Somerset Levels peat digging plans opposed

Image caption, Durstons Garden Products said homes would not be affected by digging

Opponents of plans to dig 20,000 tonnes of peat from a site in the Somerset Levels have said it could destabilise their homes and lead to climate change.

Peat firm Durstons Garden Products has said the plan would secure jobs in the area for the next 15 years.

The company uses the peat to make compost.

But people living near the site at Cradlebridge, near Glastonbury, said digging peat released greenhouse gases and would change the natural landscape.

'Subsidence and heave'

Briony Lazirides, who lives in nearby Sharpham, said her home had already been affected by previous digging.

She said: "My own property is being affected by this already with both subsidence and heave, which affect not only my buildings but my drain, my utilities, the phone, opening the doors and closing the doors.

"Everything is uneven, but also everything moves with the vibration of existing traffic."

She said she had been trying to sell her home since 2001 so that she could move.

Gwillam Wren, from Natural England, said: "Peat is an organic, carbon-based soil and if you dig it up it starts to oxidise and creates carbon dioxide and increases the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

"Digging it up and putting it in compost is environmentally a bad idea."

Nigel Cox, general manager of the peat firm, said he was certain nearby homes would not be affected.

He said the firm had obtained "detailed and specific data" on the issue following a previous failed planning application.

Regarding carbon emissions, Mr Cox said: "When you produce a compost that's then used by people to plant plants in, those plants take back and store carbon."

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