An Interview with Dr Charlotte Starkey, Historian and researcher

It is fantastic to have the opportunity to talk to our friend and local historian, Dr Charlotte Starkey about the History of Carrington Moss and the (lack of) Archaeological Studies that have been carried out on this wonderfully, rich and diverse landscape.  Charlotte talks about everything, from our local Medieval history, to the current day, from the heavily industrialised North West quadrant of the Moss, to the nature-rich peat-moss that we all know and love.

FOCM:  So Charlotte, I know you have recently updated your page on our website with some information about the history of Carrington Moss.  Can you summarise briefly and we’ll include a link to your page so people can find out more?

Charlotte:  The area is rich in Medieval History.  Yes please do take a look at the latest page on the website here for my detailed reflexions on the Medieval period.  In these latest musings, I’ve focussed on the first part of the talk I have given to a number of groups about the Medieval Carrington story and there is more to come.  I really want to share this history, largely ignored in many circles, in order to give context to discussions about the Moss and its function.

Windmill Inn, Carrington (Courtesty of David Dixon 2011)

Carrington Hall, the seat of the Carrington family (those descended from Adam de Carinton), was sited to the north of Carrington Moss, almost opposite the Carrington Lane/Ackers Lane junction, west of ‘the Mile Road’.  Further along, just beyond the Windmill Inn (pictured left, courtesy of David Dixon, 2011), is the site of what was the old mill.  Part of the last of the buildings is still there, very dilapidated (you can tell the lack of respect for the history of this area; the rear of the remains of the mill which channelled the tailrace back to the River Mersey is covered with a film of oil with the pungent odour of crude oil and is quite dangerous).  The actual mill pond was a significant structure in its heyday, but it was in-filled and lost when the highways department (Ministry of Transport) and local government re-routed the old lane directly across the mill pond to straighten the road for heavy goods vehicles.

It is possible that Carrington Lane or its equivalent was a route for the Romans to Wilderspool and one cannot rule out the possibility of archaeological remains along the navigable River Mersey. 

Interestingly, a Manchester painter (Thomas Barritt, 1743-1820), who was also an antiquarian, described what he named as a sword once belonging to the Black Prince.  Not that the sword came from Carrington but it reminds us that the Caryngton men-at-arms were heavily involved in the Hundred Years War (and note that the spelling of the ‘modern’ Carrington surname changes as we move through the archives).  J. P. Earwaker dismissed Barritt’s curved scimitar sword because he found that the scabbard on the Black Prince’s effigy at Canterbury was straight; but that does not preclude the possibility that Edward had more than one sword and it would be quite unusual for just one sword to have lasted his many battles in the Hundred Years War.   

Sad to say, much of the named artefacts of the Caryngtons, in wills and other documents from the medieval period, have not survived, or at least have not been discovered, in this area.  One has to remember that, when the Booths took over Carrington circa 1600, they systematically appear to have wiped the Caryngton name ‘off the map’, as Sir Peter Leycester suggested in his history of the Bucklow Hundred written in the mid-seventeenth century.  

One piece of the Carrington dynasty is the portion of their medieval chapel dedicated to St Nicholas in Bowdon Church and the ‘Carrington Knight’ in St John’s Collegiate Church in Chester which has been mutilated at some point in the distant past.  Saint Nicholas was the patron saint of seafarers and numerous members of the Caryngtons sailed regularly to Normandy, La Rochelle and Bordeaux from Calais, Portsmouth, Southampton and possibly Chester, which was a very busy commercial port in the Middle Ages.  

FOCM:  Fascinating, so, have there been any recent archaeology studies of Carrington Moss, do you know?

Charlotte:  One study, mainly a geological survey, was carried out under the auspices of Lancaster University in 1995. The results can be found in a book by David Hall, C. E. Wells and Elizabeth Huckerdy, called the Wetlands of Greater Manchester (there is a copy in Manchester Central Library Special Collections).  Though geology was their main emphasis, they mentioned the problems of conducting archaeological studies on the Moss stating that the Moss was very ‘busy’, referring to the amount of urban waste which was thrown on the Moss by Manchester Corporation.  They themselves did not carry out a detailed archaeological survey.

FOCM: The history of the Moss is so interesting. When did Manchester Corporation start to use the site?

Charlotte: In 1886, when the Stamfords of Dunham Massey, then owners of the Moss, faced increasing financial concerns, they sold the Moss to Manchester Corporation’s Cleansing Department.  This was also the time when the landowners of England were coming under increasing pressure from the newly formed local councils to release land for other uses.  Initially, the agreement was that only ‘night soil’ (human waste) would be thrown on the Moss to be used as fertiliser for the newly laid out agricultural fields, organised in a series of square and rectangular patterns along the routes which you can still walk today: Birch Road, Woodcote Road, Ashton Road, North Road and so on.  This was in the central area where Manchester United has its training ground.  By calling these tracks ‘Roads’ Manchester Corporation tried to recreate the Moss as an extension of its ‘urbanisation’ into north-east Cheshire but, before then, most of these ‘roads’ did not exist except as tracks, and certainly not in the regimented manner in which the Corporation set them out for the light railway system they introduced to disperse the ‘night soil’.  Moss Lane is a very old track into the Moss.

FOCM:  But they didn’t just stick to human waste, did they?

Charlotte:  No, the City soon began to dump its refuse on the Moss, which is why you can find lots of oyster shells, glass bottles, pots, shards and many other things, even on the surface of the Moss.  This was not the agreement with the Stamfords, who objected, but by then it was too late.  They had sold the Moss for £38,000, which was £13,000 more than their own estimates (though they didn’t tell the Corporation that).  From that point onwards the Corporation regarded the Moss as their own and it was a significant move because that also meant that Manchester had gained a major foothold into north-east Cheshire, a fact which is quite obvious today with the spread of their airport. 

FOCM:  Oh those canny Stamfords!   Some of the farms are still there today.

Charlotte:  Yes, the farms are the result of intensive draining from the Corporation’s efforts to increase the agricultural benefits of the Moss.  At first, a great success (it was actually listed as ‘Park’ with days out for visitors to view the nurseries etc.).  It grew flowers and vegetables for the increasing populations of Manchester and peat was used for the stabling of all the Corporation’s horses.  At one point, before all this, a commercial company had extracted peat from the Moss much earlier in the nineteenth century.  Civic dignitaries would visit the Moss on specified weekends dressed in their finery, travelling, much to the amusement of the locals, on gleaming steamboats that on working weekdays towed behind them to the Moss barge-loads of manure, stinking to high heaven.  The Corporation took great pride in their new-found greenspace.

FOCM:  So what happened next?

Charlotte:  With the dumping of urban waste, which began relatively quickly (1900s),the Moss fell into disuse apart from the work on the few remaining tenancies (all the smaller tenancies were ousted when Manchester bought the Moss).  One has to remember the traumatic impact of two World Wars as well.  That put paid to the efforts to keep the Moss a ‘pleasant prospect’ and, like much of the surrounding land around the River Mersey, from here southwards to Northenden, the Moss became a vast municipal tip.  It’s not so long ago they were still burning methane off the urban tip that skirted the River Mersey from the A56 towards Urmston Meadows.  This problem was made worse when, in 1947, under government auspices, a petrochemical industry was introduced along Carrington Lane (Petrocarbon to 1955ish; Shell up to 2014; Lyondellbasell now).

FOCM:  Did those companies bring benefits to the Moss?

