Over the past year at Chat Moss peat extraction site there's been protests by MPs and councillors, Earth First protesters chaining themselves to diggers and organised walks across the Moss by Salford Friends of the Earth so that people can see at first hand the eco vandalism being carried out by peat miners William Sinclair on land owned by Peel Holdings.
Everyone who has witnessed the precious wet bog land being bled to death has been absolutely horrified.
Mick Weston, operations manager at The Wildlife Trust told Salford Star: "In terms of global importance, these habitats are our rainforest, and 99% of them have been destroyed in our area in the last 100 years. We are determined to save the rest before it is too late."
Salford MP Barbara Keeley told us "It's important for as many people as possible to understand the issues that are going on here...it's absolutely desolate…"
Chat Moss contains rare precious raised bog, protected in law from a directive passed down from the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. In terms of bio diversity these bogs are premier league. They are formed through the ages from waterlogged mosses which expand like a wet sponge and rise above ground level. On the surface grow special plants and bugs which attract rare birds and butterflies. Underneath are deep layers of peat, rich in nutrients, which makes the soil perfect for the grow bags you get in garden centres.
To get the peat, the bog is stripped and the water drained. And once the peat is extracted, the clay, sand and gravel below it is mined, leaving a land full of nothing.
For decades, land owner Peel Holdings has allowed the land to be murdered, while Salford Council has obligingly rolled over and, either turned a blind eye to illegal peat extraction or given planning permission for it to happen, citing all sorts of warped logic (see here for full details: Peel Holdings and the Plight of the Salford Butterfly).
Last December, William Sinclair's planning permission to mine peat on the Moss ran out and in the next few weeks it's going back to Salford and Wigan councils seeking permission to bleed and pillage the land for another 15 years.
In the meantime, on Good Friday, the company began extracting peat again, totally illegally.
"William Sinclair's have no right to extract peat on Chat Moss without planning permission" said Lancashire Wildlife Trust's Chief Executive Anne Selby "We utterly condemn this illegal activity and blatant disregard for due process shown. We call on Salford and Wigan councils to step in and take appropriate enforcement action."
Under pressure from environmental campaigners, who have already lodged over a thousand objections to the mining plans, Salford Council, for once has now stepped in and stopped the current illegal peat extraction…
"After seeking legal advice, the council has served a temporary stop notice on the developer to prevent any further peat extraction pending the outcome of the panel's decision" says Councillor Derek Antrobus, Salford City Council's lead member for planning "We have received a request from the developers to extend their licence to extract peat from Chat Moss. This request will be referred to the planning panel later in May and any decision will be made in line with planning legislation."
Environmental campaigners are now hoping that Salford Council does the right thing and puts a stop to the murder of what's left of its precious boglands.
"Peat extraction is enormously damaging to the environment, and has had its day" says Anne Selby "The government has just completed a consultation on its proposals to phase out the use of peat in the amateur horticultural sector by 2020.
"The government was looking for voluntary action and responsible behaviour from the peat producers" she adds "In view of Sinclair's total disregard of this, we wonder if voluntary action will be enough and ask the government to consider stronger measures."
For more details of Lancashire Wildlife Trust's Save Chat Moss Campaign click here.
For the whole Salford Star history of peat mining on Chat Moss:
See Peel Holdings and the Plight of the Salford Butterfly: click here
See Salford Moon Walk: click here
See the Blue Peter Garden and MediaCityUK: click here
See Earth First's Protest details: click here and click here and click here
See Save Salford's Rainforest: click here
The William Sinclair application for planning permission to continue peat extraction on Chat Moss should be going to Salford Council's planning committee in the next few weeks - keep clicking here and maybe some details will appear at some point)