annex 1.
In view of this, the applicant states that not all sites meeting the definitions of Annex 1 are of
European Value. The Applicant goes on to re-appraise the site to support the applicants original
assertion that the site is valuable on a regional scale using the IEEM (2006) guidelines.
Re-Valuation of Bare Peat Habitats at Chat Moss
The applicant states that the site does not carry any formal designation and they present this as
a table showing assessment against the selection criteria for nature conservation designations
.i.e. Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Site of
Biological Importance (SBI) the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) and the „Ratcliffe Criteria‟
An assessment is then undertaken against these criteria and concludes that it is accepted that
Chat Moss meets the European Directive, Annex I habitat definition of a degraded raised bog,
i.e. the site is considered restorable in 30 years. The applicant also considers that the site
meets the broad habitat definition of Lowland Raised Bog in the UK BAP. However the applicant
concludes that the site does not meet the criteria for designation as a Special Area of
Conservation, Site of Special Scientific Interest or Site of Biological Importance.
The applicant states that the assessment against the „Radcliffe Criteria‟ highlights the sites
potential for restoration and its position within the wider networks of Lowland Raised Bogs within
Lancashire and Merseyside.
The applicant concludes that the restoration of the site would potentially reduce fragmentation of
buffering designated sites and that the site is considered valuable at a regional level, this is
consistent with the applicant‟s original assessment of the sites‟ value.
Revised Information – Responses from the main consultees.
Natural England state their concern that the importance of the site has not been fully
recognised, NE note that the applicant now recognise the site as an Annex 1 Habitat but
disagree with their conclusion that the site is of only regional value.
NE go on to state that the UK-wide assessment of favourable conservation status for each
Annex 1 Habitat does not only relate to the component of the Habitat area or species population
to be found within Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), but to the totality of the habitats and
species throughout the UK
The conclusion given by NE is that whilst the site cannot be considered to have European value
individually, that it does have an important role to play in contributing to the achievement of
favourable conservation status for the Annex 1 habitat in the UK as a whole.
Natural England also note that the Habitat is listed as being of principal importance for
conservation in England under section 41 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities
(NERC) Act 2006 and that the Government intends this list should be used to prioritise action in
particular by Local Planning Authorities to further biodiversity and conservation aims of PPS9.
NE conclude that all undesignated examples of such UKBAP Habitat (as is the case here)
warrant prioritisation for restoration in the UK, and that Chat Moss is critical to restoring lowland
NE include evidence that at the 2006 Conservation Status Assessment reporting round to the
EC, the Annex 1 Habitat was judged to be unfavourable, but improving at a UK level, but was
improving as a result of restoration of previous cut-over sites such as those at Thorne Moors
and Fens and the Whixall Mosses . NE state that this „improving‟ situation would only be
sustained if sites such as Chat Moss are restored to active raised bog which is an EC priority
It is noted by NE that „Degraded Raised Bog‟ is the only Annex 1 example of a degraded
habitat, in recognition of the very small remaining area of active bog. NE state that the
restoration of the site needs to be considered within the context of the Manchester Mosses
SAC, the viability of which will be greatly enhanced by larger areas of the once very extensive
bogs of the Mersey Basin. NE state that the area of the existing SAC is relatively small to the
area of deep peat present here
To summarise, NE suggest that the site as meeting the criteria of an Annex 1 Habitat, being a
UK BAP Habitat, and the inclusion on the Section 41 list of the 2006 NERC Act would suggest
that the site has considerable conservation status at a national level.
The Environment Agency state that although the applicant accepts that the site does meets
the definition of an Annex 1 Habitat, the applicant does not consider that the site can be
considered an Annex 1 Habitat because of the site‟s size.
The EA refer discussion of the issue to Natural England
GMEU state that given the lack of agreement between the parties on this issue will remain and,
as recognised in the Officer‟s report, is a balanced issue, which would be tested in any
subsequent Inquiry should the members of Panel make a decision to refuse the application and
it is subsequently appealed. The current information does not help to resolve this issue.
GMEU have provided both formal comments and internal advice to the Council on this issue
during the consideration of this application. There are a number of additional issues which can
be considered in relation to the current information.
GMEU concur that the IEEM (2006) approach to valuation is the most relevant to the purposes
but that IEEM Guidelines also state that where sites do not meet the criteria for designation at a
specific level, the ecologist may consider local context and take into account potential value.
The applicant accepts that the application site meets the criteria as an Annex I habitat (Habitats
Directive) and they consider it of regional value.
The Annex 1 Habitat includes degraded lowland raised bogs both within designated SACs and
outside those sites. There is a UK obligation under the European Habitats Directive to report on
the extent and condition of this habitat in totality (both in designated and non designated sites
(Article 17). The latest report on this habitat was presented in 2007 (JNCC).
In parallel with comments made by NE, GMEU state that it is also of significance that the raised
bog habitat is an unusual Annex I Habitat in that it lists degraded examples of a habitat type.
That is those which still retain a suitable peat substrate to allow restoration to the Priority Annex
I habitat (active bog) and that this includes bare peat. This is due to the critical link between the
presence of a suitable peat resource on which the active habitat is formed or can be restored.
Maps available of JNCC‟s web site on both the designated SACs and the extent of the UK
resource demonstrate that the distribution of this habitat is not even across the UK and that in
England the concentration is largely within the North West.
Within the region (Lancashire, Merseyside & Greater Manchester) research has been done (Dr
P Thomas 2004) which places a suite of degraded bog sites within the local context.
In relation to the application site it is also important to consider the local context of the network
of habitats adjacent to the Manchester Mosses SAC, the number of adjacent SBIs supporting
the same Annex 1 habitat and other sites which meet the Annex I criteria but may not have
nature conservation designations (i.e. other extraction sites with extant planning permissions).
GMEU state that the figures quoted in the SLR letter are inaccurate (table 1). Natural England in
their original response (covering letter dated 15 June 2010) stated that 7% of the resource is
within 50m of the application site. A rough reckoning (using the figures from the 2004 report and
the application site‟s size) shows the application site itself would represent between 6 - 6.5% of
the studies‟ area.
The argument, presented in the applicant‟s additional information, that the application site is not
designated as either a SSSI or an SBI is not viewed as a relevant starting point to the current
evaluation or debate. Both these site designation systems apply criteria (“Ratcliffe criteria”)
which are used to select „naturally‟ functioning semi-natural ecosystems of habitats which
support the best examples of suites of species and habitat communities. By its very description
(European Habitats Interpretation Manual 1999) degraded bog is a non-functioning/ severely
impaired „natural‟ system and it includes examples of land-uses which would not be considered
semi-natural habitats (e.g. bare peat, forestry or improved pasture) as well as those which
support semi-natural habitats. Where such sites do support semi-natural vegetation either at
various stages of formation towards active raised bog or other valuable qualifying habitats they
may be selected for designation under the SSSI and SBI systems. It is also recognised that
some SBIs do also additionally support areas of bare peat within the matrix of qualifying semi-
natural habitats that have been selected within the site‟s boundaries.
Although the applicant recognises that the site meets the broad definition of UK Priority BAP
Habitat, the latest information does not acknowledge that this is translated into the planning
system via the identification of Habitats of Principal Importance under CRoW 2000/NERC 2006
(section 74 and 41 species respectively).
In summary GMEU state the following;
skewed distribution of the European Annex I Habitat within the UK and England
the UK‟s obligations to report on the distribution & condition of both designated and non-
designated Annex I Habitats
the applicant‟s own recognition that the application site fulfils Annex I Habitat criteria and
that it is of regional importance
its place within the wider biodiversity landscape
Given this, it remains GMEU‟s opinion that the impact assessment has under-valued the
importance of the application site.
GMEU conclude that considering this within the Policy Framework; PPS9 indicates a hierarchy
of decision making for planning authorities from avoidance of impacts, through consideration of
alternative solutions/sites to finally mitigation & compensation. PPS9 also recognises the
importance of the hierarchy of evaluation. GMEU advise that despite a continuing disagreement
regarding the biodiversity evaluation of the site the policy framework of PPS9 should still be
given due weight within the Officer‟s report and placed in the balance along other policy
considerations. It is our view that it should therefore continue to support the reasons for refusal.
Lancashire Wildlife Trust have stated that NE‟s advice should be sought with regards to the
value of the Twelve Yards Road SBI, but that the identification of the site as meeting the criteria
of an Annex 1 Habitat would make the site of European importance. The Trust also disagree
that the peat habitats on the extraction site are not valuable at an international scale, and goes
onto make the following points on the significance of the site;
The site is of community importance and represents a significant amount of potentially
restorable mossland within the region and is important due to it being positioned within
the middle of the Manchester Mossland SAC
The rescue and restoration of the site would represent a major benefit to the regions
mossland habitats. Without this the Manchester Mossland SAC will remain, isolated,
fragmented and vulnerable.
Continuing extraction on the site is preventing the growth of vegetation on the and
meeting the criteria of SBI designation.
The use of the Ratcliffe criteria in the assessment of the value of the habitat is
inappropriate, due to this being out of date and outmoded criteria
The Trust maintains that potential of the site to support bog vegetation is what makes it
so important, and that the site has importance in linking other mosses together.
The submitted information underestimates the value of the extraction site in terms of its
area, the site represents at least 12% of available and restorable peatland within the
Trust‟s area. Figures presented by the applicant in this regard are inaccurate
The UK BAP report states that there are only 500ha of lowland bog remaining in
England, not including bare peat sites currently under extraction. Restoration to bog of
the Chat Moss site would represent 15% of the current habitat extent within England and
1.25% within the UK which is highly significant.
The suggestion that Chat Moss is small compared to designated SACs within the area is
The Trust are pleased that SLR acknowledge the importance of the site relative to
Manchester Moses SAC and its high potential conservation value.
In view of the above comments it is clear that there is continuing difference of opinion between
the applicants and the consultees over the status of both the Twelve Yards Road SBI and the
extraction site itself. However it is clear that the sites both meet the criteria of Annex 1 if of the
Habitats Directive and are a UKBAP priority habitat.
The status of the bare peat on the extraction site as an Annex 1 Habitat, should be seen as an
important material consideration in balancing the benefits of mineral extraction against its
There is a general acceptance by the ecological experts that the greater the depth of peat the
greater the potential to establish lowland bog habitat as an afteruse based on stable
hydrological conditions. It is therefore considered that this valuable habitat is best protected by
maximising the depth of peat remaining, even if there is not the opportunity to implement a bog
restoration scheme at the current time. Retaining the current peat depths is still more likely to
result in successful restoration to active bog habitat (even if this is at a later date), in
comparison to continued extraction followed by restoration on shallower peat.
Since MPG 13, the importance placed on biodiversity has been reinforced by Planning Policy
Statement 9 (PPS9) – Biodiversity and Geological Conservation (2005). It states in paragraph
1 that, „decisions should be based on up to date information about the environmental
characteristics of the area. Planning decisions should aim to maintain, enhance, restore or add
to biodiversity and geological conservation interests. Appropriate weight should be attached to
designated sites of international, national and local importance; protected species; and to
biodiversity and geological interests in the wider environment. Planning decisions should
prevent harm to biodiversity and geological conservation interests. Where planning permission
would result in harm to those interests local planning authorities have to be satisfied that the
development cannot reasonably be located on any alternative sites that would result in less or
no harm. In the absence of no alternatives adequate mitigation measures should be put in
place. Where a planning decision would result in significant harm to biodiversity, which cannot
be prevented or adequately mitigated appropriate compensation measures should be sought.
Failing this permission should be refused.‟
The extent to which these matters have been satisfactorily discharged are dealt with in later
sections of the report.
To summarise this assessment of the material changes in policy, the applicant has placed a
great deal of weight on MPG 13 as the justification for the extension to the peat working at Chat
Moss. It is undoubtedly true that MPG 13 is still in force. MPG13 does in itself introduce issues
connected with the extraction of peat such as the use of peat alternatives, the value of peat
bogs as carbon stores, and the protection of biodiversity, but more recent Planning Guidance in
the form of PPS1 and PPS9 takes consideration of these issues much further.
The documentation and consultations being undertaken by Defra and its Key Agencies also
provide a strong pointer towards an inexorable shift in national policy away from peat extraction
towards recognition of climate change and the demand for more carbon neutral forms of
development and the protection of habitats considered at risk.
Development Plan Policy
Apart from national policy guidance, the spatial planning framework is a very important
At the local level the site is within the “Heartland” area covered by Salford UDP Policy EN11
The policy states that:
“Development that would affect land which has the potential to be restored to lowland raised
bog habitat will be permitted […] in the Heartland, only where the development would not
prevent that restoration in the future”
Paragraphs 12.34 and 12.35 of the Reasoned Justification explain that:
„The city council is committed to securing the restoration of lowland raised bog habitat, and the
protection of the wider mosslands area, whilst also ensuring that a sustainable and successful
rural economy is maintained… Agricultural practices and mineral extraction over many decades
have caused serious damage to the lowland raised bog habitat of the Chat Moss area of
Salford, but in many cases there is the potential to reverse that damage.‟
Policy EN11 should also be read in conjunction with UDP Policy M2. This lists the criteria
against which minerals applications must be assessed : - „Planning permission will not be
granted for development involving mineral extraction, mineral exploration, the disposal of
mineral waste, or the provision of aggregate depots where it:............ would have an
unacceptable impact on sites or features of archaeological, ecological, geological, landscape or
recreation value, or on protected species or their habitats or where it does not include a
satisfactory scheme of restoration and aftercare, including progressive restoration where
The thrust of the current Development Plan policy has been to approve additional peat workings
provided that they were able to demonstrate protection or appropriate mitigation of existing sites
/ habitats of wildlife importance value and were able to demonstrate successful restoration,
principally to lowland bog habitat.