Charlotte:  No, they introduced serious contamination to the North-Western quadrant of the Moss: whilst discovering the method for fractionating crude oil, they introduced polymers, polycarbons, methane, cyanide, nitrogen dioxide, adding to the cocktail of zinc, chrome and other hard metals, asbestos etc, already introduced by Manchester Corporation with the gas works and other industries.  In fact, a recent commercially sponsored ‘dig’ on the north-eastern sector of the Moss listed ‘plastic’ among the subsoil as an archaeological find!  Modern plastic sheeting was actually ‘invented’ here, with Petrocarbon, the very first petrochemical company specifically established to create an alternative to rubber for industrial and commercial use in 1947.  This was, of course, emulated across the world once the chemists at Petrocarbon left, were poached or enticed by more lucrative salaries abroad.  We all know the disastrous consequences the world now faces with plastic pollution.  Spoil from the earlier gas works and coking plants, the Irlam Steel works etc, all added to serious hazardous materials on that sector of the Moss, and these are still major problems.  There is a curious converse parallel here for the Moss to locations where mining destroyed landscapes in England and Wales.  Coal mining led to the release of vast amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere when burnt.  The industrial revolution of Manchester and the world was built on that energy source.  On the Moss, there was, and still is the residue of, a substantial body of peat in which carbon dioxide has been locked (as in all peat bogs) naturally.  Yet, industrialists and politicians at a local and national level encouraged the importation of a major pollutant, oil, onto the pristine natural site of the peat bog.  That insult to a natural carbon sink began a process of degradation of the Moss as a carbon-capture source whilst polluting the subsurface of the Moss.  In every sense Manchester’s industrial past is marked by dreadful pollution of the natural world, a tradition which is continued in attempts to degrade Carrington Moss still further.

FOCM:  The tragedy of “progress”, is there any of the original peat moss left?

Charlotte:  This is a key heritage asset for the North West Region.  It is one of the last remaining peat bogs from the last Ice Age, along with Chat Moss, and it is (a) land designated as Green Belt; (b) a carbon-capture sink, like all peat bogs; (c) a source of great joy and wellbeing to many walkers, cyclists, and horse-riders (the horses bringing the equestrian tradition of the Medieval age that continues right into the present day).  It has designated sites of special scientific interest and biodiversity.  By Moss Lane there is still evidence of the original Moss, as well as at Birch Moss Covert.  When the Carrington Spur was constructed, 50,000 tons of peat had to be removed before the land could be considered safe for heavy traffic.  One can understand, therefore, that, outside the heavily industrialised sector, there are vast quantities of peat beneath the agricultural surfaces elsewhere.  You can see this in the coloured water of the drainage, that deep red-brown colour of peat leaching from the land, taking carbon-dioxide with it.

FOCM:  So we should retain, preserve and restore as much as we can of the peat moss, it is so valuable in the current battle against climate change?

Charlotte:  The great threat now comes from Trafford Council’s plan to construct 4 major roads and build a huge housing estate on the Moss, in spite of numerous studies, old and new.  The Manchester and District Regional Planning Proposals, 1945, for example, produced by Rowland Nicholas (Jarrold & Sons, 1945, see p. 11).  Nicholas (a Surveyor and Chief Engineer to the Manchester and District Regional Planning Committee) specifically stated that the Moss was unsuitable for housing; and this came from a man who had revolutionary visions of change to Manchester that never materialised.  The most telling evidence of all, of course, is the fact that, for over twelve thousand years no one built upon it; and the supposed genius of modern construction and engineering techniques are never going to improve on what nature has built on the Moss over many millions of years.  If these plans go ahead, they would not only destroy the Moss and create an unhealthy urban mess; they would create a major source of additional pollution, destroy a key carbon capture area, and lead to massive flooding.  As a peat bog, it retains vast quantities of excess water which otherwise would have nowhere to go.  The building of any major roads here will generate a huge number of additional traffic journeys, including countless numbers of cars coming into the area from outside Trafford, saturating the roads beyond, thus leading to even more road building in more green belt areas around and beyond Sinderland.  Home builders’ bodies also consistently warn against building on Peat Bogs.

Equally important is the World Health Organisation’s warning of the links between climate change and abuse of the natural world on the one hand, and the spread of infectious diseases in the modern world, on the other. In the light of the concerns for our climate, and because of the mounting evidence that abuse of the natural landscape and the creatures on it is not unconnected to the fact that we have a major pandemic threat with us this very moment, it is astonishing that the political will to listen to the science and respect the natural world seems as far away as ever in Trafford and Greater Manchester Combined Authority.  It is hugely worrying, particularly when we know that the Covid-19 threat has basically brought every country in the world to a standstill and crippled the world economy.  Where is the sense in building new roads across a peat bog which will mean the destruction of one of nature’s climate and flood control mechanisms, a resource of huge biodiversity, which helps to sustain the health of the planet and the people and animals on it, in the light of the science of climate catastrophe and human disease?

Ominously an article in New Scientist of 15th October 2019, using a predictive model that had proved successful in forewarning of every past pandemic when applied retrospectively, warned precisely of the link between human disease and climate change at the very moment the Covid-19 pandemic was establishing itself without much of the western world having a clue  (New Scientist, 15th October 2019, “How Deadly Disease Outbreaks could worsen as the climate changes”).  We all know what happened just about the time of the publication of this article and the consequences across the world even as we discuss these issues this very minute: in reality coronavirus was already afoot by early Autumn 2019.  The same subject was examined extensively in a powerful study by the World Health Organisation in 2018: Climate Change and Human Health (World Health Organisation, Feb. 2018).  

When Charles Dickens spoke to the Manchester Athenaeum in 1843, he praised its members for enabling study and reading to take place amidst the business of the industrial world because reflection and thought encouraged self-respect, self-confidence and respect for all around oneself.  Some of these qualities are desperately needed in the world of the Manchester Planners today as they try to steam ahead with the destruction of all that is important and beautiful around them in places such as Carrington Moss.

FOCM:  That would certainly be a tragedy for our Moss, should we be asking for more archaeological studies to be carried out?

Charlotte:  The evidence of archaeology in the Moss has hardly been touched by specialist archaeologists.  Part of the problem is that, as a subject, archaeology was still in the early stages of development in universities, such as the University of Manchester, which was in the process of being formed as the Moss was being developed.  Modern archaeological work is a relatively new science and has recently developed fantastic resources with the growth of technology in geophysics, lidar and ground-penetrating radar.  There had been a strong, long-established antiquarian tradition in the region with fascinating results which, however, did not include the Moss.  Though The Manchester Guardian carried numerous naturalist studies mentioning the Moss in the nineteenth century, no one mentioned the archaeology.  Archaeological interest in peat bogs, however, had grown from the mid-eighteenth century when a peat bog body was found in Lincolnshire.  Since then increasing numbers of such bodies have been found across the world.  The most famous local examples, of course, are Lindow Man from Lindow Moss, near Wilmslow (1984 / British Museum), and Worsley Man (1953), on a Salford Peat Bog.  Leather shoes have been found at Chat Moss, but, sadly, whatever is buried underneath Carrington has suffered the fate of the surface of the Moss in large sections where industrial and other waste has dominated the environment.

The Moss, however, is much, much more than the industrialised quadrant and has hardly been excavated.  Much will have been destroyed and usually an archaeological dig only happens when there is good evidence of a specific archaeological/historical reason or if, as happens with planning regulations, a survey is conducted.  Funding is always an issue but some of these commercial studies are not detailed and they look mainly for expected agrarian use in field contours.  In the case of Carrington Moss, they do not consider (perhaps do not even know) that this was a hive of activity in the Middle Ages focused upon Caryngton Hall, Carrington Lane, the equestrian tradition for which it was known in the Middle Ages, and the widely travelled experiences of the Caryngton family, not simply abroad to Normandy, Aquitaine and Navarre, but also within the British Isles during the wars with Wales and Scotland, and in tending their estates further afield in the Longdendale Valley, the Forest of Wyrehale (Wirral) and Marcher lands.  I believe the site of Carrington Hall, and parts of the area where the old mill existed along the Lanewould be useful points with which to begin.  That whole section north of Carrington Lane was a key transport route in the Middle Ages and, of course, it was connected to other routes by the River Mersey.  Two dug-out canoes (c.AD/CE 1030-1245 radio-carbon dating) were discovered along local river banks when the ditch for the Ship Canal was excavated.

