The ‘Battle for the Bogs’ Campaign Chronology

Regular readers of the Forum’s blog will we hope have a bit of an understanding of the aims and objectives of the Forum, but we thought it might be useful if we actually made available a brief synopsis of the campaigning history associated with Thorne and Hatfield Moors.  The highlights below are by no means exhaustive, there will be omissions and we will try to address these and add any other key events which are deemed material and of potential interest to readers and social historians.  By all means, please contact us with eligible entries.  Clearly it is not up to date, but that is because casework is ongoing and unfortunately in many cases the issues are not yet resolved.  Live issues or campaigns are reported on the blog itself.  

One day, perhaps when the sites are secured and safeguarded in perpetuity for their nature conservation interest and environmental benefits we will find the time to write “the book”.  Now the question for some might be, is whether it should be the unexpurgated version in true ‘WB’ style?   With apologies to readers who never met William Bunting or the ‘Guardian of the Yorkshire Landscape’ Stephen Warburton – oh how we who carry the baton now miss their camaraderie and wisdom.  

1950s Planning consents granted for peat extraction on Thorne and Hatfield Moors.  Some of the permissions ran until 2025.  No meaningful conditions attached to any.

1969 Bunting takes on the WRCC when a proposal is submitted to dump fly ash on ‘Thorne Waste’.

1983 Bunting produces “An Outline Study of the Level of Hatfield Chase”

1985 NNR declared after (113 acres) purchased around 1975 after Fison’s found guilty of illegal peat extraction on Snaith & Cowick Moors.

1987 Dutch system of strip milling introduced on Hatfield Moors.

1989 Thorne & Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum founded, becoming formally constituted in April 1991.

1990s A series of surveys are undertaken, most notably of the invertebrates of the two Moors, although Fison’s only provide limited access particularly on Hatfield Moors.  The data obtained from these surveys were published and also formed the basis of An Inventory of the Invertebrates of Thorne & Hatfield Moors, by Peter Skidmore published in 2006.

1991 Thorne Moors by Catherine Caufield published, in which is outlined the campaigns of William Bunting.

1992 The ‘Peat Campaign’ brings Fison’s to the negotiating table, Thorne and Hatfield Moors “gifted” to the nation through English Nature but peat extraction continues unabated consequential of a leaseback agreement negotiated behind closed doors (eventually established when agreement became public).

1995 Wm Bunting dies.

1997 English Nature fail to oppose sand and gravel extraction on Poor Piece on Hatfield Moors.  Following a challenge led by the Forum and supported by the RSPB, EN revise their stance.

Victory is short lived when later in the same year, 1997, English Nature decide to denotify 35% of Hatfield Moors and 5% of Thorne Moors as no longer being of SSSI status.

1997 The Chief Executive of English Nature attends a Public Meeting at Thorne Grammar School at which around a reported 400 local people vent their feelings after discovering that the hydrological reports upon which EN based their assessment were funded by Fison’s, the peat mining company.

A collaborative campaign is relaunched and the Forum funds and submits a series of reports which challenge EN and Fison’s science.  The public take the beleaguered moors to their hearts again and the Minister instructs EN to review its decision.

House of Commons, Environment Transport and Regional Affairs Committee (Ninth Report) Session 1997 – 98 [scrutinise the conduct and work of] English Nature. 

2000 Thorne & Hatfield Moors SSSI designated as Special Protection Area (SPA) under the European Birds Directive.  Nightjar is the special interest feature.

The NGOs maintain the pressure and in 2002 consequential of impact upon sales of peat and bad public image Scott’s UK, the successors to Fisons, agree to accept compensation for loss of earnings from peat extraction (£17.3m and a further £1.32m as payment for assistance with restoration management). In September 2004 amidst a media campaign, Scotts cease extraction on Hatfield and Thorne Moors as well as Wedholme Flow in Cumbria.

2002 The Forum organise and host a two day Ministerial Conference “Peat – the way forward, a future for the UK’s peatlands?” It brings together key stakeholders to discuss options for the future.

2003 Hatfield Moors registered as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) as Lowland Raised Mire under the European Habitats Directive.

2004 Thorne Moors registered as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for Lowland Raised Mire under the European Habitats Directive.  Thorne Moors was first listed as a Candidate SAC in June 1995.  

2005 The Forum apply for and are granted Third Party Interest Status in a Public Inquiry in respect of and in support of North Lincolnshire Council’s Enforcement Action relating to alleged illegal peat extraction on Crowle Moors. 

2005 & 2006 Scotts UK continue to take cuts across peat fields over which they retain ownership and extraction permissions on at Belton Moor (Hatfield).

2006 Stephen Westoby Warburton a founding member of the Forum dies.  The Guardian newspaper describes the Northamptonshire farmer’s son as “The Guardian of the Yorkshire Landscape”.

2008 Long running campaign of local opposition with objections by Natural England, DMBC and many others to Tween Bridge Wind Farm (South Yorkshire), approved and signed off by the Secretary of State after a joint Public Inquiry (Keadby, North Lincolnshire) held in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

2009 Entomologist and Honorary Life Member of the Forum Peter Skidmore dies.

To date the Reviews of Mineral Planning Permissions required by the Habitats Directive has yet to be concluded.  The three Planning Authorities at Doncaster MBC (by far the largest area lies within this LA district), North Lincolnshire Council and the East Riding of Yorkshire Council have yet to complete the requirement.

A twelve page A5 phamplet A Chronology of Conservation Campaigning: a synopsis of key dates in the history of the ‘battle for the bogs’ at Thorne & Hatfield Moors has been produced which contains the above but also some useful additional facts about Thorne and Hatfield Moors, please feel free to download it but please follow standard etiquette by acknowledging source in any reference citations.  

140311Revised Campaign Chronology





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Hatfield Moors Birding Blog

Bird and other wildlife information service for Hatfield Moors, South Yorkshire, UK © HMBSG 17/11/2010

Mark Avery

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a new nature blog

I write about politics, nature + the environment. Some posts are serious, some not. These are my views, I don't do any promotional stuff and these views are not being expressed for anyone who employs me.

UK and Ireland Natural History Bloggers

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