Bogs are not as cute as baby seals but are premier league precious in terms of bio diversity, carbon retention and for birds and bugs in the environment. They also contain vast quantities of peat, and below that, clay, sand and gravel. All worth bucket loads of profits for big business.
Peel Holdings has been involved in peat extraction on the land it owns on Salford's moss land for years, either with or without the knowledge of Salford City Council. The Salford Star did a huge feature on this three years ago in issue 4 – please read it for all the sordid background.
Now, with Peel Holdings putting pressure on Salford Council to allow further huge swathes of green belt land to be used for more peat extraction the Save Our North West Green Belt group have arranged a protest walk to and through the bog land to see at first hand what Peel Holdings is up to.
Councillor Derek Antrobus, Salford Council's Lead Member for Planning has suddenly jumped on the campaign, releasing a statement that Peel "object to the proposal to restore 350 hectares of Chat Moss to natural habitat, saying the land is needed for mineral extraction. Peel also argue that the Council should support peat extraction on Chat Moss."
He added that "My initial reaction is one of shock. The proposal seems to fly in the face of the vision that the Council wants for the city".
The Salford Star's reaction to Derek Antrobus's reaction is one of shock too…that he's finally recognising the major environmental disaster after all these years. Our article three years ago exposing the peat extraction drew absolutely no reaction from Salford Council or Derek Antrobus. Indeed the official Council comment at the time was "We are not aware of any peat extraction since October 2005"...
Meanwhile, Salford Council's new draft Core Strategy allows for wholesale destruction of green belt sites in Irlam and Little Hulton.
Politics, profits, hypocrisy and protection of the environment clash head on at Chat Moss this weekend. And in the middle of it all, witness the land crying for help…