FOCM. So, it would be exciting to carry out a new archaeological study.  Perhaps we can persuade our friends at South Trafford Archaeological Group (STAG) to start the ball rolling!

Residents and local experts deliver added value in Master Plan workshops

As we mentioned in our previous blog, the Friends of Carrington Moss recently arranged two workshops to provide input to the local Master Plan. 

We’d like to take this opportunity to provide some feedback on the outputs from these workshops.  We’ll give you some information about next steps and we’d love to have your thoughts about some of the key issues, because, of course, the

OUTCOMES

(ie what happens in response to the workshops) are, most importantly, why we spent so much time planning, preparing and hosting these sessions.

The Coronavirus has impacted timescales, so please bear with us and our partners over the coming months as some of the planned activities will not be completed within the same timescales now.

The first deliverable from each workshop was a set of key design principles which were discussed and agreed within the participant groups.  We also received further feedback after the workshops.  The graphic below represents the final output, which has been updated for all comments and responses received.

The core principle for each of the two topics is shown at the centre of the graphics.  We believe these core principles are the overarching imperatives in the Master Planning process for these two themes.  Some suggestions were also made about additional principles, which need further discussion.

The workshops also discussed the key assets we have on the Moss.  This activity was structured in a slightly different way in the two workshops.

In the Ecology and Biodiversity Workshop:

We looked at the quantitative values of the ecology and biodiversity on the Moss and how they can be measured.  Quantitative values can typically be measured numerically in some way, such as by size of the area, the number of creatures supported by that feature, or by using a pre-determined metric established by experts.

To facilitate this discussion, Trafford Wildlife shared their assessment of the wide variety of existing habitats on Carrington Moss and a representative from the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit (GMEU) presented information about the sites of biological importance and the presence of endangered species on Carrington Moss.

The break-out groups then considered the qualitative values, discussing their views about the most important ecological assets on Carrington Moss.  Qualitative values are things that would not necessarily be counted numerically, they can be perceptions and feelings, not just tangible measurements and typically relate to the quality of a feature.

The results of this activity are shown in the graphic below:

As you can see, there was a lot of consistency in the discussions that took place in each break-out group, so it is important that these values are considered in the design and development of the updated Master Plan.

In the Interconnected Traffic-Free Routes across Carrington Moss

We categorised the various routes across Carrington Moss that are used today and also identified potential future traffic-free routes that will be important to consider in the Master Planning process.

Again, there was a lot of consistency between the groups, including in their assessment of potential future routes.  Connectivity with the wider network of walking and cycling routes is considered to be very important.  There was a lot of discussion about the dismantled railway line and it is important to take the number of horse riders using the Moss on a day to day basis into account.  Our friends in the horse riding community tell us that there are over 1,000 horses stabled in the area, no wonder we see someone on horseback almost every time we go onto the Moss.

Finally, the third activity was to identify the key next steps to help progress the Master Plan and ensure community engagement continues as a key part of the discussions.  These have been consolidated because there was so much overlap between the break-out groups and lots of actions were suggested.

Let’s look first at the Quick Wins, these are things we can do in the short term (in the next three to six months), without too much difficulty.  We are already working with our partners to deliver these:

ActionCommentary
Plant wildflower meadows (next to the footpaths, ditches, solar farm, hedgerows)We have already discussed this with HIMOR and hope to sow seed over the coming months
Plant bulbs/understorey in the woodlandsAgain, we are actively planning this with HIMOR
Create a programme of work for schools (including, if possible, on-line resources), arrange school/resident visits onto the MossTwo school visits already arranged, with more to follow, we are also planning some community walks over the coming months
Introduce more way markers and signage to help those using the MossAgain, HIMOR are actively supporting this initiative
Do litter picks on and near the footpathsWe held our first litter pick in February and will be doing more over the coming months
Involve representatives from all communities in discussions about the Master Plan for the area, invite those representatives to the existing forums which are part of the Master Plan processWhilst we feel this must be a quick win, community engagement on Master Planning is not yet in place, but we hope to bring more information on this over the coming weeks.

The workshops also identified things that would take a bit more discussion but we believe can be achieved in the medium term (in the next six to nine months) and also some more challenging actions which may start over the coming weeks but will take much longer to complete (possibly up to a year or longer):

We’d also like to have your inputs into the next steps and with that in mind, we have created a very short survey, which should take less than 5 minutes to complete.  We are keen to secure inputs from as many in the community as possible, so please encourage your family, friends and neighbours to respond too. Click on the button below to access the survey.

We are now planning our next workshops, the first of which will consider the plans for the Strategic Road Network to be constructed across the Moss, these currently include the Carrington Relief Road, the Sale West Link Road, the Birch Road Link and the Southern Link Road.  We will be seeking to identify quick wins, route options and alternatives to the reduce the need for so much new tarmac!  A further workshop will look Risks and Issues (for example, Air Pollution, Noise Pollution, other impacts of high volume HGV traffic and potential COMAH site topics). More information will follow on these workshops over the coming weeks.  They may, of course, need to be on-line sessions, due to the Coronavirus.

Inputting to the development of the Master Plan for our area

Trafford is developing a Master Plan for “Future

Carrington” and we are working with Trafford Council’s

Strategic Planning Team to ensure community

representatives are able to input into the design of that

                           Master Plan. 

This is important, because if lots of money is spent developing a plan, it is much harder to effect change in later phases of the process.

With this in mind, the Friends of Carrington Moss recently arranged two workshops to provide input to the local Master Plan. 

The first workshop focused on the Ecology and Biodiversity on Carrington Moss, and the second covered Interconnected Traffic-Free Routes across Carrington Moss.  Participants included landowners, developers, Trafford Council, specialists from local regional and national groups (see the graphic below for a full list), school pupils and representatives from local community groups.

Why is the Master Plan important?

The Master Plan will shape the future of our local landscape.  It will act as a framework for upcoming planning applications and will be a supporting document in the final iteration of the GMSF which is due to be published later this year.  The community are extremely important in this process.  The other people who are involved may not live in the area and may not know its existing features and unique characteristics as local residents do.

In line with their Statement of Community Involvement (available at this link Trafford’s Statement of Community Involvement), Trafford will be seeking to consult and engage with residents and other interested parties throughout all phases of the Master Planning process. 

Trafford Council’s planning officers have confirmed that the new version of the Master Plan for the area will use the HIMOR Master Plan, which is available at this link HIMOR Master Plan March 2019, as its starting point.

As it is a strategic document, the Master Plan will aim to show what the vision, ie the long-term proposition, for the area looks like.  It will include some analysis of the existing site, highlighting the constraints and the opportunities which may arise during the plan period. 

The work of the Friends group will provide some useful baseline information which can be included in the inputs to the Master Plan, including, for example, our monitoring of air quality on and around Carrington Moss.

In addition, the outputs from our recent workshops definitively demonstrate that local residents and specialists can add real value to the Master Planning process.  The design principles for each theme (Ecology/Biodiversity and Interconnected Traffic-Free Routes) were discussed and updated during the workshops and attendees have had the opportunity to comment further during the review of the workshop outputs. 

We are now working with workshop participants to consider the next step actions, particularly focusing initially on the quick wins, which could include, for example, route signage and wildflower planting.