However, taking into account the status of the bare peat as a Greater Manchester and UK
priority habitat under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, UDP Policy EN8 is also relevant. Under
this policy, development which would adversely affect the nature conservation value of a priority
habitat for Salford as identified in the Greater Manchester Biodiversity Action Plan, will only be
permitted where a number of criteria are met. These include a requirement that the benefits of
the development clearly outweigh the reduction in the nature conservation interest for which the
site is identified as a priority habitat. As explained in the previous section, in this case, a
reduction in nature conservation interest would result from reducing the depth of remaining peat
through continued extraction.
The emerging Core Strategy takes a firmer approach to peat workings. Part of Policy GB3
states that :
“ Anywhere in Chat Moss – Development will not be permitted where it would have an adverse
impact on any existing or proposed lowland raised bog restoration schemes, for example in
terms of hydrology. Additional peat extraction will not be permitted within Chat Moss.”
However, the Core Strategy is still at draft stage and is of very little weight when making
decisions on planning applications.
Similarly, whilst the emerging Greater Manchester Minerals DPD contains a restrictive policy in
relation to peat extraction, it too is only at publication stage and cannot be considered at this
time to carry significant weight on which to base decisions on planning applications.
On that basis Policy EN11 contained in the UDP 2004-16 – Policies saved beyond 21st June
2009, must be considered to take precedence.
Locally, Chat Moss has been recognised in a Greater Manchester context as a significant green
infrastructure resource (Towards a Green Infrastructure for Greater Manchester AGMA 2008
and Ecological Framework for Greater Manchester GMEU 2008) and the opportunity to recreate
a national priority habitat on a large scale, which would reverse the fragmentation of lowland
mosses and secure their long term survival.
Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Climate Change is a key area where policy has progressed significantly since the granting of
permissions in 1994, 1997 and publication of MPG13 in 1995. PPS1 and its Supplement
“Planning and Climate Change” has brought the issue to the heart of planning policy and the
role of planning in delivering Sustainable Development.
The Climate Change Act has set the national target of achieving an 80% reduction in carbon
emissions by 2050. “Planning for a Sustainable Future” has emphasised the fundamental
importance of planning in delivering sustainable development in a changing global context. The
inference of this is that the planning system should be used to reduce carbon emissions through
the way in which it plans for and manages development.
The report by Natural England “England‟s Peatlands: Carbon Storage and Greenhouse Gases”
estimates that 3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide is being lost to the atmosphere every year. It
states that peatland regeneration can offer greenhouse gas benefits and is therefore a valid
climate change mitigation measure.
The proposal involves the extraction of a significant amount of peat. When the peat is extracted
it dries out and oxidises resulting in the emission of carbon dioxide. When the peat remains wet,
it remains locked as a carbon store.
There is considerable debate between the applicant and consultees regarding the figures
presented within the ES. However, it is clear that further extraction of peat would result in a
considerable release of carbon in the form of carbon dioxide.
It would be perverse if PPS1 were only a material consideration with respect to securing future
levels of built energy efficiency, but was not a material consideration when assessing
developments such as peat extraction which would release the carbon equivalent of a
significant proportion of new homes.
If the applications were to be refused, the entire remaining peat body would be protected from
further extraction and the release of carbon dioxide emissions to air would be limited to that
associated with the restoration of the former peat workings to amenity use. The view of the
extractor is that this would be approximately 37,000 tonnes, a net saving of at least 133,000
tonnes of CO2.
Issues regarding the Carbon budget including the applicant‟s position are discussed further in
section 5 of this report.
Summary of Policy Analysis
It should be noted that the applications are not new virgin sites for peat extraction; but are an
approach for an extension of time to enable the site to be worked to the depth permitted by
previous planning decisions.
If the applications were refused, no further peat could be extracted and the land would be
restored to amenity use as specified in the existing planning permissions. The applicant
contends that amenity use would not include bog habitat. The current applications are therefore
presented by the applicant as an opportunity to secure the restoration and subsequent aftercare
of the site to bring it in accordance with the requirements of Salford UDP Policy EN11 and EN8.
The opportunity to secure restoration of the site must be balanced against the likelihood of this
restoration being achieved as well as any additional harm which may be caused by extending
the life of extraction operations to 2025, such as the release of significant quantities of carbon
dioxide to the atmosphere, the ability to protect the existing Site of Biological Importance and
the continued damage to the Annex 1 habitat.
The peat supply and demand figures contained within MPG13 are out of date. There are no
replacement figures contained within policy, although the 2010 Defra consultation on reducing
the horticultural use of peat gives a clear indication of the direction of travel. As noted above, it
was considered at the RSS Examination in Public (2006) that there were sufficient peat
permissions at that time.
Climate change has been increasing in prominence as an issue which planning must take into
account. This is commented on within the supplementary note to PPS1, which notes the
importance of land uses which secure carbon sinks. Moreover, the recent Defra consultation
notes that the proposed national planning framework “presents an opportunity to more strongly
emphasise the importance for greenhouse gas mitigation of protecting carbon stores such as
peat, in addition to maintaining the existing protection of lowland peats” (paragraph 4.4).
Another shift in planning policy since the permissions on the site were reviewed in 1994 and
1997 is the recognition of degraded bog, capable of restoration within a 30 year period, as an
Annex 1 Habitat, protected under the European Habitats Directive. The status of degraded
raised bog as an Annex 1 Habitat means that bare peat is worthy of protection both for its own
sake, but also for the potential that it has to be restored to a lowland raised bog habitat within a
30 year period. Whilst, this does not invalidate UDP Policy EN11 whose intention is to permit
peat workings where it would not prevent restoration in the future, it does demand very clear
evidence and confidence that the restoration proposal following peat working will deliver a
lowland raised bog and a long term biodiversity outcome worthy of its Annex 1 definition.
There has been a clear steer in national policy since the previous permissions were granted
approval to sustainable development in general, including a reduction in greenhouse gas
emissions. In the case of peat extraction; this would involve phasing it out through the use of
alternative growing media with the added benefit of utilising green waste, reducing waste to
landfill and protecting important habitats. National policy and plans, therefore are clearly moving
away from supporting peat extraction. Whilst MPG13 remains in place, it is outdated and must
be seen within the context of an increasing emphasis on climate change, increasing protection
of priority habitat, focus on rewetting and restoring damaged sites and a further move away from
peat towards peat alternatives.
Conclusion on the Principle of Peat Extraction
It is clear that since peat extraction was approved in 1994 and 1997 and the publication of MPG
13 in 1995, there has been a momentum within planning guidance towards greater recognition
of climate change and the need to reduce carbon emissions
PPS9 has delivered a stronger recognition of the importance of protecting wildlife habitat and
species and the importance of designated sites, including Priority Habitats. In particular, lowland
raised bog habitat, including that of degraded raised bog (which includes bare peat) in terms of
its potential for restoration to bog habitat is recognised as an Annex 1 site under the terms of
the Habitats Directive.
The emerging Core Strategy for Salford and the emerging Greater Manchester Minerals DPD
also point to a future strengthening of policy with respect to not allowing any new peat extraction
on Chat Moss.
Notwithstanding this trend in policy direction, MPG 13 does remain the key existing piece of
planning guidance with respect to peat extraction until it is replaced. Likewise, the local
development framework still relies on Policy EN11, which would support the current
applications, subject to demonstration by the applicant of adequate protection of existing wildlife
value and good quality restoration proposals. These extant policies must be given due and
proper weight in the balance of consideration of the current applications and the principal of
Nevertheless, it is clear that there has been a change with regards to the position that climate
change occupies within the government‟s agenda, as reflected in the terms of the provisions of
PPS1 and the supplement to this document. It is clear that the carbon emissions that would
arise from the further extraction of peat from the site are significant. This would be contrary to
the spirit and intention of PPS 1 which clearly calls on planning to play its part in combating
climate change. It is considered that there are planning grounds for refusal on this basis.
It is also clear that the momentum behind protection of biodiversity for its own sake has
changed since the permission to extract peat was approved in 1994 and 1997.
In particular, the recognition of "degraded bog" as an Annex 1 Habitat under the Habitats
Directive and its inclusion as a UK Priority Habitat is important and this is reinforced in planning
terms through PPS9 and supported at a local level through UDP Policy EN8. The fact that it has
not been formally designated as a Special Area of Conservation does not devalue its
importance and clearly, the fact that there was ongoing peat extraction was a disincentive to
designate as a SAC over and above others sites which were more easily protected and
restored. It is clearly important that Salford gives due protection through its planning functions
to those sites which are deemed to meet the criteria of sites of international importance, and on
that basis, it is considered that there are grounds for refusal.
A refusal on the basis of protecting the carbon store and preventing future carbon dioxide
emissions would support the agenda for biodiversity because the status of bare peat as an
Annex 1 Habitat would protect its potential for restoration since it is considered that the deeper
the peat the greater the potential to secure a stable hydrology which forms the basis of lowland
When considering this finely balanced national policy context it is considered that there are
grounds for maintaining a refusal of the current proposal on both PPS1 and PPS9 and that this
would not be outweighed by any benefits of the scheme which are considered in the report
B. Detailed Impacts of the Proposals as set out in the Environmental Statement
Should the principle of continued peat extraction be considered acceptable, there would
nonetheless be significant issues to be resolved on the strength of the expectations of MPS2,
PPS1 and PPS9 and the Development Plan Policies ST13, EN8 and EN11 relating to the
impacts of the proposal. There is a clear need for the case presented by the applicant through
the Environmental Statement to demonstrate very clearly that the ecological, hydrological,
restoration and carbon issues have been fully and properly taken into account and appropriate
mitigation or compensation measures put in place.
These effects are the subject of the information provided in the Environmental Statement,
accompanying the applications and are examined below.
1. Impacts of the Extraction and Restoration Scheme
National Mineral Planning Statement 2 (MPS2) – “Controlling and Mitigating the Environmental
Effects of Mineral Extraction in England” (2005), paragraph 9 states that:
„an environmental assessment of an extension or a modification to an existing site should
concentrate on the effects of the proposed modification, and take into account operations on the
existing site affected by the modification. The assessment should consider if the modification
could lead to a level of environmental impact that would be unacceptable for the site as a whole,
or if the proposed extension would bring the perimeter of the site closer to existing communities
(thereby changing the nature or degree of the impact on existing communities).‟
This paragraph is referring to physical extensions of minerals sites. However, a time extension
is a modification and so the same effects should be taken into account. The impacts noted in
national policy MPS2 are assessed in later sections of this report.
With regards to the operation of peat extraction, paragraph 93 of MPG13 states :
„In considering proposals for peat extraction, authorities will wish to satisfy themselves that the
operator's proposal for managing the site in accordance with planning conditions, and the
restoration of the site and aftercare, are acceptable. Operators may therefore wish to call
attention to, and authorities will wish to consider, any evidence as to how their proposed
methods of site management, restoration and aftercare are likely to work out in practice. This
might be done by providing evidence from an existing, similar site. MPAs should thus have
regard to the practicality of the proposal before them.‟
The applicants have referred to their good track record of restoring sites to wetland bog habitat
and to this end have provided extensive details of a previous scheme undertaken at Gardrum
Moss, Falkirk, Scotland which was incorporated within Chapter 5 of the Environmental
Further to the details of the scheme at Gardrum Moss, William Sinclair in their submission of
revised information dated 1st June 2010 submitted an appraisal on the experimental peat bog
restoration such as that carried out at Gardrum Moss.
GMEU have commented that the submission of the assessment adds to the debate on the
refinement of restoration technology, but does not appear to be conclusive in its findings. GMEU
state that the assessment does not add or detract substantively from any of GMEUs previous
comments or conclusions, regarding the consideration of the current application.
The merits of the restoration scheme submitted for the Chat Moss applications are discussed in
section 4 of the report
2. Impact of Proposals with Respect to Nature and Habitat Conservation
There is concern from key consultees that the proposal for continued extraction of peat will
result in damage to important habitat. There is concern that the Environmental Statement has
failed to demonstrate that the proposals will
a) protect a Grade A Site of Biological Importance at 12 Yards Road, ;
b) protect important species ;
c) compensate adequately for the loss of an Annex 1 Habitat.
Natural England, RSPB, The Lancashire Wildlife Trust along with many of the objector
representations are particularly concerned about the loss of habitat from the continued
extraction of peat.
Planning Policy Statement PPS9 states that :
“decisions should be based on up to date information about the environmental characteristics of
the area. Planning decisions should aim to maintain, enhance, restore or add to biodiversity
and geological conservation interests. Appropriate weight should be attached to designated
sites of international, national and local importance; protected species; and to biodiversity and
geological interests in the wider environment. Planning decisions should prevent harm to
biodiversity and geological conservation interests. Where planning permission would result in
harm to those interests local planning authorities have to be satisfied that the development
cannot reasonably be located on any alternative sites that would result in less or no harm. In
the absence of no alternatives, adequate mitigation measures should be put in place. Where a
planning decision would result in significant harm to biodiversity, which cannot be prevented or
adequately mitigated appropriate compensation measures should be sought. Failing this
permission should be refused.”
With regards to species protection, PPS9 advises that Planning Authorities should refuse
permission where harm to the species or their habitats would result unless the need for, and
benefits of the development clearly outweighs that harm.
