Wednesday, 14 December 2011
Environmental destruction in Mossley
Dear Citizen of Tameside,
I understand that your time is very valuable but there is a situation that I feel I should bring to your attention. I am writing to inform you of an incident that happened on Saturday 10th December which has caused an unacceptable situation that has deeply affected local wildlife and a group of residents, in Mossley, Lancs.
My name is ***** ***** and I am writing to as many people as possible because I feel that I need to create as much publicity as I can, so that this issue can be rectified and will not arise again in the future.
There is a piece of ground to the rear of our row of terraces that has naturally developed into a beautiful wildlife sanctuary over the last 40 years. The area has a severe gradient and was filled with 30-40ft spruce, rowan and willow trees that attracted many birds to roost, rest and breed and an enormous variety of plants and wild flowers, such as foxgloves, primroses, bluebells, ferns, etc. and many types of moss and lichen. The range of birds and animals was astounding for a small, urban area. We had song/mistle thrushes, tits, finches, wagtails, collared doves, blackbirds, owls, bats, voles, frogs, newts, toads, butterflies, bumble bees, etc. As residents, we understood that it was not our land and that we were extremely lucky and proud to back onto it. We had an understanding with the owners that we would keep the edges that touched our garden neat for them. They had tried to get planning permission twice but were turned down on account of buildings looming over our properties and the single track road that a fire engine could not access. We told the owners, several times over the years, that we would be willing to buy the land off them to keep as a natural environment but they refused.
SATURDAY 10th DECEMBER
We were awoken at 8:30am to the sound of chain-saws and the frantic knocking of our neighbours. We looked out and half of the landscape had disappeared to the rear. These neighbours have lived here for 27 years and were obviously extremely traumatized. The local councillor Paul Dowthwaite was informed and turned up soon. He was very supportive and understanding and wished there was more he could do. We went up to the top at Roughtown Road to speak to the workers. A man who was there spoke to us and said he'd bought the land a year ago and he was going to put in for planning permission for some garages. We continually questioned him over why he needed to destroy the whole landscape if he had not yet got planning permission and he insisted that he had to in order to do a survey of the land. We said it was so drastic and that there were other ways to do a survey such as GPS but he said "lasers don't go through trees", which I found to be very dismissive and un-cooperative. He also said "it's no big deal" but when questioned about if there were changes at the back of his house he went quiet. We asked why he had not informed us about his proposed activity and he said "if I went round telling you all, it would have dragged it all out for months". He told the workers to carry on but one of the neighbours said he would not let it happen and stood in front of the trees. The new owner said that it was his land and that if we prevented work then he would call the police, which after a few minutes he did. The police turned up and were also understanding of the situation but said that we have no legal rights and we should go. We offered to buy the land now with the trees still on it from the new owner but he came up with an unrealistic amount.
The area has now been decimated but we feel such an immoral act cannot go unnoticed and are certain that such severe environmental destruction/vandalism should not be swept under the carpet. We feel that at the very least, there should have been a wildlife survey of the ground before any changes. We are also worried that, as he is going to put in for planning permission, the land will be assessed as it is, rather than as the amazing green space and wonderful habitat it was. As a group of residents, we are unsure where to go from here, so I am informing various media and environmental groups to seek advice and hopefully gain support and therefore restoration of the area.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. TMBC Chapter 13 Conservation & Environment.