Whilst these workshops aimed to support Master Planning for our own area, this is a great framework which can be adopted by others and is a huge opportunity to enable local communities to be involved in the design phase of the Master Plan.  We are creating a toolkit which can be shared with other groups and we believe this will help change the perception that residents can add little value to the planning process.

What is Consultation?

How is it different to Information Sharing?

Just labelling an activity “consultation” is not enough.  It is important that all those involved in the planning ecosystem recognise the difference between real and robust consultation and simple information sharing (however complex the data being shared happens to be). 

Consultation involves taking account of, as well as

listening to, the views of those citizens being

consulted and must, therefore, take place before

any decisions are made.  

If this is not the case, then the activity is merely information sharing
In other words –
a tick box exercise.

We, the citizen, should be clear, that consultation does not mean that our views always have to be acted upon.  There may be good practical or financial reasons for not doing so.  When a citizen’s views are rejected though, the justification for doing so should be fully explained.

Making a pretence of consultation is unproductive, engenders suspicion and increases mistrust.  True consultation will enable the citizen to contribute to scheme designs, will stimulate debate and encourage “buy-in” to the proposals.

Real, robust consultation should, firstly, consider whether there is a need for what is being planned and then, secondly, consider how those needs are to be addressed.  It would also helpful to inform people about how the decision-making process works.

So, looking at the “committed” road across Carrington Moss – we should, firstly, have been consulted about whether a new road is actually needed.  IF it is agreed that a new road IS needed, we should then be consulted about the design and placement of that road.  Alternatively, if it is agreed that improved public transport would address the existing traffic challenges (and we could get a lot of public transport for the £33 million estimate that the new road is going to cost), we should be consulted about the public transport needs for the area. 

Designing the new road will, like the overall Trafford Masterplan for the area, cost lots of money, so how likely is it that the design will be changed as a result of any “consultation” to be carried out?  It is, therefore, imperative that citizens are fully involved in that design process!

All roads are extremely busy during rush hour but we cannot duplicate them all just to satisfy the needs of one type of road user – the driver!  If more focus was given to other users and public transport/traffic free routes were given a higher priority, we (and our children/grandchildren) would all be a lot healthier.

Remember, if a new road is built, it is likely to be full of traffic from outside the borough before a single new house is built.  So, if the traffic chaos during rush hour continues either before, during or after the new houses have been built, what is the answer? 

Someone is bound to suggest yet another highly polluting new road, rather than the public transport improvements we so desperately need!

With this in mind, please don’t forget that we have a petition against the new roads across Carrington Moss.  If you live in Trafford and haven’t signed it yet, and are unable to print your own copy, get in touch.  If you can print out the petition and get signatures from your family, friends and neighbours, we’d be delighted. 

You can find a copy of the petition and more information here: https://friendsofcarringtonmoss.com/2019/05/04/petition-against-roads-across-through-carrington-moss/.

GMSF Delay- Maybe it means Consultation?!

Many of you will already be aware that the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) has been delayed again. 

Find out more about the GMSF here https://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/what-we-do/housing/greater-manchester-spatial-framework/

The GMSF is the strategy for the region which incorporates Trafford’s plans for the future of Carrington Moss. 

A number of perceptions have been circulated about the delay, one of which is that the Government will not approve the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s (GMCA) request to allow the release green belt as part of the approach they are taking.  Not quite correct. 

For clarity, there are two ways in which the regional strategy can be presented:

  • as a Joint Development Plan (JDP), which is what has been produced to date
  • as a Spatial Development Strategy (SDS), which is the preferred future approach of the GMCA

Under the current regulations, an SDS CAN remove land from the Green Belt, but ONLY local/neighbourhood plans can redefine the Green Belt boundary.  This is the issue that is still being discussed with the Government.

So, what are the next steps for the GMSF? 

Information in the papers supporting the GMCA meeting on 27th September suggest the following:

Over 17,500 individuals and organisations responded to the GMSF consultation in January 2019 and more than 67,000 comments were made.  These have been analysed and a Consultation Summary report will be published over the coming days.  We will provide links to this in a future newsletter.

In summary, the specific New Carrington question received 523 responses and New Carrington Allocation questions received 738 responses (note that the Timperley Wedge Allocation questions received 942 responses).  These low numbers reflect the very poor communication about the plan.  In Trafford we received a glossy leaflet to every home about the marathon, which is a one-day event.  We received nothing which set out the huge human and wildlife impact of these plans!

The key issues that arose in the comments will inform the further evidence work that needs to be undertaken and, also, the GMCA’s engagement strategy over the coming months.  A Consultation Final Report will be produced with the next Draft GMSF, which will outline how these issues have been considered and how the plan has been changed as a result of comments made, or why some comments have not resulted in changes.  It is not intended to respond in detail to every comment made.

It is recommended, by the GMCA, that, in order to allow time for Government to amend the SDS regulations (mentioned above), engage more fully with residents and other interested parties, and undertake a 12 week consultation, the timetable would look as follows:

Programme of engagement around evidence
(for example transport, affordable housing, viability)
October 2019 – March 2020
Town Centre/Urban Living/Affordable Housing campaigns October 2019 – January 2020  
District approvals June/July 2020
GMCA approval July 2020
Public Participation (12 weeks) July 2020
Submission Dec 2020/Jan 2021
Examination May – October 2021
Publication (adoption) December 2021

The full report is available at this link https://democracy.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/documents/b7839/GMCA%20SUPPLEMENTARY%20AGENDA%2027th-Sep-2019%2010.00%20Greater%20Manchester%20Combined%20Authority.pdf?T=9 (agenda item 20).

For a region which purports to want to minimise the release of green belt, the work of the Save Greater Manchester Green Belts group has revealed that

NO Release of Green Belt would be required

anywhere in Greater Manchester, if:

  • the latest household projections (2016) were used in the Government’s standard methodology (these have been produced by the statistical experts, the Office for National Statistics – ONS), rather than the 2014 projections which the Government currently requires Authorities to use (these were produced by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government MHCLG);

or

  • the GMSF included projections (as allowed by the National Planning Policy Framework – NPPF) for large and medium sized windfall sites;

or

  • a 15 year plan was submitted (as allowed by the NPPF) rather than the current 19 year plan.

In addition, local and regional politicians could accept the MHCLG statement that the methodology for calculating the number of homes to be built in an area is a starting point, NOT a target!  In Trafford that would mean we could look at the housing actually NEEDED here and prioritise building homes which address our local housing crisis. 

There is NO housing crisis anywhere in the region for

people who can afford to buy their home.

So, it is important to recognise that the release of green belt is totally in the hands of our local and regional politicians

Remember, Trafford currently has the lowest proportion of green belt land in the whole of Greater Manchester, except for the city areas of Manchester and Salford.
Remember also that most of the other GM Authorities benefited from a more than 50% reduction in green belt loss when the 2019 version of the GMSF was produced (this means that the green belt loss set out in the 2016 iteration of the GMSF was reduced by over 50% on average across GM – Tameside, for example, reduced their loss of green belt by over 80% between the two iterations of the strategy – fantastic news for their residents). 

For Trafford overall, our reduction in green belt loss

was only 22% and for Carrington Moss it was a very

poor 20%!

So basically, Trafford continues to take a heavier hit than almost all the other Local Authorities in the region in terms of loss of green belt in the current plan! 

Please ask your local politicians (Councillors and MPs) their views.  Why would they accept and allow this imbalanced and disproportionate outcome for Trafford residents??? 

This latest delay brings a great opportunity to increase the level of consultation about the plans and engage with a much broader range of citizens in our communities, including those who are not typically accessing information online.  We hope Trafford Council fully exploits this over the coming months to ensure all residents fully understand the impact of these plans. 

Honesty and openness are essential, especially in

terms of the loss of health and wellbeing assets, the

reduction in air quality and the increase in noise

pollution that will be experienced by existing

residents who are impacted by these plans.