Whilst there is a history of peat extraction on this site, with established impacts on the hydrology
and the ecology of the area, the development proposed in the applications will extend the
timescale of extraction of peat on site and therefore the extent and duration of potentially
harmful effects significantly.
Natural England’s response to the revised information is that survey information on water voles
is available which appears to contradict the information provided in the revised ES submitted in
NE suggest that the applicant reconsider the potential impacts to water voles in the light of this
information. NE are also concerned with the focus on terrestrial Sphagnum, and make comment
on the application sites‟ applicability as an Annex 1 Habitat (covered more thoroughly below).
NE comment on the assessment criteria for the Twelve Yards Road SBI, and comment that the
fact that the site is being encroached by scrub is further evidence of the influence of drainage
from outside of the site.
NE conclude that they cannot agree with the applicant that that there will be no significant
impact on the Twelve Yards Road SBI, due to the impact of drainage on the peat extraction site,
and that no mitigation has been provided. Without this, it is felt that the restoration of the Twelve
Yards Road site will not be sustainable and will be unable to support bog habitat and water vole
habitat in the long term.
NE disagree with the statement in the Environmental Statement that the site does not meet the
criteria for Annex 1 Habitat. The council concurs with the view of Natural England as the
statutory consultee that the site does qualify as Annex 1 Habitat.
The Environment Agency states that the applicant does not seem to have taken on their
previous comments regarding the criteria for an Annex 1 Habitat. This site falls within the
criteria that there is a reasonable expectation of re-establishing vegetation with peat forming
capability within 30 years.
The Environment Agency also note that the water vole survey carried out by the developer is
contradictory to the findings of survey undertaken during the summer of 2010 by the Northwest
Lowland Water Vole Project where water vole were found to be present in 12 Yards Road and
Chat Moss as a whole is recognised as a stronghold for water voles in North West England.
Water voles are a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and as such
are a material consideration in these applications and any impacts on this species along with
any proposed mitigation must be provided prior to determination
GMEU echo comments made by Natural England in that there is a lack of recognition of the
site as a degraded raised bog (Annex 1 Habitats Directive), and that not enough consideration
has been given to the impact on the adjacent Twelve Yards Road SBI and Chat Moss
Lancashire Wildlife Trust express disappointment that neither the Trust nor other specialised
local groups were consulted for details of the ecological information which they hold. This is
particularly pertinent in relation to water voles. The Trust echoes comments made by Natural
England that the site meets the criteria for Annex 1 Habitat.
Revised information submitted 20th May 2011
The information submitted on the 20th May 2011 comprises in part further data with regards to
water vole surveys.
Baseline Surveys – Water Voles
The applicant restates that surveys have been taken in accordance with good practice
methodologies, and that the ES has addressed the consultee comments and adopted the
precautionary approach and that no further surveys are considered necessary.
The applicant has reviewed water vole data from the Twelve Yards Road SBI provided by the
Lancashire Wildlife Trust. The applicant states that the TYR SBI is a water voles stronghold and
that the water vole population on the site may be largely isolated from surrounding populations.
Biodiversity Evaluation – Water Voles
The applicant agrees that the Twelve Yards Road SBI is a water vole stronghold, and accepts
that the water vole population may meet SBI selection criteria for water voles, but that the site
designation does not highlight the presence of water voles as a designating feature.
The applicant states that the water vole population contributes to the overall biodiversity value of
TYR SBI which is valued at regional/county level, and that the water vole has been highlighted
separately due to its legal (protected) status
Revised Information – Responses from the main consultees.
Natural England make no specific comments on the revised information with regard to ecology,
but state overall, that the additional information presented is still inadequate in respects of the
acknowledgement of impacts of the activity on the peat and the lack of mitigation for hydrology,
ecology and restoration of the site.
The Environment Agency comment that whilst the applicant accepts the presence of Water
Vole on Twelve Yards Road SBI, that there are still uncertainties regarding hydrology affecting
the Twelve Yard Road SBI and reminds the applicant of the status of Water Vole as a protected
species, and the protection that is afforded to them under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
The EA go on to state that the applicant must show that the development is not in conflict with
PPS9 that requires that planning proposals should prevent harm to nature conservation
interests, and should also not conflict with policy EN8 (Nature Conservation Sites of Local
Importance and EN11 (Mosslands)
GMEU comment that water vole survey data which corrects the emissions identified in
consultee comments is welcomed.
They go onto state that overall, the additional information does not fundamentally address their
previous comments with regard to the site‟s evaluation, impact analysis and restoration
proposals nor does it fundamentally or substantively alter their previous formal comments and
comment the officers report is still valid in reporting biodiversity (policy and technical issues).
Lancashire Wildlife Trust make the following comments with regards to the water vole data
Precautionary approach in the protection of water voles has not been applied in practice
The deepening of ditches and dry summers in the future will put the water vole
population at risk
Sufficient information has not been provided to provide quantification of risk
The fact that the current SBI description does not highlight water voles is not particularly
Based on the above comments, it is still considered, that the information submitted by the
applicant does not clearly demonstrate that the proposal would not have a significant
detrimental impact on either the ecology of the host site, in terms of the restorability to lowland
bog habitat, or that the development would not have a significant impact in terms of ecology of
fauna and flora of the neighbouring Twelve Yards Road SBI.
Further to this, the applicant has not demonstrated in terms of mitigation (discussed in the report
below) how these impacts will be managed. Given that the information supplied in relation to
hydrology (discussed in the report below) is insufficient, it is not possible to assess whether
mitigation and its extent could be reasonably conditioned.
As such, it is considered that the proposal is contrary to PPS9, MPS2 and policies EN8, EN11
and ST13 of the City of Salford Unitary Development Plan
3. Impact of Proposals with Respect to Hydrology.
Several objections have been received from owners of properties off Astley Road to the north
and north-west of the extraction area regarding subsidence to their properties as a result of the
drainage of the adjacent land which has lead to peat shrinkage.
Whilst the areas adjoining these properties lie within the Wigan Boundary, this is an issue that
should be addressed. If there is a hydrological link between extraction of the peat/drainage of
the site, and the shrinkage of peat at these properties, this will need to be addressed with
suitable safeguards in the form of mitigation being put forward to prevent any further effect on
The Environment Agency considered that insufficient information had been provided within the
revised Environmental Statement to address the issues raised in their earlier correspondence
regarding the hydrological impact of the scheme on the adjacent Twelve Yards Road SBI.
The EA pointed to gaps and insufficiencies in the data provided, and that because of the
difficulties of predicting the hydro-geological properties of re-engineered peat deposits that the
applicant has relied too heavily on graphical representations and conceptual cross-sections
which are of questionable value
The EA concluded that the current drainage ditches are having a detrimental impact on water
levels in the Twelve Yards Road SBI and water vole habitat. The EA state that the applicant has
failed to adequately assess the potential impacts of further extraction on Twelve Yards Road
SBI and water vole habitat.
In view of the above, the EA state they „must therefore maintain our objection at this time until
the applicant has supplied information to demonstrate that the risks posed by the development
can be satisfactorily addressed.‟
Natural England have provided photo evidence to demonstrate the damage from cracking of
peat on a former extraction site on Chat Moss. The photo has been provided to demonstrate the
effects of the digging of drainage ditches over time which dries the peat and increases the
peat‟s hydrological conductivity.
NE comment that the condition of the Twelve Yards Road SBI, in which areas dry up in summer
is testament to the effect of drainage from the adjacent peat extraction site.
NE go on to state that recent deepening of ditches on the site has occurred which will be having
a significant impact on the adjacent Twelve Yards Road SBI and the stability of land adjacent to
the ditches. It also states that as land levels are lowered in relation to adjacent retained land
levels, the blocking of drainage ditches will have little positive effect on water retention of
adjacent peat masses.
NE comments that there are inadequacies, both in the quality and quantity of groundwater level
data, and that the consequence of the relatively recent ditch deepening would not yet be evident
due to the long response time of peat.
Additional photo evidence is provided by NE to demonstrate the reduction in drainage impacts
through the use of plastic piling on the Astley Moss Nature Reserve site which has assisted to
some extent with bog re-establishment within a 2 year period
NE express their concern that has been no consideration of their previous comments relating to
long term changes in the peat hydrological conductivity with respect to long term drainage and
the related issues of slumping and cracking due to shrinkage that are inevitable given the very
deep nature of the drain next to Twelve Yards Road SBI and other relic bogs in the area
including Sibs within Wigan. Similar conditions at Astley Moss have been countered by the use
of sheet piling (discussed above)
NE conclude that they cannot agree that there will be no significant impact and would expect to
see a mitigation plan to buffer the Twelve Yards Road site from deep drainage on the peat
abstraction site in the form of plastic pilling/peat bund and restored extended buffer zone with
stepped bog cells grading down to the new land level.
Without this, it is the opinion of NE that the Twelve Yards Road SBI bog area is unsustainable
with respect to supporting bog and water vole habitats in the long term. In consideration of
Natural England‟s comments, the information submitted by the applicant remains inadequate as
no further mitigation plan to buffer Twelve Yards Road has been submitted for assessment.
The Lancashire Wildlife Trust are also extremely concerned about the submission with
regard to hydrology and hydrogeology and contend that the risk of drying out is seriously
underplayed and as such may have a potential adverse impact on the hydrology, ecology and
the ability to restore the site.
The periods used within the ES for groundwater monitoring are considered to be too short and
therefore do not give evidence of seasonal differences or fluctuations due to long term factors or
artificial work, e.g. the creation of drainage ditches.
Greater Manchester Ecological Unit (GMEU) welcomes the consideration given in the revised
ES to the use of different hydrological modelling data, but questions the assumptions used in
GMEU go on to state that for the avoidance of future doubt, should the proposal receive
permission, a plan showing the primary and secondary drains should be submitted and agreed
with the LPA and should be tied to a condition to restrict deepening of the primary drainage
system. Future deepening should be restricted and should not breach the peat base into the
The lack of any remediation strategy should a detrimental effect be recorded within the
hydrological monitoring is still an omission of the proposals.
Submission of Revised Information 20th May 2011
The revised information submitted on the 20th May includes in part a letter to the Environment
Agency comprising new monitoring data and analysis of this data. This relates to five main
aspects. The applicant has presented information which is summarised into headings below;
Monthly Rainfall Data Plotted against Groundwater Data
The applicant states there does not appear to be any immediate response of peat water
levels to higher rainfall
Where delayed responses to rainfall exists, this suggests soil moisture deficit from
Differing responses to autumn recharge are likely to reflect local variability of peat
thickness, topography and the thickness of peat where soil moisture deficit is present.
There is evidence it is likely that the lower rainfall on the site between April 2010 to
March 2011, resulted in a slight reduction in peat water levels.
Minima and Maxima Water levels with Cross Sections
The applicant has provided drawings to illustrate this with supporting data
Minima and Maxima Water levels for all Peat Monitoring Boreholes on Chat Moss
The applicant states that the minima and maxima peat water levels confirm that
drawdown from the perimeter drains is limited to the immediate vicinity of the primary
drains (less than 30 metres)
The data shows that the catotelm peat has a relatively uniform permeability
It is considered given the data that the hydraulic characteristics of the peat are likely to
be similar throughout the site. Evidence of higher permeability peat horizons were
identified in the cut faces of the perimeter drainage ditches.
Plan Showing water levels relative to Ordnance Datum – July 2009
The applicant has provided drawings to illustrate this with supporting data
Water Levels in large diameter pipes installed in peat in the Twelve Yards Road SBI
Review of data from the pipes indicates that water levels in the SBI have remained
relatively constant over the monitoring period (October-May) and lie within 0.25m of the
ground surface of the monitoring locations;
It is considered that the water levels in the pipes is hydraulically consistent with ponded
water on lower lying areas of the site;
It is reiterated that ponded water has been observed within the Twelve Yards Road SBI
in April, May, June and July 2009 and during the summer in 2010, and that a water vole
survey undertaken by the applicant in October 2010 indicated treacherous conditions
due to waterlogged ground and deep pools.
Observation of the primary ditches suggests that Groundwater baseflow from the peat is
minimal reflecting low permeability;
It is not considered given the minimal surface water flow with corresponding baseflow
that further monitoring of surface water discharge rates is necessary;
The applicant undertakes to provide additional buffer zones and mitigation to protect the
Twelve Yards Road SBI as necessary (discussed further below)
Revised Information – Responses from the main consultees.
The Environment Agency make the following comment in response to the revised information;
Hydrographs of groundwater levels from on-site boreholes
The developer has increased confidence by supplying additional data which does provide some
indication of typical levels in the same months in previous years where there had been gaps in
Trends are difficult to identify because of large gaps in the data, and there are anomalies in the
data which can be qualified.
In summary, it is stated that the new data for the Chat Moss Site boreholes means that we now
have a groundwater level record that includes some data from 9 different months of the year,
albeit spread about over three years, as opposed to the data from only six different months that
we previously had.
Whilst this has provided an increase in statistical confidence, it has to be remembered that the
first two months of the first monitoring period were artificially low levels prior to the stabilisation
of conditions following the drilling of the boreholes, and, none of the data has yet picked up the
late September / early October period in any year which would naturally be the lowest point of
the seasonal recession.
It is not possible on the basis of such a scattered record to be able to determine whether there
might be any progressive year on year trend of falling levels attributable to either annual climatic
variation or to progressive dewatering caused by the drainage ditches of the peat workings.
Attachments 2a & 2b Drawdown Plots on Twelve Yards Road SBI
The applicant indicates that it is the intention to maintain a 30 metre stand-off from the SBI, and
shows the SBI water level at this distance on these sections, but this conflicts with the site plan
which clearly shows the perimeter drainage ditch to be just about 20 metres or even less from
the SBI boundary.
