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MEP’s warning over fast tracked wind farms

Scots Tory MEP Struan Stevenson has issued a stark warning to Prime Minister Gordon Brown about his newly announced plans to erect 7,000 new wind turbines in the UK.

He fears that the legislation may fast-track the building of wind turbines on peatland, releasing huge amounts of CO2 into the environment and destroying swathes of Scottish countryside including Dava Moor.

Speaking from Brussels, Mr Stevenson said: “It is an admirable sentiment of the Prime Minister to pledge to increase renewable energy sources. However, I hope he takes note of the damage that could be done to the environment in the building of these structures.

“Many giant wind turbines in Scotland would have to be built on deep peatland, causing immense damage to the environment and releasing vast quantities of CO2.”

Hundreds of applications are already in the planning pipeline, many of them in wholly inappropriate locations, said the MEP.

“They would threaten endangered flora and fauna and industrialise some of Scotland’s most spectacular landscape. Worse still, by destroying deep peatland, these wind-farms would create more carbon emissions than they would ever save.

“Current applications are in the pipeline exist for seven windfarms at Dava Moor in Grantown and for the Kergord Valley in Shetland, and in many other locations. They should all be stopped.

“Wind energy certainly has a role to play in a diverse renewable energy mix, but it must be properly planned and sited.

“Allowing the rape of Scotland’s natural heritage as well as a potential technical breach of the Kyoto protocol, which has a requirement that signatories protect their natural carbon sinks, is just not an option.”

However, his comments come as opponents claim new government research shows that the carbon payback for constructing wind farms on peatlands can be under three years.

The green energy trade body Scottish Renewables has responded saying that this research ‘blows away’ the myth that wind farms cannot be constructed in peatland areas without causing massive release of carbon.

They have condemned calls for a moratorium of wind farms on peatland areas as ‘misguided and blocking effective action on climate change’.

The report published on Friday identifies a model for the assessment of carbon savings from wind farms constructed on peat soils.

It was produced by The Macaulay Institute and Aberdeen University for the Scottish Government and involved a stakeholder group representing peatland conservation and environmental NGOs, SNH, the energy industry and local government.

Mr Jason Ormiston, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables said, “Scotland’s wind industry is acutely aware of the need to tackle climate change and protect precious peatland habitats from destruction. This research shows that by using good practice then we can responsibly develop on peat soils and still slash the emissions that cause climate change.

“Calls for a blanket moratorium on all peatland areas have now been shown to be misguided and are blocking effective action on climate change.

“It’s time to move away from the myths that perpetuate the debate around wind farms and continue the dialogue with real environmentalists about how, not if we should develop wind farms on peatland areas.”

He added: “The wind industry has an excellent record in Scotland and has shown itself adept at building good wind farms in the right places, this includes a number of wind farms on and around areas of peat. We will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure that this record is maintained and that issues around biodiversity and peat are addressed.”

Strathspey and Badenoch Herald

2 July 2008