Sale FC Rugby – part of the local community

In preparation for the first match of the season, we recently met with Dave Hulme, General Manager, Sale FC Rugby and asked him for a bit of background about the club and the impact of the plans for Carrington Moss on its future……………….

(click here to go to the Sale FC Rugby website)

Tell us a little about the history of Sale FC and how the club is doing.

Founded by a team of enthusiastic sportsmen, drawn mainly from Sale Cricket Club, Sale Football Club was founded in 1861, is the fifth oldest surviving rugby club and the most prominent in the history of the North West (and no, that’s not just us being biased).  

Over the years, our players have become renowned for their mobility and powers of endurance, which when allied with their bountiful enthusiasm render Sale FC invincible.  In the very early days of the Club, rules were usually deemed unnecessary and those that were enforced were often made up on the spot.  As the game began to evolve, the need for specified regulations became apparent and, in 1865, the Minute Book was created stipulating the ten rules to be followed by all players.  In fact, this is now the world’s oldest existing rugby rule book and a much-treasured possession here at the Clubhouse.

Mention Sale FC to anyone and the first words that usually spring to their mind are ‘Heywood Road’ but this has not always been our home.  Back in the day, games were played on either a rented portion of Sale Cricket Club or on fields owned by local farmers.  Although we didn’t have a home to call our own, this setup did mean that we became a very real part of the community and a strong bond was formed with local people, something we have continued to build upon over the years.  At Sale FC there’s nothing we enjoy more (no, not even scoring that winning try in a cup match) than seeing young, local talent blossom in front of our very eyes.

Success on the pitch meant that better facilities were demanded and in 1905 we bought a field at the end of Heywood Road.  Better training grounds and social facilities, coupled with the formidable force of the 1910/11 squad took us to an unprecedented P26, W24, D2, not bad for our 50th year even if we do say so ourselves!

Hannah Birch scores her first try
Hannah Birch scores her first try

Over the years, Sale FC have featured many prominent international and County players.  Pat Davies became our first England international in 1927 and the ‘Roaring Thirties’ brought about an international backline; Hal Sever (England wing), Claude Davey and Wilf Wooller (Wales centres) and Ken Fyfe (Scotland wing). Fran Cotton, Steve Smith, Dewi Morris, Richard Trickey and Jason Robinson.

In 1936, we were invited to take part in the Middlesex Sevens Cup and through pure skill and determination we came away as victors.  Suddenly people in the South were forced to recognise the North West, not just as a Rugby League area, but as a formidable source of Union players too.

Prior to World War II, an increase in membership meant that the Club had almost outgrown facilities at Heywood Road and so an additional site on Woodbourne Road was purchased.  Initially this was meant to be a training ground for the junior team but there were talks to eventually relocate the rest of the Club there too.  Jim Birtles kept the spirit of Sale FC alive during the war (and for the next thirty years after that!) but when war was over the desire to develop Woodbourne Road had disappeared and it was instead decided to focus efforts on the redevelopment of Heywood Road.  Land was sold to fund the project and the ground gradually began to evolve into the home we now cherish and love so much.  A new clubhouse was built, the old bath house was replaced by squash courts, changing facilities were improved, floodlights installed and the commemorative ‘Jim Birtles Stand’ replaced the old bike shed.

Jeremy Toa looks the wrong way for support
Jeremy Toa looks the wrong way for support

The success and growth of Sale FC in recent years has enabled us to invest even further into our facilities, purchasing land at Carrington for training purposes.  This site is now regarded as a ‘Centre of Excellence’ and is used not only by us but by our professional friends over at Sale Sharks and even a number of international clubs too.

2011 marked the 150th birthday of Sale FC, we are proud of what we have achieved so far and look forward to the challenges and successes the next 150 years will bring.

On the field, the first team have had a successful period in recent times rising from level ten to level three since Sale Sharks left Heywood Road for Edgeley Park in 2003.  Having gained promotion to National One at the start of last season, we are looking to consolidate further and to gain another promotion to the Championship as soon as possible.

Off the field, our top quality facilities are important for our development and growth as a rugby club but also as a part of our local community.  It is the enthusiasm and dedication of the people at Sale FC that really make us such a great club.  From players to our Executive committee, members, supporters to groundsmen, everyone has an important role to play.

What made Sale FC choose Carrington for their training ground?

In the early part of the 21st Century the area off Carrington Lane was being developed into top quality sports training facilities by the two Manchester Football Clubs.  It, therefore, made total sense to relocate our training facilities from Woodborne Road to Carrington as well.

Meg Buckley breaks the Manchester line to score
Meg Buckley breaks the Manchester line to score

Have you been happy here?  

Yes, our training grounds offer a great environment for our players, giving them access to premiership quality floodlit pitches and other facilities to support their development.  This is a key factor in helping us get to the top of our game and to stay there. 

One of the benefits of the Carrington location is the wide-open countryside around our site.  It is a safe, clean setting, which provides fresh air and a peaceful atmosphere for players when they are training.  With easy access from surrounding areas, we are able to coach multiple teams, simultaneously, without impacting the local community.

You gave us permission to put up an air quality monitoring tube on your site, how will the planned new road impact your athletes?

The proposed developments in this area will have a massive and detrimental impact for both our professional sportsmen and our young players, some of whom are only five years of age. 

The outcome of exposure to air pollution is now well researched and scientists recognise that it not only reduces athletic performance, it can also put the health of our sportsmen at a higher level of risk.  During training, for example, athletes typically take in as much as 20 times more air than a person at rest, so this means that they would be exposed to 20 times more pollutants as well. 

While the effect of air pollution on athletic performance is a concern, the impact of air pollution on the short- and long-term health of athletes is an even greater worry.  With this in mind, we are keen to support the Friends of Carrington Moss in their campaign preserve and restore Carrington Moss, rather than building roads and housing alongside the training grounds.  

Do you have any other concerns about the plans for development?

There has been very little communication and discussion about the plans, which will, as I have already mentioned, have a massive and detrimental impact on the club.  The initial plans published show that a roundabout, to facilitate the new road, will be constructed right on the end of our land and may even encroach on it.  This would mean the loss of one of our pitches which would reduce our ability to provide facilities to as many people as we currently do.  Even if the planned road is alongside our pitches, rather than on our land itself, given the expected impact to the health and well-being of our players, we feel strongly that this should have been discussed with us BEFORE these plans were published.

So, in summary, the proposed Carrington developments would impact the club’s ability to grow further and will hamper the positive contribution we look to make to the well-being of the people in the local area.

So, what does the future hold for Sale FC?

We are aiming for the top.  We have a very strong team, with some new signings for the new season.  The club are looking to grow and develop for the benefit of our members, our players and for our local community as a whole.  The Carrington site is vital for that growth, as this is where our circa 250 young players learn all about rugby and the individual benefits the sport brings.  

Matt Bradley stops Curtis Wilson
Matt Bradley stops Curtis Wilson

Carrington Moss – A Site of Biological Importance

We are really looking forward to the presentation from David Reeves, Reserves Management Coordinator for Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s Northern Group at our AGM on 17th August. 
We hope you will come along.  David will be talking about the Sites of Biological Importance (SBI) on Carrington Moss, which have long been recognised by Trafford as crucial for their ecological value. 

In fact, a very forward-thinking Trafford Council documented the Wetlands at Carrington Moss as an SBI in their Unitary Development Plan (UDP) of 2006 and recognised the importance of “The protection and enhancement of the moss land as a carbon sink to mitigate the effects of climate change” back in the Core Strategy of 2012, before other Authorities were even talking about climate change! 