It is the drainage ditch that is most likely to affect the groundwater and surface water levels
within the SBI.
As such, the most influential aspect of the proposed peat extraction development is clearly NOT
maintaining a minimum 30 metre stand-off from the SBI and this would be unacceptable given
the distance – drawdown relationships exhibited by the sections 2a, 2b and 3 of the submitted
Given that boreholes H and G are actually beside the edge of the SBI, it would appear that the
existing passive dewatering draw-down caused by this ditch is already impacting on the
groundwater levels at the edge of the SBI, to an average drawdown of circa 0.1 to 0.4metres,
and possibly much more in very dry period
The EA state that Natural England has indicated that lowering the saturation level more than
0.2 metres below „ground level‟ would be potentially detrimental to the SBI wetland ecology, and
that this may initiate the growth of more substantial vegetation that would propagate further
dewatering by increased evapo-transpiration, and the potential introduction of nutrients.
„Cloud Plot‟ for comparison of distance/drawdown data
This EA state that the drawing submitted by the applicant increases confidence in the
consistency of observations of the general distance-drawdown relationships in different parts of
the site, based upon all available actual observations. Again, it does not incorporate data from
the extreme events of 2009-10 and as presented, it is not obvious whether the plot has included
the extra data from 2011 or not.
The EA state that the information does demonstrate that the relationship between groundwater
level and distance from the drainage ditch is reasonably consistent for all the boreholes
considered, at various locations around the site. Presentation of all of the maxima, minima and
mean data for the whole site in this way gives clear graphical definition of the uncertainty that
might be introduced by local variables. It also provides increased confidence in the use of this
wider relationship as a design criterion for protective stand-off distances at the site boundary.
The EA go on to state if all the borehole data used to construct the cross sections and
hydrographs had been submitted in tabular form, it would have been possible to check the
derivation of the maxima, minima and mean and to check whether any particular observations
had been excluded. This has not been done.
The EA conclude that failure to provide accurate geographic location or levelling relative to
Ordnance Datum however prevents constructive use of the water level observations from the
Wildlife Trust boreholes, which would have been ideal for extrapolation of this curve further from
the drainage ditch, into the area of greatest concern.
Detail of site plan at the SBI boundary (WL Elevations)
The EA state that ground levels within the SBI are known to be variable, but these and the
areas of surface water bodies in that area have not been mapped, and the plan does not show
the locations of either the SBI standpipes or the locations and levels of any of the artificial level
control systems said to have been installed by the Wildlife Trust.
The EA state that it is essential that the location of such features can be identified if they
influence or control levels on that site, and that their levels are correlated to Ordnance Datum to
facilitate any hydro-geological interpolation between them.
EA state that given Natural England have confirmed that it would be imperative to secure
management of groundwater levels close to ‟ground levels‟ in the SBI the lack of information on
the topography and open water areas within the SBI is rather fundamental.
As indicated above, under the heading „Attachment 2a and 2b‟ this drawing also shows the
peat working perimeter drain to be in unacceptably close proximity to the SBI boundary given
the distance –drawdown relationships demonstrated by Attachments 2a, 2b and 3..
Attachment 5: SBI Groundwater Level Data
The EA state that the recently supplied groundwater levels within the SBI do show a very recent
decline, (circa 0.15m) but the record is so short it is not possible to determine whether this is
part of a natural seasonal recession, or the product of recent active site drainage, or even
caused by water level management works reputed to have taken place within the SBI.
EA state the decline in SBI groundwater levels has not yet completed, and we don‟t know how
low it might ultimately go before any seasonal recovery. The very constant SBI standpipe water
levels observed in the autumn-winter period of 2010 may be attributable to the system
overflowing to surface water drains.
The EA go on to state that because the developer has been unable to locate where these
standpipes are on any plan, or to relate the water level in them to Ordnance Datum it is not
possible to interpolate hydraulic gradients between these unknown points, or from them to other
monitoring points around the site.
The EA conclude as such, their current value is merely to confirm that there is some
groundwater level variation in the SBI peat, but not how much, or where, or whether this is an
entirely natural phenomenon or whether it is artificially interfered with by the drains of the peat
extraction or the water level management works said to have been carried out in the SBI.
Note on Covering Letter – Hydrology
The EA make the following comments on the covering letter;
The developer suggests that seasonal variation in the soil moisture deficit of the peat may
account for some flattening of the natural groundwater level cycle in the peat, which is
acceptable in principle, but they will need to provide evidence which supports this explanation.
The developer makes a suggestion that a peat milling stand-off of 60 rather than 30 metres from
the SBI could be assumed for the avoidance of doubt, but does not explain how moving the
peat milling alone would stop the existing drainage ditch from passively dewatering the ground
near the SBI.
To be effective, any stand-off to secure groundwater levels would necessitate the stopping up
of any drainage ditches below water table within the specified stand off distance, not just the
cessation of milling.
This does not appear to be included in the current proposals for either the 30 metre or
conceptual 60 stand-off proposals
Any proposal for stopping up or decommissioning of the passive drainage ditches, either to
facilitate working or restoration, should be accompanied with details of how this might be
effectively achieved so as to secure long term structural integrity of the obstruction and
prevention of by-pass leakage (e.g. by pipe-flow through soils, including peat, where there may
be a significant hydrostatic head difference across the barrier or blockage).
In summary, The Environment Agency have stated that there are still significant uncertainties
and ambiguities in the data supplied by the applicant, most notably in relation to how the stand-
off adjacent to Twelve Yards Road SBI might be effectively maintained, and that the water
levels required to sustain the SBI have yet to be determined.
The EA state that it would appear that the existing passive dewatering is already impacting on
the groundwater levels at the edge of the Twelve Yards Road SBI. A situation that will continue
to occur if the planning permissions are granted and could potentially result in the eventual
deterioration of Twelve Yards Road. However the applicant has not provided any detail as to
how this will be avoided / mitigated as part of the current development proposals.
The EA have therefore maintained their objection until it has been demonstrated that the risks
posed by the development can be satisfactorily addressed.
Natural England make the following comments in response to the revised information;
The NE state their concern at the lack of response in water levels on the site with
respect to rainfall, and concludes that this is as a direct impact on the drainage of the
peat and illustrates the negative effect of drainage on the peat. The process over time
modifies the properties of the peat, reducing the ability to hold water which will render
the buffer zone useless over time
Information submitted in the attachments show that drawdown levels which are
considered damaging to the bog habitat a few metres away
The Buffer zones shown in the data are inconsistent with those in the text on the site, the
distance between the drainage ditch and the edge of the SBI is closer to 20m
Inconsistencies in data and lack of data, make it difficult to assess the data
Data for summer drawdown has not been presented, limited data for May shows a
drawdown of 40cm which is likely to cause significant damage to bog species. It is
considered that 10-20cm below ground is the maximum summer drawdown acceptable
to maintain a healthy bog community.
NE state given the data presented, it is concluded that that the existing buffer zone is not
preventing damaging drawdown on the SBI
To conclude, NE welcomes the extension of the buffer zone, but there is no clear
commitment, details or information on the feasibility of such a plan. NE question the
trigger for mitigation for monitoring being based on further monitoring, as the data
available to date indicates that a potentially damaging water drop is already occurring.
Lancashire Wildlife Trust make the following comments in response to the revised
information, some of the points raised are also applicable to the information supplied regarding
mitigation which is discussed later in this report;
The Trust consider the impact of the existing ditch on the Twelve Yards Road SBI could
never be removed completely.
The Trust state that whilst there has been ponded water on the Twelve Yards Road SBI,
that this has been on parts of the site, the site is still much drier than they would like in
some areas and the drainage ditch has undoubtedly contributed towards this.
There are competing forces at work on the Twelve Yards Road SBI, with the drainage
ditches on the active site draining water from TYR SBI in conflict with actions taken by
the Trust to maintain water levels on the site and between cells
Because the monitoring data undertaken by the applicant in the summer months is
incomplete, there is uncertainty and risk attached to future extraction
The applicant should adopt the precautionary principle to protect the TYR SBI
The current position serves to demonstrate that adverse impacts of the ditch deepening
on the site in 2009/10 has been generally offset by positive management of the site by
the Trust connected with a series of wet summers.
Some parts of the TYR SBI that are still too dry to support bog vegetation which clearly
indicates the drying out impact of the ditch and peat extraction on the neighbouring
The Trust conclude that the risk to the TYR SBI remains, particularly due to ditch deepening
and that the applicant has still not supplied evidence to quantify the impact in critical dry
summer and autumn conditions.
GMEU have referred to the representations made by the EA and the contact that the
Environment Agency have had with both the city council and the applicant. GMEU state that
there are still gaps in the hydrological data with relation to collection consistent through a linear
seasonal time span, with months missing and issues with the plotting of monitoring point.
As stated above in the Ecology section, GMEU conclude that overall, the additional information
does not fundamentally address their previous comments with regard to the site‟s evaluation,
impact analysis and restoration proposals nor does it fundamentally or substantively alter their
previous formal comments and comment the officers report is still valid in reporting biodiversity
(policy and technical issues).
Despite the submission of further information, it is still considered that insufficient information
has been provided within the applications to identify on-site, and off-site hydrological and
In the main, this relates to the short term and long term impacts on the hydrology and ecology of
the adjacent Twelve Yards Road SBI, and the stability of adjacent areas which include
residential properties off Astley Road to the west. Whilst the last issue is a material
consideration, it is considered that this is a matter for Wigan to address.
The data provided is insufficient in terms of its quantity and quality and the way that the data
has been presented.
In light of the comments made by consultees and in view of the fact that the data that has been
presented is deficient, it is considered that information submitted by the applicant does not
clearly demonstrate that the development would not have a significant impact on the hydrology
of the adjacent areas including the adjacent Twelve Yards Road SBI, and on the restorability of
the site in itself.
Similarly conclusions are not able to be drawn regarding the impact of the development on the
ecology of sensitive sites which are located in close proximity to the application site.
In view of this, it is considered that the ES is deficient, and that the proposal as it stands is
contrary to PPS9, MPS2 and policies EN8, EN11 and ST13 of the City of Salford Unitary
The applicant has not provided sufficient information about the on- and offsite hydrology in order
that impacts can be fully assessed in accordance with the Environment Impact Assessment
Regulations and as such an application for planning permission cannot be determined except by
4. Impact of Proposal with respect to Restoration
The restoration of the site once peat harvesting has ceased is of particular concern to both the
Council and those making representations. The applicant has proposed that following peat
extraction the site would be restored to bog habitat.
This is defined and distinct from the existing permission which requires the site to be restored to
„amenity‟, which is a broader ranging and less clearly defined term discussed further below;
Restoration under Existing permissions
The existing planning permissions incorporate conditions requiring the site to be restored to an
amenity afteruse following the cessation of milling on site.
Whilst there has been much contention between the Local Planning Authority, Statutory
Consultees and the Applicants about the term Amenity which is well documented, Members are
strongly advised that the existing permissions and the restoration requirements do not provide
mechanisms for the restoration of the sites to active bogland.
There is no implicit wording in the conditions in the applications covering the site that require the
site to be restored to active bogland, and the applicants have made it quite clear that should the
applications fail, that the site would be restored to a simple amenity use and no more.
The Applicants have submitted a restoration scheme under the existing planning permissions
which comprised areas of grassland, scrubland, marshy grassland and reed beds. Whilst this
scheme was not accepted by the Local Planning Authority in terms of content or quality, it is
considered unlikely given the lack of clarity in wording of the conditions attached to the previous
permissions that a scheme which reflected the ecological value of the site could be enforced.
Members are asked to bear this point in mind when considering the applications. Whilst there
are other matters to consider in the determination of the applications which may have more of a
bearing on the outcome (discussed elsewhere in this report), little weight should be given to
reliance on the conditions of the existing permissions to deliver restoration of the site to active
bogland. So restoration per se to lowland raised bog habitat would be considered to be
advantageous and if this proposal could deliver such restoration it would amount to a clear
The applicant at the scoping stage was requested to focus on restoration within the ES to
outline how the site will be restored to provide lowland raised bog.
A scheme was provided within the original ES which comprised the construction of bunds on the
site to form cells for rewetting. The infilling of internal and perimeter drains was proposed over
time to re-wet the site On areas of the site already down to 2m depth, on the southern portion
of the site (presently in a state of informal restoration) these works would be brought forward
within the short term.
Following physical works to the site, cotton –grass planting and spreading propagules of
Sphagnum would be undertaken.
The restoration proposed was to be carried out in 4 phases comprising consultation, re-wetting,
vegetation establishment and aftercare, with a schedule of tasks and implementation timetable
As part of the evidence base for the proposed restoration, supporting information in the form of
a report regarding the successful restoration scheme undertaken at Gardrum Moss, a raised-
intermediate bog in Falkirk, Scotland by William Sinclair was provided. It is stated that this bog
in particular had been predominantly un-vegetated bare peat 10 years after extraction had
Comparisons were drawn in the information submitted by the applicant between rainfall at
Gardrum Moss and Chat Moss stating that rainfall at the sites was similar, and it was stated that
the method of restoration at Gardrum Moss provided a hydrologically appropriate model for the
restoration of the site at Chat Moss.
In the initial response to the information in the original ES submitted with the applications,
Natural England and others responded stating that they considered a 5 year restoration /
aftercare period insufficient. At Astley and Bedford Mosses SSSI 15 years have been needed
for some areas to return to active bog and there is still a need for active management.
