A WILMSLOW man says his property has sunk two feet in the past six years. Joel Millet, who owns Newgate Kennels, is now worried it may be connected to the peat extraction taking place at near-by Lindow Moss.

He has now commissioned a hydrological report because ground around the kennels has sunk so much.

He believes measures should be in place to stop water draining from the 40-acre site at the adjacent Lindow Moss which is owned by Croghan Peat.

Mr Millet has the support of the Saltersley Common Preservation Society.

The society fears drainage of the historic Ice Age site, which is where the famous Lindow Man was discovered, could not only affect the kennels and surrounding properties, but also the protected water vole.

Mr Millet told the Guardian: “This is the very future of my business and it is at risk.

“Everybody who comes out to look at the situation says it should not be happening, but then absolutely nothing happens.”

The latest report by Ian Griffin, of ecus Environmental Consultants, which originally carried out an inspection in 2002, said remedial work carried out by Mr Millet since then, using pilings for foundations to many of his buildings, had stopped further subsidence.

However, the soil under the foundations continues to move away from the structure.

According to Mr Millet, the ground had dropped by up to 2ft in the past six years.

Measurements taken from the bottom of the kennel wall to the bottom of the nearest drainage ditch now showed the latter was more than 14ft lower.

In his report, Mr Griffin claims there is a seeming lack of monitoring of groundwater.

He also says a sluice gate and a settlement pond were required to have been built under the planning consent given by Cheshire County Council, which is now the responsibility of Cheshire East Council.

He further notes that Mr Millet requested details of monitoring from Cheshire East Council but no information has ever been provided.

Mr Griffin said it was therefore difficult to prove a causal link between peat extraction and reported peat drying to the subsidence at the kennel.

He added: “It is recommended that if this information exists it should be made available as a matter of priority, and that if for some reason the monitoring programme has not been implemented fully to date, this should be also undertaken as a matter of priority.”

The report recommends an investigation should be carried out to fully understand the de-watering of Lindow Moss and subsidence at the kennel.

Mr Griffin concludes: “The sluice gate and settlement pond required by the planning conditions should also be installed as a matter of priority.”

Mr Millet said: “I want an urgent meeting with the council and the owner about what they’re going to do,” he said.

A spokesman for Cheshire East Council said: “Cheshire East Council is sympathetic to any impact of the geological nature of this site on local residents and is constantly monitoring the situation in the light of the current application to restore the site. “This is a complex and long-standing matter relating to peat extraction and the issues raised pre-date Cheshire East Council.

“However, this Council is in contact with the Environment Agency and the operator regarding the fluctuation in water levels and any link to current operations.

“The Council is currently awaiting a response from the Environment Agency to the technical statement provided by the operator, who we understand has commissioned further hydrological assessments.

“We will continue to work with both the operator and statutory bodies to ensure all environmental issues are addressed in full, prior to any decision on the application to restore the site.

“The Ombudsman’s investigation into alleged maladministration in 2003 by the former Cheshire County Council, found that on the balance of probability, it was impossible to establish a causal link between any maladministration and the potential hydrological impacts, or incidents of subsidence in the surrounding area.”

Croghan Peat have not commented so far.

A RECENT survey carried out by Cheshire Wildlife Trust earlier this month raised concerns about water voles.

The study concluded that the “general wildlife value of this rare raised bog remnant has been largely destroyed by ongoing industrial peat mining”.

The report explained: “The ditch systems in which the water voles previously occurred have lost their value by being allowed to dry out, become over-shaded by growth of birch or willow on their banks, had their vegetation stripped out by drainage work, or been obliterated by peat extraction operations.

“There is no evidence of any work being undertaken to maintain the suitability of the site for water voles, except for a 70 metre ditch at the northern boundary of the reserve. Sugar Brook, which was the natural watercourse draining the moss, is now completely dry due to the reduction in the water level consequent upon the peat mining operations. The same is true for stream beds in woodland to the east of the site.

“Water voles disperse along waterways and, as there is now no waterway connecting the moss to surrounding areas, water voles on site would be an isolated population.”