In that Core Strategy, the Authority identified “The protection and enhancement of the sites of nature conservation and biological importance, including the Carrington Rides” as a condition which MUST be satisfied in order for development to take place in the area. 

In Trafford’s Landscape Strategy of 2004 the document noted that “The Council has completed a Landscape Assessment of the Borough’s open land and has identified seven different landscape types that it wishes to seek to preserve and enhance”.  One of those Landscape Types was the Mossland at Carrington Moss.  This document also mentions that the Mossland “forms perhaps the oldest remaining landscape feature in the Borough.  It is invaluable archaeological evidence on how the landscape and climate has changed over the centuries”.  

The Landscape Strategy talks about the “unique” characteristics of Carrington Moss and the mossland ditches are described as “important areas of ecological value”.  It states that any development in the area should conserve and enhance the structure of the Carrington Rides.  Again, way in advance of current thinking, Trafford suggested the establishment of traditional wildflowers next to ditches and fields.  One of the key proposals in the Landscape Strategy was the conservation and enhancement of the open aspect and views which were considered to be “important characteristics of the area”.

The UDP of 2006 included the Carrington Rides in the list of features the Council would seek to “retain, protect and wherever possible, enhance”.  They are described as a Local Nature Conservation Site.  That document also identified the Carrington Tree Belts as one of the areas in which the Council would seek to “consolidate and strengthen the effectiveness of the wildlife corridors”.  The UDP states that “Local Nature Conservation Sites were identified by Trafford Borough Council as a result of a habitat survey carried out by the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit, to a nationally approved method and updated by local knowledge”.

Testament indeed to the level of importance

Trafford has placed on Carrington Moss in the

past!

Yet now, here we are, trying to persuade our local politicians that they should not put up to 10,000 houses and several roads across it.  What has changed???

Well for a start, in 2012 Trafford estimated that Carrington could deliver 1,560 homes, now the GMSF plans to eradicate the carbon capturing peat moss and build a minimum of 6,100 homes (and up to 10,000) on it.  This level of increase is not only illogical, it is unsustainable.  It conflicts with the strategic aims of the GMSF, the Trafford declaration of a climate emergency, the GM 5 year Environment Plan, and a number of other policies and strategies. 

Clearly, for some of our politicians, the protection and enhancement of the sites of biological importance, including the Carrington Wetlands, a grade A SBI, is no longer considered as important today as it was just a few years ago!  

For local residents, however, the importance of this wonderful green space has increased due to recognition of the potential affect of climate change and the health impact of air pollution.

This breeding and feeding ground for more than 20 red listed (globally threatened) birds and a number of endangered wildlife species, will instead be largely built on (roads and houses)

Who will benefit ………..?

Trafford Residents?

We are not anti-house-building, and we do recognise there is a housing crisis, so are these plans focused on those who are in dire need of housing?

Are there development obligations that ensure the people of Trafford who need homes are considered first?

How expensive will the new houses be? How will Trafford ensure the required minimum 30% affordable homes will definitely be built? 

Are there development obligations that prevent the new homes being sold (often off plan) to foreign investors?

And something topical for this week, Carrington Moss is a flood plain, what will happen to all that water – will we end up with floods in new or existing homes?

The planned new road(s) will create significant levels of additional air pollution in the area, affecting the health and wellbeing of residents, users of the sports facilities and users of the Transpennine Trail. 

Currently residents are able to use this free local amenity for walking, cycling, horseriding, nature spotting and bird watching.  Oh yes, the GMSF suggests a green corridor is planned, but most of it appears to be on land that residents cannot routinely use.  The sports fields of Manchester United and Sale RFC, for example, some of which are actually synthetic.  To be clear, we are not criticising the sports clubs for this, but we do not believe the Authority should be classifying artificial grass as a “green corridor”! How does decimating this fantastic local amenity benefit residents?

The Environment?

Did you know Trafford declared a climate emergency back in November 2018?  Well, the plans are to build housing and roads on a peat moss which has been capturing carbon for thousands of years, so we will actually be releasing hundreds of thousands of megatonnes of carbon into the atmosphere!  Does that sound like it meets the requirements of a declaration of a climate emergency?!

The current A6144 road is busy during rush hour, not at other times of the day, so why do we need a new road as a priority?  Is there a commitment to more public transport for this area? Not in the strategy documents that have been published so far.  Absolutely no commitments to anything but the Relief Road!

And the new road(s) across Carrington Moss (the GMSF indicated more than one road) will be a great additional shortcut for people from outside the borough.  Given the amount of additional traffic (and no public transport improvements, no park and rides, no trams) – will it resolve or exacerbate congestion issues!  The recently built A555 (Airport Relief Road) is an example from elsewhere in the region, but, of course, that has been closed due to flooding ………..

With all that industrial and warehousing space in New Carrington (between 410,000 and 900,000 square metres), the anticipated 400 – 600 lorries per day (24×7) will bring even more traffic and pollution to the area.

Some of the terrain is Grade 2 agricultural land – which means it is perfect for growing the crops we need to eat (I won’t mention the “B” word, but this may become particularly important after we leave), locally sourced and sold, reducing our carbon footprint – but no – the fields will be built on!

The Wildlife & Birds?

And what about those endangered creatures, whose habitat is this SBI, will they benefit from these decisions?  Sadly, many will undoubtedly die because their habitat has been fractured or eliminated.  Some may have already been moved several times because of the development programmes in the area.  Some ecologists involved in planning applications appear not to have the interests of wildlife and birds at the heart of their aims and objectives.  In one recent planning application, an ecologist’s report appeared to suggest that red listed birds can just relocate to nearby fields when their homes are destroyed.  Experts will know that the birds need to fight for their territory, fight to protect their young and fight to secure sufficient food to feed themselves and their families.  So, it is not just a case of “Open arable fields in the wider area” providing “suitable habitat” for the displaced red listed birds whose feeding, roosting and nesting habitats are expected to be destroyed!

These endangered wildlife and red listed birds are already struggling, here are just a few examples of the challenges some of the creatures you will find on Carrington Moss are facing (images courtesy of the web pages mentioned below):

the water vole – which has “undergone one of the most serious declines of any wild mammal in Britain during the 20th century” (https://ptes.org/get-informed/facts-figures/water-vole/) – between 1989 and 1998 “the population fell by almost 98%!”  Research led by the Wildlife Trusts indicates there has been a 30% decline in water vole populations since 2006, which represents an approximately 3% loss in populations per year.

the hedgehog – recent surveys have shown hedgehog numbers have “fallen by about 50% since the turn of the century” (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-42959766), with some researchers estimating the decline at higher levels (66% in the past 13 years https://www.bto.org/science/monitoring/hedgehogs.) “Conservation groups say they are particularly concerned about the plight of the prickly creatures in rural areas.”

bats – many bat species are vulnerable or endangered as a consequence of loss or fragmentation of their habitat, diminished food supply and destruction of their homes. According to https://www.bats.org.uk/bat populations have declined considerably over the last century. Bats are still under threat from building and development work that affects roosts, loss of habitat, the severing of commuting routes by roads“.  The brown long-eared bat which has declined by 31.3% since 1999 (a 2.2% decline per year).

the common toad – many of our once common amphibian species are in acute decline, including the common frog, common toad and natterjack toad.  Recent research has shown that common toad populations have declined across the UK by 68% over the past 30 years, which approximates to a 2.26 % decline per year.  The reasons for the decline in the common toad are similar to those affecting hedgehogs including habitat loss and fragmentation, pollution and climate change. https://www.froglife.org/2018/03/23/amphibian-and-reptile-declines-uk-perspective/

the skylark – the UK population halved during the 1990s and is still declining, in their preferred habitat (farmland) skylarks have declined by 75%.
https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/skylark/threats/#EmyeBdfkY6ixxPWH.99

the lapwing – between 1987 and 1998 lapwing numbers dropped by 49 per cent in England and Wales. Since 1960 the numbers dropped by 80 per cent https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/lapwing/population-trends/#WZizT2MxLgOTApod.99

All in all, a sad situation for our wildlife and birds. You can find more information on our website at this link: https://friendsofcarringtonmoss.com/endangered-species/

So who can possibly be benefiting from these ill-considered, disproportionate and totally unnecessary plans to release 240 hectares of green belt and develop on a peat moss??? 