Furthermore it was considered that the use of peat to construct bunds during the restoration will
lead to further loss of peat in terms of retained peat depths.
NE also stated the cell size proposed at 60 metres x 80 metres was too large, and as a result
Sphagnum would not grow due to wind/wave action. In connection with the above comments in
section 5 of the ES, some species of mosses proposed in the restoration are not available from
adjacent moss areas.
The Environment Agency highlighted the lack of clarity in the applications in terms of peat
depths to be retained and that this should be clarified by the applicant.
The Environment Agency echoed comments made by Natural England stating that adjacent
areas in restoration are sensitive and are unlikely to be suitable for the harvesting of mosses for
re-colonisation of the subject site.
The EA have concerns regarding the feasibility of the restoration plan and the ability of the
applicant to remove peat in such a way to ensure that the minimum peat depth will be retained
across the site.
The Greater Manchester Geological Unit stated that the restoration plans should be
progressive with reference to areas of the site that have already/will become worked out due to
differences in existing peat depths on site (including the area now unworked towards the
southern boundary of the site), remembering that the peat will only be able to be worked down
to a minimum depth of 2 metres.
The Lancashire Wildlife Trust added that an agreed plan setting out the justification behind
the choice of restoration needs to be agreed with Salford City Council, and that the restoration
plans should cover all parts of the site.
The Trust reiterate the comments made by NE and the EA regarding the fact that SSSI donor
sites could not be considered as a source of bog vegetation, and have commented that any use
of local sites to propagate restored areas would need to be undertaken with great care to avoid
damage to the restoration of donor sites.
Revised ES Information
The applicant has in the revised ES responded by offering a 15 year after aftercare regime
including hydrological monitoring. They have also reduced the cell size to 40 metres x 40
metres as Natural England considered formerly that the large cells would not result in growth of
Sphagnum due to wave action.
The applicant has also stated that should sufficient donor material not able to be sourced, that a
nursery would be established to propagate additional material
A phased plan has also been produced by the applicant showing when areas on the site where
the 2m minimum peat depth has been reached will come out of extraction.
There is still no indication of what the differences in final surface level across the site would be
should this proposal be followed through. The claim in paragraph 5.50 that the surface is likely
to be flat following milling operations seems to be at odds with the proposals in the Indicative
Phasing Plan CM4/3 to stop milling at different times on what is currently quite a flat surface.
Significant differences in surface levels will hinder restoration to lowland raised bog, as noted in
the Environmental Statement (ES). Paragraph 5.43 of the Environmental Statement notes the
difficulties that differences in surface levels have caused for restoration at Hatfield Moor.
Appendix 7/4 notes “the need to ensure that the final peat surface does not slope to any great
extent, as this would make it very difficult to effectively re-wet the peat surface.”
Responses to the Revised ES
Natural England whilst acknowledging that some of their previous concerns have been
addressed in the new information, have made comments regarding information in the ES
relating to the interpretation of European Habitats Directive.
NE state that it is their opinion that the site can be restored back to „bog pool‟ community within
30 years if managed correctly, but that a management plan detailing how this is to be achieved
must be produced prior to any permission being given
NE also express doubts about the remaining bog peat on site post-extraction , and whether
enough of this will remain to allow both restoration and the construction of bunds to be carried
The Environment Agency echo NE‟s comments, in that the applicant has not indicated
whether the final depth of peat on site is before or after peat has been taken to construct bunds.
The EA state the applicant‟s need to demonstrate how and where the peat for the bunds will be
The EA concur with NE that a clear methodology and management plan needs to be set out
within the existing applications. Finally it is stated that there is a lack of clarity on how the
Twelve Yards Road SBI will be linked into the overall restoration plan for the area.
The Greater Manchester Ecology Unit (GMEU) have commented that significantly more
information has been provided within the revised ES, but point to deficiencies in the provision of
adequate management and aftercare information in the proposed scheme. GMEU point out that
the restoration period (2 years) is too short for effective restoration. Concerns are also raised
regarding the lack of phased restoration and the use of on-site peat to create restoration bunds.
Revised Information submitted 20th May 2011
As detailed earlier in this report, revised information was submitted by the applicants. The
applicant makes the following points regarding the restoration of the site;
William Sinclair would retain direct responsibility for site restoration
The phased restoration of the completed portions of the site would commence in
2011/2012 – dependant on approval.
William Sinclair has committed to a 15 year aftercare programme, with major habitat
creation works taking place in years 1-5
Restoration of the main part of the site commencing once the final levels (average of 2m
peat remaining on site)
Peat used from stockpiles of final years harvesting to create the restoration profile, and
bunds for blocking of ditches
The use of stored peat or peat not milled to the average depth would ensure enough
peat remained in-situ to allow successful restoration
Peat depth surveys would be undertaken annually on site, at the end of each milling
season when peat was compressed meaning that the depth would be at the minimum
Peat extraction would not recommence in the following year where the depth was at or
close to 2 metres. This could be controlled through a suitably worded condition
William Sinclair is committed to providing a sustainable source of propagates to allow
speedy restoration of the site, including the use of „breeder plugs‟
A Mix of peat forming species including Sphagnum would be used to establish
vegetation within the created restoration cells
Monitoring would be undertaken to ensure that the most successful mix of species was
used within the restoration.
Additional Information Received in Interim Response from Chris Turner received 2nd June
The Cells proposed for restoration will be flat – due to the variation surface heights on
site following extraction, a limited amount of terracing would be required
It cannot be stipulated where the terraces would end up, as the peat heights would
depend on weather conditions of the next 15 years. There is variation within the Twelve
Yards Road SBI now that cannot be seen with the eye
For the avoidance of doubt, there will be no slopes within cells once restoration plans
are out in place
William Sinclair has experience of restoring sites whist extraction is taking place, with
Bolton Moss Fell in Cumbria and Astley Moss to the north of the site being examples of
this. Restoration is already in progress on the southern portion of the site covered by
permission reference 91/28440/FUL
The applicant goes on to highlight which areas are likely to be put under restoration next and
accepts problems with the clarity of some of the restoration drawings. It is stated that
rectangular areas will likely to be taken out of production rather then circular areas indicated on
The applicant states that precise boundaries cannot be stated presently, but there is no doubt
that blocking of ditches and bunds could be put in place to ensure that restoration and
extraction can be carried out in harmony.
It is stated that some re-contouring of areas taken out of production in 2013-2015 may be
required, so that these areas are linked, to form part of self-sustaining wetlands covering the
site. It is stated that on completion of the site, a significant environmental gain for Greater
Manchester will have been achieved.
Revised Information – Responses from the main consultees.
The Environment Agency state that the applicant has supplied further information which has
clarified some questions regarding the restoration plan, but states that there is still a lack of
clarity as to how the adjoining SBIs including the Twelve Yards Road SBI will be linked to the
overall restoration plan for area.
Natural England make no specific comments on the revised restoration information but overall
state that the additional information presented by the applicant is still inadequate in terms of the
lack of mitigation for the hydrology, ecology and restoration of the site.
Lancashire Wildlife Trust have commented that reference is made to restoration proposals
commencing once the site had reached average levels of 2.0m peat remaining, and makes the
Application relates to an average depth of 2m of peat when the planning condition
specifies retention of a minimum of 2m of peat.
There has already been over-extraction below 2m on the site and it is unacceptable to
have any further extraction below this level on the site.
The Trust also state that the greater the depth of peat, the easier the restorability and the more
robust the restored peatland, deep peat deposits can store a greater volume of water than
shallow peat deposits.
GMEU have made the following comments on the revised information;
The application relates to an average depth of 2m of peat when the planning condition
specifies retention of a minimum of 2m of peat. This is contrary to previous information
and highlights concerns over the final profile of the site
The restoration will commence once final levels are reached which still does not allow for
phased restoration required by minerals guidance
The use of milled or stored peat in restoration is not appropriate and is contrary to
The use of peat once milling has been completed in order to create final restoration
profiles and blocking of internal drains. This is related to the final depth of peat and the
unknown volumes of peat that would be required to achieve the restoration profile, which
would further lower the depths of remaining peat.
Comments have been made by the applicant indicating that the site will be restored to
wetland habitat which would not be acceptable in the present application.
In addition to this GMEU make specific comments on the achievability of restoration given a
reduction in the depth of peat on the site in response to comments made Chris Turner of SLR
on the officer‟s report.
GMEU state that the example given by SLR which relates to the lowering of peat depth to the
water table (to maintain water at or just below surface level) is misleading as it is using a peat
scenario where there is variation at the surface level which creates raised baulks above a water
GMEU refer to comments made in their previous response in that the applicant‟s own ES
indicates that the likelihood of success in achieving raised bog habitat as opposed to lag fen (or
other habitats) is greater where deeper peat persists.
GMEU go on to clarify that it has been acknowledged for some considerable time that the type
of re-vegetation that occurs on peat is related to the depth of the retained peat and the amount
of peat removed from the original active surface. A critical factor associated with the retention of
greater peat depths is the ability to establish a more stable hydrological regime within the peat
in order that active bog habitats can colonise/be established, which is an interplay of a number
GMEU state that there is on-going research and debate within the professional field regarding
peat depths and the complexity of re - creating an active raised bog site which begins to
emulate a natural, functioning, self-regulating system that is integrated within the ecological
landscape in which it occurs.
GMEU have made further comments on this matter in response to the revised information
including the critique by Chris Turner of SLR, stating that the restoration of a site such as this
which meets the criteria of a degraded Annex 1 Habitat depends on a number of factors
including the depth of retained peat / extent of removal from the original surface, the
establishment of the correct and stable hydrological regime and the introduction/colonisation of
suitable habitat structures.
GMEU have stated that each factor interacts with the others, for example, changes in the body
of the peat mass (peat depth) will have impacts on the achievability of other elements of the
restoration and that this is just one part of the reason for the conclusions that GMEU have
reached regarding the damage and loss to a site meeting the criteria of an Annex 1 Habitat
To conclude, GMEU state that there is uncertainty within the field on long-term sustainability of
restoration techniques, which combined with the lack of confidence and ongoing confusion
regarding the applicant‟s current restoration, raises significant and substantive questions
regarding the achievability of restoration to active raised bog habitat.
GMEU go on to question the formulation of and the future validity of any conditons / obligations
that the City Council could enter into based on the applicant‟s total submission.
The applicant would be required to restore the site to bogland habitat should the applications
receive support. In particular policy EN11 requires that permission will be granted on land which
has the potential to be restored to lowland raised bog (which is the case here), only where the
development would not prevent restoration in the future.
There is no fallback position for the developer, as the developer cannot extract further peat
without these permissions being granted.
Given the above comment it is considered that the more peat that is extracted from the site, the
more difficult the task will be to restore to site to active bogland, and therefore the less likely the
site will be able to be restored to an Annex 1 Priority Habitat (Active Raised Bog)
With this in mind, it is considered that a detailed restoration scheme of sufficient quality and
details would need to be submitted and agreed prior to further consideration of the applications.
If the applicant wants to show that the site can be effectively restored to bogland habitat, a
scheme should be produced which relates to the characteristics of this site, including site levels
The scheme would need to be progressive to show how existing areas which are down to a
depth below 2m are to be treated, and how areas presently close to 2m would be treated and
restored once they are down to the minimum depth. Management and aftercare provisions also
need to be provided within the scheme.
The scheme put forward, together with the issue of further information does not present a
coherent, comprehensive scheme and does not provide sufficient detail to show that restoration
of the site to bogland habitat would be successful.
In view of this, it is considered that the restoration scheme and details put forward in the
applications does not demonstrate that the working method and progressive restoration of the
site can actually co-exist, or can provide successful restoration to bogland habitat.
As such, doubt exists about the ability of the site to be worked to enable it to be successfully
restored in a phased manner, and without further intrusion below the 2m minimum depth of the
Notwithstanding this, it is considered that even if successful restoration to bogland could be
secured it is not considered that this would outweigh the harm caused by the development in
terms of loss of Annex 1 habitat and loss of a carbon store, both of which are discussed in other
sections of this report.
In view of the above, it is considered that the proposal as it stands is contrary to MPS 2 and
policies M2 and EN11 of the City of Salford Unitary Development Plan.
5. Carbon and Climate Change
The proposal involves the extraction of a significant amount of peat from the site due to the
amended timescales proposed for extraction. When peat is extracted, and as it dries out, the
peat oxidises resulting in the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2). Whilst the peat is in-situ, and
whilst it is wetted, the peat acts as a carbon store.
The moss on a wetted „live‟ mossland also sequesters carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The
benefits of the re-establishment of lowland raised bog habitat are therefore twofold. In the short
term it prevents the drying out of the peat body and helps to secure the carbon store within the
peat. In the longer term, when Sphagnum mosses have become established as part of an
active, growing bog, it absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Carbon dioxide is now known to be a significant „Greenhouse Gas‟ and as such is widely
recognised as a cause of Climate Change. In view of this, Carbon, or the „Carbon Budget‟ of the
development was outlined within the scoping opinion as being a significant factor which needed
to be explored. Tied in with this, the applicant was asked to explore alternatives to the scheme
proposed here, as required within the EIA regulations.
Climate change considerations represent a significant material change in circumstances since
the granting of the permissions which the applicant is now seeking to extend.
When all previous applications were permitted at the site, neither the significance of climate
change, nor the contribution that peat bogs made to carbon storage, were considered as
important as planning considerations as they are now. The changes to policy in this regard have
been discussed fully above under „MPG13 and Climate Change / Carbon Storage‟ and „Climate
Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions‟.
