Natural England, the government’s environment watchdog, is investigating what some residents have called the “bulldozing” of two fields off Nuttall Lane in Ramsbottom by land owner Peel Holdings in August, following complaints from members of the public and a request from Bury North MP James Frith.
Peel’s unannounced removal of scrub and vegetation from the popular dog walking spot, which lay untouched for many years, angered local residents and prompted MP James Frith to write to Peel Holdings to demand an explanation for what he called “environmental vandalism”. James also reported the matter to Greater Manchester Police’s wildlife crime division and Natural England, stating his belief that an environmental impact assessment should have been carried out before any work was carried out.
In his response to James’s letter, Philip Rothwell, Planning Director for Peel Holdings, said “no environmental impact assessment was carried out as we do not consider that this work falls within the scope of the regulations.” However, in its latest response to James Frith, Natural England has confirmed that an investigation is taking place:
“Natural England believe the land and work undertaken falls within the scope of the Environmental Impact Assessment (Agriculture) (England) Regulations 2006 (as amended), and are currently investigating the environmental significance of the works and assessing what, if any, enforcement action should be taken.”
James Frith said:
“I welcome the investigation by Natural England following my request and complaints from local residents. Peel Holdings were reckless in carrying out this work with no consideration of the environmental impact and no consultation with the local residents who cherish these fields and the surrounding countryside. If any breach of the regulations is found, enforcement action should be taken to discourage this behaviour in future. Peel must understand that this will not do. Ramsbottom residents and I are fed up with their auto-response to our concerns about our environment.”