The construction of giant wind turbines on deep peatland could damage the environment and add to global warming, according to a Euro Tory MP.
Struan Stevenson said deep peatland was a natural global sink for CO2, having been formed over thousands of years by decaying plant matter in which carbon is stored.
He said the development of windfarms on peatland requires first that the peat bogs are drained and this process releases vast quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere, negating the point of creating windfarms for years to come.
Mr Stevenson said peat bogs in the UK, most of which are in Scotland, stored the equivalent of Britain’s output of CO2 for the next 21 years.
He said: “If we destroy these peatbogs we are effectively releasing all of the CO2 that our factories, coal-fired power stations, cars, lorries, buses, aircraft and every other carbon emitter would produce over that timescale. Their destruction not only releases CO2 and methane, but removes an area that would otherwise continue to absorb it.”
Mr Stevenson hopes to convince the EC to stop all future wind turbine construction on peatland. He is also urging the Scottish government to call a moratorium on all proposed windfarm developments on peatland.
He said: “The peat disturbed by the construction of access roads, borrow pits and the windfarm infrastructure itself will release an estimated eight tonnes of CO2 per hectare per annum and the area will no longer be able to act as a natural carbon sink, thereby doubling the damaging effect. I fear that the overall impact from the dozens of projects already in the planning pipeline and targeted on deep peatland sites, could prove to be an environmental disaster.”
Viking Energy director Aaron Priest refuted Mr Stevenson’s observations.
He said: “Constructing windfarms does not require peatbogs to be drained first. Any roads, borrow pits and turbine bases are constructed in a way which keeps peat disturbance to an absolute minimum. This should bring stability and potential regeneration to what is currently an eroding landscape.
“Viking Energy’s environmental statement will include a full carbon audit, covering all aspects of the project’s construction. SNH have conducted scientific research into carbon release from peatlands as a result of windfarm construction. This estimates that an average performing windfarm would take two or three years to pay back any carbon released from the peat.”
18 January 2008
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