The material change in circumstances in climate change and carbon storage policy and
understanding represents a major consideration in the assessment of these applications.
Climate change issues are a major consideration behind the recent Defra consultation on
phasing out peat use.
Original Carbon Issues Evidence
It was noted originally that section 12 of the ES covering carbon issues appeared to be
simplistic and did not provide an accurate assessment of the carbon issues presented within the
applications. A full and complete carbon budget was needed to be provided within this section.
The information in the ES had taken into account the entire carbon content of the peat to be
extracted. However, it did not take into account the carbon released from drained peat below
the peat to be extracted. It was requested that a methodology which takes this additional issue
into account should be put forward by the applicant and reported in this chapter
The Greater Manchester Ecological Unit commented that there were assumptions and
evidence statements in this section which make calculations difficult to follow or verify. It is
commented that it is critical that the figures used are for carbon budgets and statements
regarding the peat market within the UK.
GMEU recommended that the ES provided reference to the use of figures from other sources,
principally Natural England‟s report „England‟s Peatlands; Carbon Storage and Greenhouse
Gases‟ (ref NE257 published 2010) and the Defra report, „Monitoring of Peat and Alternative
Products for Growing Media and Soil Improvers in UK 2007‟ (2nd biennial repost by Adas UK
Ltd and Enviros Consulting Ltd.
The Lancashire Wildlife Trust commented that the information in table 12/1 regarding carbon
emissions arising from the transport of peat to the processing site in Lincoln was incorrect in
that the figures within the table did not seem to tally with the assumptions regarding the number
of trips or the distances travelled.
The trust recommended that the table be clarified and amended as necessary, so that correct
baseline data can be provided to give an accurate representation of carbon dioxide emissions
both from peat imported from Estonia and from that harvested at Chat Moss.
The trust also put forward comments regarding the release of CO2 of peat in oxygenated
conditions and that the sections did not address the contribution from methane (CH4) from wet
ditches maintained on the site and that Carbon figures should be expressed in carbon dioxide
equivalents as detailed in the IPCC 2007 report.
Updated Carbon Issues Evidence in Revised ES
Revised information was received in the revised ES received in November 2010. Chapter 12
sets out more thoroughly the carbon budgets for the two options of maintaining peat extraction
on the site, or importing peat extracted in Estonia.
The outcome from this, understandably, is that importation of peat from Estonia in terms of CO2
emissions would be more intensive, approximately 235,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions, when
compared with approximately 170,000 tonnes if extraction was to continue on Chat Moss.
These differences are due primarily to transportation emissions (accounting for approximately
32,000 tonnes) and emissions associated with the Amenity Restoration of the Chat Moss site
that is envisaged by the extractor (accounting for approximately 37,000 tonnes).
In the light of the revised information submitted by the applicant in the revised ES, it is
considered that the assumption in the baseline scenario presented in Chapter 12 of the
Environmental Statement that high volumes of peat would continue to be imported over the
period 2011-2025 is highly questionable.
The proposals by Defra envisage that: “the horticulture sector is projected to use a further 17.4
million cubic metres of peat (equivalent to 6 years worth of peat at current levels of use) before
its use is phased out.” It is worth being reminded that para 4.5 of the DEFRA Consultation on
Reducing the Horticultural Use of Peat, states that “………………..Any future peat requirements
should therefore be easily accommodated from existing extraction sites, and it is expected that
new sites will not need to be opened up to meet expected market demands………………”
Whilst it could be argued that a temporary increase in peat imports may result from the
cessation of peat extraction at Chat Moss, over the course of the 15 years a significant
reduction in peat use can reasonably be expected given the rise in availability and usage of
peat alternatives and the baseline scenario of 15 years of steady peat imports from Estonia at a
high carbon cost is considered unrealistic.
Whilst there is obviously demand for peat in the horticultural industry which may continue to be
the case, it is considered that carbon dioxide production from the oxidation of the peat due to
extraction, which is presently locked away within the peat remains a major issue.
It is considered that the argument put forward by the applicant, that peat from other sources in
carbon terms would be more costly is not valid given that the emphasis within present
government policy is to move away from peat extraction and peat usage. It is also considered
that the continuing supply of peat may de-incentivise a move towards peat alternatives, or that
this would be slowed down.
There are balancing factors to consider in this assessment, in particular that the developer
states that the intention (in the event of planning permission not being granted) would be restore
the site to amenity land, which would not include peat bog. However, even in this scenario, the
carbon „value‟ of the peat store remaining in the ground would far outweigh any emissions from
dry habitat creation on this drained peat, even given that this is the worse case scenario.
It is also considered that the time requirements for achieving future carbon capture following the
restoration of the site to peat bog, envisaged in the proposed scheme is also far outweighed by
peat remaining in the ground.
In the best case scenario, in the long term, the abandonment of the site together with the
blocking of ditches would lead to the re-establishment of peat bog, with the site moving from
carbon emission to sequestration as the peat became rehydrated and Sphagnum started to re-
Updated Carbon Issues Evidence provided in supporting statement (Dated 31st May 2011)
In the additional information, William Sinclair state that science surrounding the oxidation of peat
to carbon dioxide is unclear. It is stated that research conducted by Defra argues that in terms
of total Greenhouse Gas emissions, the lifecycle assessment approach supports the use of UK
and Irish Peat, and coir as growing media material.
From this, it is stated that peat from the Chat Moss site has the lowest carbon footprint of any
growing media material supplied into the UK market. It is further argued that this factor allied to
the carbon-capturing nature of a restored wetland reinforces the environmental benefits of the
Looking in particular at the use of peat alternatives, many of these are produced from waste
products and therefore, much of the carbon footprint associated with the processes for their
collection and subsequent bio reduction would be happening regardless as part of the national
drive to reduce and reuse biodegradable waste. It is unclear whether Sinclairs have taken this
into account as part of the lifecycle assessment of peat alternatives. It is considered, however,
that it would be inappropriate to include such carbon emissions in any comparison between
green waste-based peat alternatives and UK peat as a growing material. It is also noted that the
research conducted by Defra (IF054) was published in April 2008, so may have been
superseded by more recent Defra / Natural England research on peat
William Sinclair are taking steps to bring the use of Peat Alternatives forward, and state that
legislation will be needed for this so that peat extraction is either banned or taxed heavily so as
to make alternatives financially viable. However it is stated in the absence of this legislation,
William Sinclair needs to meet the needs of its stakeholders by having a sufficient supply of
In view of the above, it is not considered that the developer has put forward a compelling
argument to justify a proposal which will lead to significant levels of carbon emissions within the
It is accepted that a refusal of planning permission may result in a minor increase in carbon
footprint if any shortfall has to be made up from imported sources. However, what happens in
terms of peat importation from other countries such as Estonia or Ireland cannot be controlled,
and indeed, it would appear from the statement in para1.21 of the DEFRA Consultation that only
32% of peat, used for horticulture is actually extracted from UK domestic sites. Whilst we
cannot control extraction of peat from other European countries, we can control what takes
place within our own country. We should look to control development within the framework of
UK legalisation where it would result in significant carbon emissions and when it is from
domestic sources and which would result in the loss of carbon stores.
It is considered that any minor increase in carbon footprint resulting from peat imports might
reasonably be expected to decrease as the market for peat alternatives gathers momentum.
Mitigation has not been provided for within the scheme nor could reasonably be achieved by
conditions, and as such it is considered that the continuing extraction of peat from the site would
contribute to climate change due to the release of carbon dioxide from a carbon store due to the
oxidation of dried peat both on the site, and in its extracted state. As such the proposal is
contrary to PPS 1 and its supplement. Planning and Climate Change.
6. Landscape and Visual Impacts
The applicant has carried out a landscape visual assessment of the proposal. As part of this
assessment, the „baseline‟ used by the applicant for this assessment has been the restoration of
the site to „amenity‟ use, as prescribed under the existing permissions covering the site, as apart
from the restoration envisaged under this scheme – to bogland habitat. This amenity use is
deemed by the applicant to be the „worst case baseline‟ scenario.
The applicant has based the assessment purely on the potential landscape and visual effects,
due to the proposed extension in the extraction timescale of the peat reserve, rather than full
landscape and visual survey that would be required should the applications for instance be for
extraction on a virgin site.
The applicant has undertaken an appraisal based on principles within the Countryside Agency‟s
Landscape Character Assessment Guidance (2002) and the Landscape Institute and Institute of
Environmental Management and Assessment‟s “Guidelines on Landscape and Visual
The assessment has been broken down into Landscape ad Visual Impacts which are discussed
The applicant has identified landscape receptors that can be directly affected by the
development such as topographic, geological, and drainage features, and woodlands, trees,
hedgerow cover, landuse, field boundaries and artefacts. These receptors therefore include
elements of the physical landscape which can be affected by the development. The way which
these receptors fit together in terms of proportion, pattern and scale gives rise to landscape
The applicant identifies that changes to the fabric and character of the landscape may affect the
perceived value of that landscape, giving rises to changes in its quality.
The assessment goes on to identify the main features of the landscape character at 3 scales, i)
national/regional scale ii) local authority scale and iii) local scale.
Further to this, the assessment goes on to describe the site and its surroundings, and the
activity on the site itself. The assessment focuses on the proximity of the site in terms of local
communities, lines of communication, surrounding properties and footpaths, as well as the
screening afforded by the topography and boundary treatments to the site. The assessment
identifies the predominant surrounding land uses, which are in the main agricultural uses.
The assessment concludes with the description of the subject site as bare peat fields which are
currently being milled, which is surrounded by boundary drains, semi-mature birch woodland,
improved grassland, arable land and residential and agricultural properties. The assessment
identifies the SBIs which are located close to the site, that is Twelve Yards Road SBI, Chat
Moss Remnants SBI (Wigan) and Woodland North of Moss Farm SBI.
In the Summary, the applicant describes the characteristics of the site a similar to those found in
the wider area, in that the site forms a large-scale agricultural landscape which has been
worked for peat for many years. The applicant states that this has become a characteristic of
the landscape which contrasts with the heavily developed urban areas including major transport
corridors surrounding the site.
The applicant identifies visual receptors as being the public or community at large as well as the
visual amenity of people affected.
A desk based assessment was undertaken which identified within 5km of the site, visual
receptors which may include those living near the site, local settlements and users of highways
including the M62, as well as users of public footpaths which pass adjacent to and through the
Following a field assessment it was observed that the visibility of the site was limited to little
beyond the immediate vicinity of the site, due to substantial blocks of trees, and vegetative
screening surrounding the site as well as the topography of the site. It was also noted that due
to the seasonal nature of the extraction on the site that works were largely undertaken when
trees and other vegetation was in leaf, thus assisting with the enclosure of the site from views
when machinery is present, although it was acknowledged that the colour of the peat would
mean that it would remain apparent in view for much of the year.
The applicant concludes in the initial assessment that the nature of the landscape and works
meant that there was limited scope for visual enhancement. The applicant also concludes that
given that there no change in the current operations proposed on the site that there would be no
impact on landscape character.
Following this, the assessment goes on to look at 5 representative viewpoints to represent
views from key receptors around the site, these are supported with photographs contained
within the ES.
The applicant concludes that the operation of the site for a further 15 years would not generate
any additional adverse visual effects during operations, and that following extraction and
subsequent restoration to bogland habitat, there would be beneficial impacts in terms of visual
The applicant acknowledges that that there would be adverse effects for the closest viewpoints
during operations, in comparison to the site being restored, but that these would be for a
temporary period after which time the effects would be beneficial to neutral.
The applicant has looked at cumulative impacts in terms of the sand/gravel and peat extraction
at Astley Moss East to the north, but due limited use of machinery and the intervening woodland
and railway line, the view is taken that the sites are not viewed cumulatively. A similar view is
reached regarding the operation of other agricultural activities within the vicinity of the site.
The applicant concludes that the continued working of the land would be low to medium
magnitude of adverse landscape impact producing a moderate adverse landscape effect during
operations, however this would be for a temporary period. The applicant identifies that
subsequent restoration to bog habitat would bring a beneficial landscape impact which would be
in line with planning policy and as such that the development would not generate significant
adverse landscape and visual effects.
Based on the information submitted by the applicant, it is agreed due to the present operation to
the site that the continued working of the site would not lead to any significant adverse effects
above or beyond those presently representing the „baseline‟ appearance of the site.
No details have been provided within the applications relating to the mitigation that may be
required in terms of a noise barrier between the extraction site and properties to the west off
Astley Road. However, it is considered that provided such a barrier was sensitively designed
and treated, that it would not have a significant impact on openness or landscape character of
Beyond this, it is also agreed that restoration to bog habitat on the cessation of peat extraction
would bring visual improvements to the site in terms of the restoration of the degraded bog.
It is acknowledged that it isn‟t clear within the applications, due to a lack of information what
impact the development will have in terms of the Hydrology and thus the Ecology of the
adjacent sites (The Twelve Yards Road site in particular), or whether the site could be restored
effectively following the cessation of peat extraction.
Because of this, it could be considered the development proposed has the potential to have
significant adverse impacts on landscape character by virtue of the knock-on impacts on the
hydrology and ecology of adjacent areas.
However, it is considered that the issues of landscape character / visual impact would be
secondary to the issues of Hydrology/Hydrogeology, Ecology, Restoration, Carbon and
Biodiversity issues. In view of this, and the conditions on the existing site it is not considered
that a reason for refusal could be supported on the grounds of landscape character or visual
The nearest noise sensitive dwellings to the peat workings are at Elm Holme and Hill Crest. Elm
Holme is about 50m and Hill Crest about 45m from the peat workings at the their nearest points
The dwellings together with others form a small grouping, which is surrounded on three sides by
the peat workings. The dwellings fall within the Wigan Council administrative area, but the peat
workings are primarily in the Salford City Council administrative area. There are no noise
sensitive uses in the Salford area that would be affected by the proposed development.
