The decision by the Scottish Government to deny planning approval to the giant wind farm on Lewis should be applauded. It is the first glimmer of light in the whole tortuous debate on renewable energy.
The previous Labour/LibDem executive had no coherent strategy for wind energy, simply offering lucrative inducements to power companies and landowners which led to a stampede to erect giant turbines. Hundreds of applications are still in the planning pipeline, many of them in inappropriate locations which would threaten flora and fauna and industrialise some of Scotland’s most spectacular landscape. Worse still, by destroying deep peatland, as would have been the case on Lewis, these wind farms would create more carbon emissions than they would save.
Peat is a global carbon sink, storing millions of tonnes of CO2 during the tens of thousands of years the peat is formed from rotting vegetation. The first thing a contractor does before building a giant windmill on peatland is to drain the area, thus releasing all of the stored CO2 into the atmosphere. The peatland is also subsequently destroyed as a carbon sump.
Taken together with the construction of mammoth steel towers, huge metal sails, vast concrete foundations, borrow pits, drains, roads, powerlines and pylons, the carbon footprint from every wind farm on deep peat far exceeds any environmental saving.
The decision to refuse approval for the Lewis wind farm hopefully is the first of many such decisions. Similar applications for wind farms on deep peatland on Dava Moor (Grantown on Spey), Gordonbush (Sutherland), Edinbane (Skye) and Kergord Valley (Shetland) and other locations, should all be stopped. Wind energy has a role in a renewable energy mix, but it must be planned and sited.
Struan Stevenson, MEP, The European Parliament, Brussels.
If the news reported today is accurate, the Scottish Government is to be applauded for its courageous decision to refuse permission for the Lewis wind farm. It would appear that the decision was taken on environmental grounds and because of the considerable concern expressed by the European Commission. The implications for other wind farms must be obvious.
Campaigners had consistently warned that this wind farm would cause irreversible damage to one of the country’s most important wetland sites. In addition, the RSPB also opposed the project, disputing job figures put forward by developers and raising concerns about the wind farm’s impact on wildlife.
However, it needs to be remembered that there are other wind farm applications such as at Edinbane on Skye, Dava Moor and Gordonbush where the same reasons for refusal would apply and the Scottish Executive needs to take this into account, bearing in mind that the European Commission is also concerned about these potential developments.
John B P Hodgson, Chairman, Skye Wind Farm Action Group Ltd, Kerrol Farm, Edinbane, Skye
26 January 2008
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