Let us know what YOU think!

Concerned about Air Quality on and around Carrington Moss?

We are! 

Especially as the ONLY commitment in the GMSF and the GM Transport Strategy 2040 for this area is a new road.  A new town is being planned, yet no trams, no commitments to additional bus services (everything but the new road is subject to business cases and funding). 

Given the size of the industrial and warehousing area (planned to cover the remaining brownfield site in Carrington), we have estimated that the road will be used by between 400 and 600 lorries per day (24×7 – based on estimates from previous planning applications for this site).  Add to this the 20,000 plus cars which will be needed by those living in the new homes to be built (because there will be insufficient public transport) and the induced through traffic……..

… the impact on our air quality will be phenomenal!!!

As there is no monitoring of the air pollution in this area by Trafford, despite its proximity to the M60 and the airport flight path, the Friends of Carrington Moss Committee began our own monitoring on 1st June, to provide baseline figures before any new road(s) or housing developments are built.  This will increase our knowledge of the environmental impacts effecting the area and we took the opportunity to catch up with local subject matter experts, Peter Bagnall of the Breathe Clean Air group and Sue Huyton of the Clean Air Parents group.  Here is what they told us.

Talking to the experts

FOCM: Hey Peter, which air pollutants should we be measuring?

Peter: Well there are a number we could measure in addition to the Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) that you have started to monitor.  I’d be happy to come along and measure very small Particulate Matter (PM2.5), the Air Quality Index (AQI) and Carbon Monoxide (CO2) on a regular basis.  That will help you to build up a picture of the current baseline in terms of Air Quality in the area.

FOCM:  So, we have started to monitor Nitrogen Dioxide, what is it and what does it do?

Peter: NO2 is part of a group of gaseous air pollutants emitted by road traffic and other fossil fuel combustion processes.  In the air it contributes to the formation of other pollutants such as Ozone, Particulate Matter and Acid Rain and it damages your health by causing reduced life expectancy, chronic respiratory issues and cardiovascular problems.  It has also been linked with depression, anxiety, autism, dementia, cancer and birth defects, to name just a few other conditions.

FOCM:  Are the other pollutants just as dangerous?

Peter:    Particulate Matter in the air with a diameter of 2.5 micrograms or less (PM2.5) is considered to be the most hazardous pollutant to human health.  It is also emitted from diesel engines and the combustion processes.  It is carcinogenic and can be absorbed into the bloodstream by the lungs.  TMBC do not monitor PM2.5 anywhere in Trafford and the nearest site that does is the DEFRA automatic site in Eccles (https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/data-plot?site_id=ECCL&days=7).

FOCM:  We put up our first diffusion tubes on 1st June to measure the NO2 in this area, tell us about the process.

Peter:   It can get a bit technical but in essence, the diffusion tube is a passive sampler which measures the pollutants in the air.  The results are provided by specialised laboratories who use Government regulated methods.  For those who are interested in more detail, it is a plastic tube containing a chemical reagent to absorb the pollutant to be measured directly from the air (they are also known as Palmes-type nitrogen dioxide diffusion tubes).  The absorbent used is triethanolamine (Tea Water).   Stainless steel grids at the closed end of the tube are coated with a water based solution of this absorbent.  Diffusion tubes are classed as an “indicative” monitoring technique and can carry as much as 25% uncertainty compared to the Automatic Ambient Monitoring apparatus which uses the Chemiluminescence method as employed by DEFRA and local Councils.  When we come to recording your results, we will take this bias into account in the reporting.

FOCM:  Are there any legal limits for gases like NO2?

Peter:   Yes, the legal limit for this is currently 40 ug/m3 (that means 40 micrograms per cubic metre).  It should be noted that, although 40 ug/m3 is the legal limit, NO2 is a poisonous gas and this is not the same as saying this is a safe level!  That said, the UK must meet this limit and there have been several successful legal proceedings (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-43141467).   In addition, ClientEarth has slammed ministers for letting deadlines pass unpunished, calling the situation a ‘moral failure’ from politicians at all levels.  Client Earth recently issued a warning to UK Local Authorities to finalise their air quality plans or face legal action (https://airqualitynews.com/2019/03/26/clientearth-warn-councils-to-finalise-air-quality-plans-or-face-legal-action/).

FOCM: Are there any current legal claims related to the health effects of Air Pollution?

Peter:  There have been many cases related to air pollution and the damage it causes to human health.  They have previously been about stopping incinerators and biomass plants being built.  There is currently a case in the London Inquest Courts relating to a young child named Ella Kissi-Debra who died as a result of an Asthma attack caused by regular exposure to air pollution. This is still on-going and, due to more information becoming available, the courts have awarded a new inquest  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-48132490
Other countries are also facing legal action as a consequence of the impact of air pollution on their residents’ health  https://www.france24.com/en/20190528-mother-daughter-sue-france-over-ill-health-air-pollution
.

FOCM: And Sue, tell us about the Clean Air Parents Network, it sounds like a fantastic initiative, what are your key activities?

Sue:     The Clean Air Parents’ Network was established just over a year ago to connect parents, carers, grandparents, who are concerned about how air quality impacts their children’s health now and in the future.  Poor air quality has a greater impact on children’s lungs.  They breathe faster and are more active, taking in proportionally more toxic air which can cause asthma and stunt lung development , contributing to the long term conditions that Peter refers to when they become adults.  We connect parents on a number of levels, within City regions (my main focus is Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham), this can be existing clean air parent groups, helping to set up new groups or linking individuals campaigning on their own!  We also connect people from across the country to each other, so there can be shared learning and support.  Ultimately though, we want to get parents involved in campaigning to clean up the dirty air.  This can be locally, regional or nationally.  We focus on getting the dirtiest vehicles of the most polluted roads primarily and that’s why my work focuses on areas that have been mandated by the Government in their drive to introduce Clean Air Zones. 

FOCM:  It would be great to work with both yourself and Peter going forward – there is lots to do isn’t there?

Sue:      There certainly is.  Where I think the way we can work together is for me to promote your campaign to our local members, provide some information and expertise around air quality.  We can also provide links to other organisations that could do more locally based work and bring in the wider British Lung Foundation (BLF) and Client Earth (CE) knowledge base and connections. The Clean Air Parents’ Network is a partnership between BLF and CE, so we are close to the national policy makers and influencers.

FOCM:  It is all very topical at the moment, are you managing to influence decisions at a national level?

Sue:      Our influence can be local, regional and/or national.  We want to have a huge number of parents to demand that Government complies with the law on air quality and adequately funds local authorities to implement robust enough measures to do this.

FOCM:  Fantastic, what’s next?

Sue:      Well, here are the details of some events we are running in Trafford in June:
Come and join members of the Clean Air Parents’ Network from Trafford for a free screening of the film “Fighting for Air”, followed by a Q&A session with panellists from health and the environment, including:
– Eleanor Roaf, Acting Director of Public Health, Trafford Council
– Dr Patrick Carrington, Consultant Haematologist, Trafford General Hospital, University of Manchester Hospital Trust.
– Transport for Greater Manchester (tbc)
– Chair, Sue Huyton British Lung Foundation and Clean Air Parents’ Network
Learn more about air quality in Trafford, how it impacts your children’s health, and what we can do locally and nationally for clean air for our children to breathe with healthy lungs.

o   Altrincham Event (18th June): https://altrinchamcleanairparentsnetwork.eventbrite.co.uk

o   Wellacre Event (27th June):    https://m41cleanairparentsnetwork.eventbrite.co.uk


FOCM:  Where can people get more information?