The submitted noise assessment report has predicted that noise levels from on site operations
at Elm Holme and Hill Crest will exceed the 55dB criterion by 3dB and 4dB respectively, and
has therefore suggested the noise mitigation measures that should be put into place. Apart from
using the best practicable means in minimising noise, the specific measures recommended are
a stand off distance between the working area and the nearby noise sensitive properties and /or
the erection of a barrier along the proposed development. This barrier could take the form of an
earth bund or a close boarded fence.
By way of example the report states that erecting a 2.5m high peat bund along the boundary of
the proposed development would reduce noise levels generated by operations by approximately
Miller Goodall, the Council‟s Environmental Consultants, have stated that the extant planning
permission permits the winning and working of peat from 06:00 to 20:00 Mondays to Fridays,
and that initially, the SLR Consulting noise assessment report would appear not to have
considered noise emissions outside the hours of 07:00 and 19:00, even though MPS2 refers to
the noise criteria to be met during the evening (19:00-22:00 hours) and night-time (22:00-07:00
Thus, MPS2 suggests that for the evening period noise levels should not exceed 10dB(A) above
background, and for night-time the limit is 42dB LAeq,1hour when measured at the nearest noise
There was no objection in principle to the proposed development if the extant 06:00 to 20:00
time limit is still to apply, but then Miller Goodall expected to see the noise assessment report
demonstrate how the above MPS2 noise criterion are to be met.
Miller Goodall commented that provided the working hours were limited to 07:00 to 19:00,
Mondays to Fridays, then they were content happy to accept the findings and recommendations
of the SLR Consulting report, subject to a noise limit condition and a demonstration of how the
condition is to be met on any planning approval given.
In the revised ES submitted by SLR consulting, the hours of operation have been amended to
reflect the advice given by Miller Goodall, that is to limit the operations to 07:00 to 19:00,
Mondays to Fridays.
In response to the amended information, Miller Goodall have recommended that conditions are
applied regarding noise limits for the hours of operation proposed, and that a verification report
is submitted to confirm that the noise limits have been met, and that the noise mitigation
measures within the SLR report have been implemented. This mitigation may include a barrier,
the impact of which is discussed in section 6 above which discusses the landscape and visual
impacts of this mitigation.
Any mitigation such as the provision of a noise barrier is likely to be in Wigan, therefore whilst
this is a material consideration for Salford, it would be matter for Wigan to consider as part the
determination of their applications.
In view of the comments made by Miller Goodall, and the revised information submitted by SLR,
it is considered subject to conditions that noise level from the continued working of the site
would be acceptable, and would not cause any significant disamenity for adjacent residents.
As such the proposal would not be in conflict with policy EN17 or the guidance issued in MPG2,
as such it is not considered that a reason refusal could be supported on this ground.
8. Dust / Air Quality
The applicant has assessed in the Environmental Statement the impact on local air quality from
the existing and proposed peat extraction operations at Chat Moss. The assessment specifically
focuses on the potential of the development to generate dust emissions.
This includes the assessment of activities on site including haulage, extraction, stockpiling, and
restoration. From this, potential environmental impacts have been identified and mitigation
measures proposed, with any residual effects identified after these measures have been
The impacts of the development have been assessed in terms of potential of emissions of
particulates (dust) and subsequent impacts regarding health and nuisance potential.
The assessment concludes that as a result of low concentrations of PM10, the proximity of local
receptors to the site and the coarse particles and high moisture content typically associated with
peat extraction, further assessment is not required.
An assessment of dust impacts at the closest dwellings in each direction has been undertaken
with respect to local meteorological conditions and the dust suppression effect of rainfall.
Miller Goodall, the Council‟s Environmental Consultants have stated that given that natural dust
suppression caused by rainfall is on 38.5% days of the year, the methods of working and the
high moisture content of the peat, it is considered that the surrounding dwelling receptors would
not be at a significant risk of dust emissions from the Chat Moss site.
The report recommends that best practice measures should continue to be deployed on the site
to minimise dust emissions. Mitigation measures are in accordance with those recommended
within the Mineral Policy Statement 2 Controlling and Mitigating the Environmental Effects of
Mineral extraction in England, Annex 1: Dust.
Miller Goodall have not raised any objections to the findings and conclusion of the report.
The report then makes recommendations as to the measures to be adopted as an integral part
of the operation of the extraction facility. These include on site monitoring of operations likely to
cause dust; the provision of a water supply and the use of water bowsers; and an appropriate
speed limit on haul roads, rigorously enforced.
Further to this, Miller Goodall recommend a condition be added should permission be granted
requiring the submission of a dust management plan prior to the continuation of the winning
working of peat on the site. Miller Goodall clearly set out the requirements of such a dust
Within the revised ES submitted by SLR, a dust management plan has been included which is
considered to be acceptable by Miller Goodall in terms of content who have subsequently
recommended that a condition would be required to require the implementation of the dust
In view of the comments made by Miller Goodall, and the revised information submitted by SLR
it is considered subject to conditions that the continued working of the site would not cause any
significant dis-amenity for adjacent residents by virtue of dust nuisance, or would lead to any
significant impact on air quality within the area.
As such the proposal would not be in conflict with policies M2 or EN17 of the City of Salford
Unitary Development Plan or the guidance issued in MPS2, and as such it is not considered that
a reason for refusal could be supported on this ground.
9. Highways / Traffic
It is proposed to extend peat extraction on the site until 2025 which is an extension of 15 years.
In simple terms of existing vehicle movements, it is not proposed there would be any difference
in terms of vehicle movements undertaken under the existing arrangements, and those
undertaken in the future.
The site will continue to be accessed from Cutnook Lane and Twelve Yards Road / Astley Road.
These roads are farm roads serving the moss, and are restricted in terms of width and are in
general, not well maintained. There are no footways on these roads given the agricultural nature
of the area.
It is indicated in the Environmental Statement that there are up to 16 two-way wagonloads a
day, when the site is in full operation. The ES also states that the operation is seasonal,
extraction only taking place between the end of May and September, although it is
acknowledged that there will be wagon movements outside of these periods, both due to the
removal of peat stockpiles, and if the weather conditions are favourable for peat extraction.
The applicant states that presently all vehicle movements take place between the hours of
06:00 and 20:00, and that overall, based in an average 14 hour working weekday, that this
equates to approximately 1 HGV trip generated per hour on weekdays.
Concerns have been raised by residents with relation to the movement of large vehicles along
narrow roads on the moss, particularly in terms of frequency of these vehicles. It is
acknowledged that there were no limits set on the number of vehicle movements or the amount
of peat that could be moved within the previous applications approved at the site.
It is considered likely, given that Sinclair‟s were behind in terms of peat extraction as a result of
bad weather in 2007/2008 and that the existing permissions were coming to an end, that
extraction would have been increased in 2010 which would have had an impact on the
frequency of vehicle movements on Astley Road. This also is the case with extraction taking
place within the 2011 season.
The applicant within the revised applications has undertaken to revise the working hours to
07:00-19:00, it is acknowledged however that this would not restrict vehicle movements to the
Given that extraction has been taking place on this part of Chat Moss for many years, it is not
considered that proposed development would be significantly different in terms of the amount of
peat being removed from the site. Whilst large vehicles are being used to remove the peat, the
alternative would be smaller vehicles which would need to be more frequent and may lead to
further disturbance for adjacent residents.
It is noted that the vehicle movements associated with the peat extraction operation, whilst more
frequent, would be similar in terms of the type, speed and size of vehicle to those associated
with other agricultural uses on Chat Moss, which will have large vehicles such as agricultural
machinery, delivery lorries and horse-boxes associated with their operation.
Given the low speed and visibility of these vehicles due to size, whilst a passing vehicle may
cause some inconvenience to pedestrians, and disturbance to adjoining residents, it is
considered in general that this inconvenience would be limited and infrequent and would not be
of any significant detriment to pedestrian safety or to the amenities of neighbours.
Similarly because of the size and low-speed of the vehicles, and the visibility of the roads
serving the development, which are laid out in a grid pattern across Chat Moss, it is not
considered that the development would be of any significant detriment to highway safety in
terms of vehicle conflict.
Whilst the condition of the roads is sub-standard in parts, it is considered unlikely that the roads‟
condition, due to the nature of the vehicles involved within the development, would lead to any
detriment to pedestrian safety, or would contribute to highway safety problems because of the
low speed of traffic.
The Highways officer has stated that Astley Road is adopted and maintained at the City
Councils expense from Liverpool Road as far as its junction with Roscoe Road. Beyond this
point maintenance is the responsibility of the landowner / tenants.
The adopted section is maintained to an adoptable standard by the City Council and is subject
to a cyclic inspection every six months and remedial works to any actionable defects reported at
Ad hoc inspections are also carried out when defects are reported in the intervening period and
again remedial works carried out to any actionable defects. A right of access exists along both
the adopted and un adopted sections of Astley Road to all the farms and properties on this
section of the moss for all types of vehicles.
The Highways officer has advised that it would not be possible to limit the size of vehicles with a
weight restriction as any such order would have an exemption for vehicles requiring access.
It is considered due to the reasons discussed above that the proposed development would not
lead to any significant detriment to highway or pedestrian safety by virtue of the condition of the
In view of the above factors, it is not considered that the development would be of any
significant detriment to pedestrian safety, vehicle safety or occupiers along the access route and
as such is not considered that a reason for refusal could be supported on these grounds.
The roads used for the routing of HGVs associated with the extraction operation are established
routes and it is not considered that the vehicle movements are significantly different to those
associated with other agricultural uses on Chat Moss.
As such, the proposed scheme in terms of highways and traffic impacts would not be in conflict
with MPS2 or policies A8 or M2 of the City of Salford Unitary Development Plan.
10. Mitigation and Alternatives
There are mitigating factors in the assessment of these applications which have been offered by
the applicant, principally in the Draft Heads of Terms. In addition to this, further mitigation
proposals have been proposed within the most recent information submitted on the 20th May
The mitigation measures / alternatives proposed includes the securing of a mixture of phased
and future restoration and aftercare providing a bog habitat re-use of the site, the renewal of the
lease and provision of monies for the management of the Twelve Yards Road SBI, as well as an
undertaking that there will no future applications for peat extraction on the site after 2025.
In addition to this, there would also be the potential to restrict the time of extended extraction
through the use of planning conditions should the Authority feel that this was appropriate.
In the most recent information submitted, the applicant has proposed to increase the buffer zone
from the peat workings adjacent to the Twelve Yards Road SBI as well as install plastic piling.
An assessment of these areas of mitigation and alternatives is given below.
i) Restoration to Bog Habitat and Aftercare
A major benefit presented by the applicant is that the scheme will provide for the restoration of
the site to Bog Habitat, where there is no requirement for this in the existing permissions.
Whilst it is acknowledged that the previously approved permissions give little in the way of
security for the provision of an amenity scheme which would provide Bog Habitat, which the
applicant is taking advantage of, it is not considered that the promised restoration scheme is
viable at the present time given the issues raised in section 4 of the report relating to the
insufficiencies within the restoration plan provided within the applications.
At this time, the offered scheme would not appear to provide for successful restoration of the
site to bogland habitat. Phased restoration of the site may not actually be achievable given the
varying depths of peat on the site, and the problems of commercial practicality that phased
restoration would present.
Notwithstanding this, the restoration of the site after 15 years will not overcome the issues
associated with the loss of a carbon sink, and subsequent carbon issues through the oxidation
of dried/extracted peat.
In view of this, it is not considered overall that even a successful restoration would overcome
the harm from the development in terms of biodiversity and carbon emissions which are covered
in other sections of this report.
ii) Renewal of lease on the Twelve Yards Road SBI and provision of monies for management
If the applications fail, there would be no permission in place for extraction on much of the Chat
Moss site, and thus no approved use for the Twelve Yards Road SBI. The Authority would
potentially lose control of the management of the Twelve Yards Road SBI in this scenario.
It is considered on balance that this loss of control would be far outweighed by the further loss
of peat from the working site should planning permission be granted and the subsequent harm
that would be caused in terms of biodiversity and carbon emissions which are covered in other
sections of the report.
iii) No further applications for peat extraction to be made after 2025
It is considered in view of the changing policy background that there would be a presumption
against the principle of peat extraction in future. It is not considered that the applicant‟s offer is
realistic or carries any weight, especially given the view within these applications that there has
already been a material change in policy which signals a shift away from peat extraction due to
harm being in terms of detriment to biodiversity and the loss of a carbon store..
iv) Reduction of Time for Extraction
The applicant has provided as part of alternatives within chapter 13 of the ES, a description of
alternative scenarios to taking peat extraction to 2025. One of the alternatives assessed is to
take peat extraction to 2015, which would represent a 5 year extension of the extraction time
limit on the sites
The applicant identifies that there would be some benefit in this scenario in providing William
Sinclair with a limited peat supply as well as the temporary employment associated with the
extended timescale. Ultimately, the applicant considers there would be higher carbon emissions
due to the requirement for importation of peat after the expiry of the permissions.
It is noted that whilst this scenario has been addressed by the applicant, that no commitment
has been made or offered in terms of this timescale.
