THE Wilmslow Guardian is taking the unusual step today of demanding that Cheshire East Council explains what it plans to do about a 'trashed' area of Lindow Moss.

Last Wednesday, we put a series of questions to both Cheshire East Council and the Environment Agency asking why a series of 51 planning conditions which were imposed in 2003 on peat extraction firm Croghan Peat 12 years ago, have never been implemented. These included installing a settling pond to prevent water leaving the site and the fitting of a sluice gate.

While the EA responded, Cheshire East, for its part, failed to provide any adequate answers to detailed questions put to it by the Guardian.

Anyone who has been reading the Guardian in recent weeks has learnt, maybe not for the first time, that the Saltersley Common Preservation Society, has had concerns about a number of issues since permission to extract peat was given 12 years ago.

The site is where the remains of second century BC, Lindow Man, was found in August 1984. His remains which are historically important are held at The British Museum.

From material seen by the Guardian, we can confirm that Tony Evans, its secretary, has used professional advisors over a number of years to insist that those who are responsible for monitoring the conditions are held to account.

And only this week, Mr Evans has written to Wilmslow MP George Osborne, in an effort to get him to put yet more pressure on Cheshire East Council, to belatedly enforce the planning conditions.

Mr Evans said: "We have been asking both the late Cheshire County Council and the more recent Cheshire East Council to implement the agreed planning conditions but each has ignored our appeals."

In recent weeks, the Guardian has highlighted the site and the visit to the moss, by vole conservation expert Derek Gow, who told the Guardian he had never come across 'a site so comprehensively trashed'. He added that there was little or no chance of any water voles, a protected species, now being able to survive on the site.

However, the concerns don't just stop just with the voles habitat, Mr Evans and his group. There are owners of nearby properties including Joel Millet, of Newgate Kennels, who has been forced to spend thousands of pounds on shoring up buildings as the land continues to sink all around them.

A hydrological report produced in September showed that the land had dropped by two feet over the past six years, and Mr Millet has in recent weeks been forced to close two of the outdoor kennel blocks as the land continues to drop alarmingly away.

The report's author concluded that nobody was taking responsibility for the sinking land with Cheshire East once more in the frame.

Mr Millet, whose family has run kennels at the site since the late 1940s, said: "We have closed two of the blocks in recent weeks because we need to increase the skirting around the buildings and also install higher ramps and there are two other blocks which we might have to shut permanently.

"The cost of making good the damage that has been caused by the de-watering of the site is estimated at between £600,000 to £800,000.

"The report prepared for us concluded that sediment had leaked into the nearby watercourse at Sugar Brook polluting it with sediment, which is against the Water Resources Act 1991, which the Environment Agency has responsibility for enforcing."

The EA told the Guardian: "The failure to ensure the implementation of planning conditions is a regulatory enforcement matter for Cheshire East Council and not the EA.

"Water voles and their resting places are fully protected under Section 9 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. It is the police who enforce this legislation, not the Environment Agency."

The Guardian believes it is time the local authority started answering these very fundamental questions in full, and the sooner the better.

Here are the questions we posed to Cheshire East Council and have so far failed to elicit a detailed response:

Could you please outline how Cheshire East Council has met its responsibilities with regards to ensuring that it has acted in a lawful manner in this matter and what evidence is there to support that?

How frequently has it monitored the implementation of the above conditions?

Could you please provide e-mails from the authority to the peat operator detailing what the authority is insisting Croghan Peat does to rectify the situation?

Finally, if something has gone wrong here, how does the Cheshire East, at this very late stage, intend to rectify the situation and will action be taken?

Here is the authority's response: “The Council continues to monitor the site on a regular basis and we continue to discuss any concerns with the peat extraction operator, whilst monitoring the site in relation to any impact on wildlife including water voles.”