Sue:       Have a look at our website and sign up to our network for regular updates and opportunities (www.cleanairparents.org.uk).  We are also on facebook @Clean Air Parents’ Network.

Well it was fascinating to talk to Sue and Peter, they both have so much expertise and knowledge that we know will be useful as we move forward.  In the meantime, we’ve been doing a little research of our own and we think the Human Rights Act needs to be updated to be more specific.  We’ll be campaigning on this in the coming months.

Article 2 of the Human Rights Act 1998 is the Right to Life and this already requires public authorities to consider your right to life when making decisions that might put you in danger or that affect your life expectancy”.  So, based on the evidence now available which shows the impact on human life expectancy from air pollution, it can be concluded that constructing new roads across Carrington Moss will impact the Human Rights of those whose health (and life expectancy) will be affected! 

We call on Trafford to revisit this plan!

Want more information?  Visit the following websites:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-matters-air-pollution/health-matters-air-pollution
https://cleanairgm.com/
https://www.trafford.gov.uk/residents/environment/pollution/air-quality/air-quality.aspx – for information, local authorities are required submit a single Annual Status Report relating to air quality each year (by 30 June).

For our younger followers – why is Carrington Moss so important?

Much of Carrington Moss is still a wetland moss, which is full of peat.  Peat is made from layers of dead plant material.  We think the peat is very deep on Carrington Moss because it has been forming for thousands of years.  Peat ‘grows’ by only a millimetre a year. A 10 metre deep peat bed takes 9,000 years to form. Peat is spongy and moves a lot when you walk on it.

Peat mosses are very important for plants, wildlife and bird species.  On Carrington Moss we have over 20 red listed birds.  This means they are globally threatened and each year there are fewer of these birds than there were the year before.  There are also some endangered wildlife (like water-voles, which is one of the most endangered species on the Earth, it is under serious threat from habitat loss and predators).  The combination of wet and dry areas on Carrington Moss means that we get lots of different kinds of plants and insects compared to, say, a garden at someone’s house.

The great thing about peat is that it helps to capture the carbon in the atmosphere.  Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a gas which is created whenever people or animals breathe out.  It is also created when things are burnt.  CO2 is a greenhouse gas which helps to keep the heat in the atmosphere of our planet, which we need to live, but ……….. there is a problem!  Scientists think that there is now too much heat and too many greenhouse gases are now causing a rise in the temperature of the Earth’s surface.  They are calling this global warming and it is causing our climate to change. 

CO2 is created when people burn oil or coal, when they drive their cars and when they fly in planes.  Since the Industrial Revolution, which began around the 1750’s, people have changed the way things are made.  Instead of making things by hand, things began to be made by machines in factories and these factories also released lots of CO2 into the atmosphere.  Instead of using horses for transport, people now use cars and planes.

So more people on the Earth, more machines (including cars and planes), more factories means too much CO2!  We need to make changes!

Luckily plants use CO2 to make their food.  Trees and plants store CO2 in their bodies and in their roots.  So we need to plant more of these (not cut them down).  Areas like Carrington Moss are very, very important because they help to capture the carbon in the atmosphere and they keep it underground in the peat.  We should be restoring, preserving and retaining all the peat mosses to help ensure our planet does not get too warm for people to survive. 

This is why it is so important that we do not build houses or roads on Carrington Moss.  It is also, of course, an important green space for the wildlife, the birds and the local community, who walk, cycle or horse-ride on it.  People go there to do bird watching, nature spotting and, sometimes, just to chill out and feel better.

Echoing the eventual success following the Kinder Scout Mass Trespass of 24 April 1932?

We are sure everyone involved in Extinction Rebellion recognises that they are not the first to use the strength and energy of the public to achieve their goals against the powerful political and landowning elite.  We recently interviewed the Footpath Secretary of the Ramblers Trafford Group and she reminded us of the local hero involved in the Kinder Scout Mass Trespass.

FOCM: We didn’t realise there was such a local connection with the Trespass, tell us more!

June: Well Benny Rothman, who was one of the leaders, actually lived in Timperley, I think his house now has a blue plaque.  It was the efforts of those involved in the Mass Trespass that inspired the formation of the Ramblers Association.  Then as now, the countryside represented an escape from daily life, particularly for those who do not have access to green spaces.  Over the last sixty years the Ramblers have played a pivotal role helping secure the footpath network in England and Wales.  We protect the places people go walking and believe in protecting people’s ability to enjoy the intrinsic values of nature.

FOCM: We are lucky in Trafford to have Carrington Moss as a local place for walking, cycling and horseriding.  We don’t have to get in a car to find it, it is on our doorsteps.  Why is it important to you?

June: Trafford Ramblers organise led walks every week.  We have over 200 members of all ages and abilities and Carrington Moss has a number of very safe, and free, walking routes the public can use.  The big problem is that most of the land is privately owned, and, if the routes are not formally recorded public rights of way, the landowners could restrict access in the future.  Many people have been using these footpaths, not just for regular exercise but also as a way to soothe their emotional challenges, so they are an important asset, often better than a prescription!

FOCM: The existing routes are not all public rights of way are they?

June:  No, and the problem is that, if a landowner just allows the public to walk on a path, they can withdraw permission at a moment’s notice and the path can no longer be used by the public.  So we need as many of the footpaths to be formally recorded as public rights of way, as possible, rather than to keep the status quo with the permissive paths we have today.

FOCM: So what can we do – can our members help?

June: We are really keen to get the paths onto Trafford Council’s Definitive Map, this would mean the footpaths are protected in law and future generations would still be able to use them.  We’d like users of the existing footpaths to help us with our claims for public rights of way.  So if your members have been using the routes across Carrington Moss and have not yet completed a user evidence form, please ask them to email right.of.way.campaign@gmail.com.  We can make our claims on the grounds that the public has established a right of way by using these routes, on an uninterrupted basis, for over 20 years.  That does not mean that the people who have used these routes, or parts of them, must show they used them every day, nor that the same person has used the routes over the whole 20 years.  Regular use by a range of individuals to these overall routes, over the 20 year period, is sufficient.  So, partial use of the way, or occasional use only over a limited period of time will be helpful in supporting our claim. 

FOCM: Brilliant, we will remind them again about that.  I think I have seen your group maintaining the routes across Carrington Moss too?

June: Yes, Trafford Ramblers has an active Footpath Team who monitor and help maintain local footpaths and Rights of Way.  Some walk local footpaths and check that the paths meets the standards laid down by Trafford Council.  We also have small teams maintaining paths by cutting back obstructing vegetation, repairing natural surfaces and placing waymarks (yellow circles with black arrows) where needed.  We work out of doors, all year round and we are always looking for more volunteers for this, so if any of your members are interested, we would love to hear from them. 

FOCM: I think I saw the team on the Transpennine Trail, it is a key route across Carrington Moss.

June: Yes, it is an important part of our landscape.  I believe HIMOR, who own the land at the Carrington Moss part of the TPT, have said that they will renew the lease for the TPT, which is great news.  They have also said they will not object to our recent claim for a public right of way on Birch Road, which is another key route across Carrington Moss.

FOCM: Yes, in fact, HIMOR would be keen to have a workshop with us about the public rights of way across Carrington Moss, can you join us?

June: Try and keep me away, am looking forward to it!

If you want to know more about Trafford Ramblers, please check out their website at this link http://www.ramblers-trafford.co.uk/

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