On this point, comments made above with regards to point i) (Restoration to Bog Habitat and
Aftercare) apply. Principally restoration of the site at a later date will not overcome the harm
associated with the loss of a Carbon Sink, and subsequent carbon issues through the oxidation
of dried/extracted peat, or the harm caused to Biodiversity. In terms of environmental impact, it
may be preferable to let the applications fail and leave the peat in the ground.
Even in the 5 year scenario, there still would be the issues of sufficiency of information with
regards to Ecology, Hydrology and Restoration which would need to be addressed, and it is not
considered even with this timescale, should these issues be resolved that issues of harm in
terms of carbon emissions and biodiversity would be overcome.
v) Mitigation for Water Voles and the Twelve Yards Road SBI
The applicant states that the protection of the Twelve Yards Road SBI is implicit within the
mitigation and restoration proposals and states that they are committed to maintaining the 30m
buffer zone between the milling area and the TYR SBI.
The applicant states that the buffer zone is shown in terms of the data provided within the ES to
be sufficient to maintain acceptable groundwater conditions within Twelve Yards Road SBI, and
undertakes to maintain the current perimeter bund that reduces surface water flow from the SBI
for the operational and 15 year aftercare period.
In the revised information, the applicant also offers to increase this buffer zone distance to 60m
to further mitigate potential effects and to provide a precautionary margin to take account of
uncertainties such as climate change affecting rainfall patterns and as such the drying rates of
The applicant also proposes monitoring will be implemented as part of the project for the TYR
SBI, and that should any changes occur indicating that milling was having a continued impact
on TYR SBI, that further mitigation measures would be implemented including;
the observance of wider buffer zone, and/or the installation of plastic piling to restrict
water movement from the Twelve Yards Road SBI
Revised Information – Responses from the main consultees.
The Environment Agency make no specific comments on mitigation but conclude in summary,
there are still significant uncertainties and ambiguities in the data supplied by the applicant,
most notably in relation to how the stand-off adjacent to Twelve Yards Road SBI might be
effectively maintained, and that the water levels required to sustain the SBI have yet to be
The EA state that it would appear that the existing passive dewatering is already impacting on
the groundwater levels at the edge of the SBI. A situation that will continue to occur if the
planning permission is granted and could potentially result in the eventual deterioration of
Twelve Yards Road. The applicant has not provided any detail as to how this will be avoided /
mitigated as part of the current development proposals.
Natural England state that the suggestion of an extended buffer zone and other mitigation
measures proposed by SLR is welcomed, but as it stands that there is no clear commitment,
details of information on the feasibility of such a plan.
NE question the trigger for mitigation being based on further monitoring as that data made
available to date already indicates that a potentially damaging drop in water level is already
Lancashire Wildlife Trust has made the following comments on the revised information
The buffer zone, in parts, is less than 30 metres which is a breach of planning
conditions, a 60m zone is welcomed but no details have been provided on this. The
Trust consider the impact of the existing ditch on the Twelve Yards Road SBI could
never be removed completely.
GMEU have made the following comments on the revised information regarding mitigation;
The offer of the 60m stand off, in the absence of sufficient detail to corroborate the
impact of this mitigation can have little weight at this stage.
Installation of plastic piling to restrict water movement would destroy future hydrological
connection between sites across the wider peat resource.
The mitigation does not address wider Mossland Drainage issues or other semi-natural
Annex 1 habitats within SBIs not currently subject to active restoration management or
other degraded habitats
There is no „trigger‟ point proposed for remediation or information on monitoring protocol
Insufficient details of piling to be provided, in terms of extent, and how installation and
maintenance of this piling will be resourced, given that replacement will be needed within
the 30 year window for achieving restorability.
Given the comments made in relation to v) the increase of buffer zone and /or the installation of
plastic piling, it is not considered that it has been demonstrated in terms of detail or analysis
whether the mitigation proposed would overcome the concerns raised regarding the potential
de-watering of the Twelve Yards Road SBI.
Even should this issue be resolved it is not considered that the issue of harm in terms of carbon
emissions and damage to the potential biodiversity value of the peat extraction site would be
11. Other Matters
The Council have been advised (via the applicant‟s solicitor) that where peat on the site is
“ridged up” and in particularly dry conditions, this can constitute a fire hazard. In addition the
operator has verbally stated that peat extraction also reduces the risk of fire because it takes off
the dusty layer on the surface which is most at risk of combustion. Furthermore when site
workers are on site milling/harvesting they are always on fire watch so they can spot a fire in its
early stages. They are trained to deal with it using on site water containers and pumps.
Occasionally if a fire does take hold they will call the fire brigade but the fire brigade can only
assist if the fire is close to the access path.
The Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service have been asked to give advice on the
matters raised above.
In general terms they advise that an un-drained peat bog does not constitute a fire risk given
that it maintains a high water content. The risk only increases if the conditions are changed or
altered to a dryer environment i.e. through water extraction or climatic conditions (e.g. drought).
Surface vegetation surrounding the bog may be susceptible to fire if climatic conditions are
conducive to fire spread.
So for a fire to ignite a number of elements or factors need to be present. The water content
needs to be at a level to which a fire can proliferate, the weather conditions (low precipitation,
wind and temperature) will also need to be in a range which will assist in the spread of fire. If
ignited by the presence of a heat source peat fires will smoulder and burn downwards into the
Acrotelm and Catotlem layers. These fires can burn undetected for long periods of time
facilitated by the high carbon content of peat.
The milled area left behind after harvesting of the peat is susceptible to drying by climatic
conditions therefore making it more susceptible to surface fires.
Causes of fires on peat workings can be attributed to two areas; accidental and deliberate.
Accidental ignition of surrounding vegetation can for example be caused by discarded smoking
materials and unsupervised camp/rubbish fires. Peat fires can also be ignited by unguarded hot
surfaces (exhausts) of agricultural or plant machinery.
The Fire Service do however advise that a responsible and compliant operator should ensure
the risk is kept to a minimum at all times, by ensuring a fire plan and risk assessment process is
in place prior to and during the milling, ridging and harvesting of the peat. They advise that the
operator should have a robust fire management plan which is instigated and maintained
throughout the peat harvesting period. It is the responsibility of the operator to make contact
with the local fire and rescue service to produce a site specific incident plan.
The service do recognise that the problems associated with dealing with incidents in this area
centre around the immediate access of fire fighting appliances to the site and access to the
incident ground. This can be further exacerbated by the shortage / viability of open water
sources to extinguish fires.
In response it is evident that the winning and working of peat per se has an element of fire risk
associated with it. That risk is heightened when certain conditions come together. Clearly the
operator is aware of those risks but equally has a responsibility to minimise those risks at all
times. Furthermore the operator has a duty to manage that risk through risk assessments and a
site specific incident plan. This would have applied during the period that the operator has been
extracting peat from the site since the 1990‟s as it does now and should have been in the mind
of the operator as he approached the time limit on peat extraction for the three planning
permissions granted in the 1990‟s.
To minimise the risk of fire other than by appropriate site management, by for example allowing
further and continued peat extraction, where that extraction would be potentially harmful, would
be perverse and illogical.
Having considered this matter I am of the view that it has insufficient weight as a material
consideration that would lead to me to a contrary view and recommendation should the
application be refused.
Liverpool – Manchester Railway
In their response of 2nd November 2010, Network Rail commented that it had been agreed with
the applicant in 1981, to provide a stand-off distance of 30m of peat extraction from the railway
fence, but that this had not been a condition of the 1991 permission (Wigan Permission) given
that essentially this stand-off had been maintained on site.
Network Rail had requested that this stand-off distance be re-introduced as a condition in the
interests of safety grounds, however in their later response of 3rd March 2011 Network Rail
confirmed that they had no objections of further comments to make provided that the operations
were carried out strictly in accordance with the application details supplied.
Given Network Rail‟s latter comments, and the 30m standoff is approximate to the area shown
on the plans between the northern drain and the railway boundary, submitted with the
applications, it is not considered that a new condition to control this stand-off is required.
Rights of Way
Rights of way are maintained across the site with the site in extraction, whilst the applications
envisage further peat extraction, this will not impact on the rights of way across the site which
follow established drain systems.
It is considered, in the event of a positive recommendation that improved /amended rights of
way could form part of the restoration plan for the site, with any closures/necessary diversions
coming forward under the appropriate rights-of-way legislation.
In the event of a refusal the restoration to amenity would allow for the
continuation/improvements or amendments to the Rights of Way network.
This applicant‟s advise that a benefit of the proposal would be the maintenance of employment
levels at the site for a further 15 years. The site, together with Astley Moss, employs between 13
and 18 staff depending on the season. The majority of these staff live locally. Clearly the
retention of employment for the staff is a material planning consideration although the levels of
employment fluctuate with seasonal demand. It is considered however that the benefit of
maintaining these employment levels is outweighed by the overall impact of the proposed
development and its harm.
12. Summary and Conclusion
It is considered that there are still outstanding issues in the assessment of the applications that
have still not been addressed in the submission of a revised ES and further information. In
addition to this it considered that there have been material changes in policy which have a
subsequent impact on the assessment of the applications in terms of the potential of the
development to influence climate change and on the effect of the development in terms of
Whilst some of the additional submitted information presents a degree of clarification of issues
discussed in the original panel report and has modified, in part, the view of the statutory
consultees in particular, it is not considered that this additional information sufficiently addresses
or overcomes the concerns raised previously to warrant a change to the recommendation in
It is our opinion that the matters below are still of concern to the Local Planning Authority
i) Material Changes in Policy with regards to Carbon Emissions
It is not considered that the developer has put forward a compelling argument to justify a
proposal which will lead to significant levels of carbon emissions. It is considered that since the
original applications were originally approved that there has been a significant change in the
priority of climate change on the national agenda which is reflected in the recent planning
guidance in PPS1, and the supplement to it, Planning and Climate Change.
Mitigation has not been provided for within the scheme and it is considered that the extraction of
peat from the site would lead to the irretrievable loss of a carbon store which would contribute to
climate change due to the release of carbon dioxide from a carbon store due to the oxidation of
dried peat both on the site, and in its extracted state.
It is not considered there are any other material considerations which would lead to a different
As such the proposal is contrary to PPS 1 and its supplement, planning and climate change.
ii) Material Changes in Policy with Regards to Biodiversity
It is considered that there have been significant changes and increased weight in the protection
afforded to biodiversity matters since the previous applications at the site were approved.
In particular, the site fulfils the criteria of an important Annex 1 Habitat, and the approval of
further peat extraction would damage the potential biodiversity of the habitat and could in the
absence of sufficient information detrimentally impact the ability of the site to be restored to
active bogland habitat.
As such, it is considered that the proposal would be contrary to PPS9 and policy EN8 of the City
of Salford Unitary Development Plan.
iii) Sufficient information to assess the impacts of the applications
It is considered that information submitted within the Environmental Statement is insufficient.
Objections have been received from Natural England and the Environment Agency who express
their serious concerns on the inadequacy of the Environmental Statement with regard to:-
- Ecology - Nature and Habitat Conservation
and impacts on the ecology of the adjacent Twelve Yards Road SBI and water vole habitat; and
impact on the hydrology and hydrogeology of the same SBI
In light of all the considerations above and further discussions on the wording of the reasons for
refusal they have been updated and redrafted.
Six reasons for refusal were contained in the report and recommendation of the 25th May 2011.
Original reason 3 has been deleted given that the supplements to the ES have addressed the
shortcomings and paucity of information contained in the original ES to satisfy the EIA
regulations in overall terms and allow the application to be considered and capable of
determination, although it remains the firm view that the development has the potential to have
significant impacts which the submitted information insufficiently addresses at this time. Two
reasons have been combined and the remaining reasons have been redrafted following legal
That Panel refuse planning permission for all 3 planning applications for the reasons stated
below., It is not considered that there are any other material considerations to indicate
Recommended Reasons for Refusal
1.The development which comprises the loss of a carbon sink will lead to significant
carbon dioxide emissions from oxidisation of peat removed as part of the proposal. No
mitigation has been provided within the application to address this issue nor could such
mitigation be reasonably conditioned. In view of this, the proposal is contrary to the spirit
and intentions of national, regional and local policy with respect to climate change and in
particular PPS1 and the supplement; Planning and Climate Change that seek to limit
carbon dioxide emissions.
2.The proposal has the potential to have a significant impact on the ecology of the
adjacent Twelve Yards Road SBI and water vole habitat. Insufficient information has been
provided within the ES to assess the application in relation to the ecological effects of the
development in view of this the proposal is contrary to PPS9, MPS2, policies DP7 and
EM1and EM1 (B) of the Regional Spatial Strategy and policies EN8, EN11 and ST13 of
the City of Salford Unitary Development Plan.
3.The proposal has the potential to have significant impacts on the hydrology and
hydrogeology of the adjacent Twelve Yards Road SBI. Insufficient information has been
provided within the ES to assess the application in relation to the hydrological and hydro-
geological impacts of the development in view of this the proposal is contrary to PPS9,
MPS 2, policies DP7 and EM1 and EM1 (B) of the Regional Spatial Strategy and policies
EN8, EN11 and ST13 of the City of Salford Unitary Development Plan.
4.The applicant has failed to demonstrate that the site can be successfully restored to a
lowland bogland habitat following the continued extraction of peat, and as such it is
considered that the proposed development would lead to irretrievable damage to the peat
substrate which presently meets the criteria of an Annex 1 habitat. In view of this the
proposal is contrary to PPS9, MPS2, policies DP7 and EM1and EM1 (B) of the Regional
Spatial Strategy and policies M2, EN8, EN11 and ST13 of the City of Salford Unitary