TV celebrity Chris Packham weighs in on under-threat Macclesfield Danes Moss site

By Millie Norval

14th Jun 2022 | Local News

The famous conservationist posted a three minute clip opposing the plans at the South Macclesfield site. (Image - Chris Packham)
The famous conservationist posted a three minute clip opposing the plans at the South Macclesfield site. (Image - Chris Packham)

A campaign to block a housing development in Macclesfield has been brought to the attention of TV presenter Chris Packham. 

Packham (61) is best known for his nature series The Really Wild Show and Springwatch, broadcasted on BBC channels. 

The Danes Moss Nature Reserve, popular with visitors for the 33 acres of walking trails and wildlife habitats, provides escapism for the residents of surrounding areas. 

There are plans to build almost 1000 houses on the fringes of the Reserve, which has now been opposed by the celebrity in a Facebook video. 

The plans outline 950 houses, retail outlets and a link road being planned, and is just 70 metres from a Specific Site of Scientific Interest. Pictured: Peatlands at the site. (Image - Alexander Grenesmith / Macclesfield Nub News)

The site has a very important resource - peat, which is a natural carbon sink. 

"Peat is very important for supporting specialist biodiversity of animals," stated Packham. 

However the impact of continuous burning of Peat, which releases carbon emissions, is detrimental to the climate crisis. 

Packham also highlighted the area's significance of housing Willow Tits, which is one of the UK's fastest-declining birds. (Image - © Francis C. Franklin / CC-BY-SA-3.0 Unchanged bit.ly/3xv5fNU)

"Danes Moss is being threatened by developers wishing to build 950 houses on it," Packham explained.

"Danes Moss, I think, is an important scrap and well worth a fight." 

Packham encouraged the 41,000 viewers of his Facebook video to sign a petition created by members of the local community, who treasure the natural beauty of Danes Moss. 

The petition had 9,000 signatures before Packham's video, but it now stands at 15,500 backers and counting. 

Packham also acknowledged the UK's nead for houses, but not at the expense of peat and habitat to burn. (Image - Chris Packham Facebook)

'SAVE DANES MOSS' campaign leader, Tom Eccles, who is based in Tytherington, is delighted with Packham's intervention. 

"Chris' video is an interesting development," he said. 

Tom Eccles speaking at the site in February 2022. (Image - Alexander Greensmith)

"The leadership at Cheshire East Council need to realise that they are on the wrong path with their insane plan to develop Danes Moss. 

"Until they cancel this reckless project, the profile of this issue will only grow."

You can watch the full video on Facebook.

Packham also urged supporters to write to Michael Gove, who has served as Environment Minister and is currently Housing Minister. (Image - Chris Packham)

The petition can be signed here.

When asked to respond to Packham's video a spokesperson for Cheshire East Council said: "The South Macclesfield Development Area is allocated for housing and commercial uses in the Cheshire East Local Plan and was granted outline planning approval in 2019."

"The majority of the development land is under the ownership of a private developer and therefore outside the council's control. However, the council previously agreed to take the lead role on the development's infrastructure.

"By doing this, the council is working to ensure that the method used to stabilise the ground will protect the carbon already stored in the peat and prevent, as far as possible, further leakage.

"If the council did not proceed with this development on its land, the private sector would take the lead and the council would have much less control over the ultimate development of the land outside the Local Planning Authority powers.

"The environmental considerations for a project such as this are complex with many interdependencies and the council has commissioned reports into the various aspects.

"This includes a peatland carbon status report, which has been written by independent environmental consultants and sets out the key issues relating to the development of peatland at SMDA.

"The council remains committed to protecting and renewing peatland and the creation of new wetland areas across the borough, and we have an ambitious carbon neutral action plan, working together to combat climate change across the borough."

The site is popular with dog walkers. (Image - Alexander Greensmith / Macclesfield Nub News)

The spokesperson added: "An environmental statement was submitted with the outline planning application when it was granted permission in 2019. However, the council, as applicant, has decided to present further detail to the local planning authority following responses received from key planning consultees and due to the increased prominence of climate change in national and local policy since the development was initially considered.

"This will build on the assessment of the peatland carbon status report and will consider the potential impacts of the Phase 1 proposals at SMDA upon the peatlands at the site and will identify methods to mitigate any potentially significant effects of the development.

"It is anticipated that these reports will be published by the Local Planning Authority in due course. It is important that this evidence is viewed in the round.

"The current applications for the SMDA, which have been subject to the normal processes of public consultation and engagement with statutory bodies, will be considered by the Local Planning Authority and presented to the council's Strategic Planning Board in due course."

Packham's intervention has added over 6,000 signatures to the petition. (Image - Alexander Greensmith / Macclesfield Nub News)

See Also: Two Danes Moss protests in a week to protect South Macclesfield peatland

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