Your report on the joint statement by Scottish Renewables and several environmental NGOs, including the Scottish Wildlife Trust (Eco pact with energy industry reshapes Scottish landscape, News, September 19) toyed with the suggestion that the organisations are happy to give up fighting for the protection of Scotland’s peatlands and allow wind farms to be constructed on these fragile habitats in exchange for some research funding. This is not the case.
The joint statement explicitly states that deep peats and active bogs should be high constraints to development. This effectively rules out the majority of blanket and raised bogs, together with other peatlands which are actively growing and taking in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However, there are many areas of Scotland on shallow peats, including some degraded wet and dry heath, which may indeed be suitable for wind farms. These will still need very careful site by site consideration, but it would be unrealistic to say all these areas must be off-limits to developers.
This outbreak of collaboration and common sense between the industry and environmental campaigners will help achieve a balanced way forward for wind farms in Scotland.
Director of Conservation
Scottish Wildlife Trust
As environmental organisations working in Scotland we wish to clarify our position regarding the protection of Scotland’s precious bogs and deep peatlands. The pact highlights the multiple benefits of peatlands, not least their role as carbon stores, yet the principles it sets out seem to offer a compartmentalised view, making no acknowledgement of the way wind turbines will detract from our enjoyment of wild landscapes.
We are disappointed that there is no support for the precautionary principle whereby we should understand the importance of peatlands before we damage them, not after. Surely it would be better to invest in restoration and conservation of peatlands rather than solutions to restore them once damaged. Choosing peatlands as a location for commercial wind farms should be a last resort. Otherwise the turbines may be gone in 30 years but the peatlands, which took millennia to grow, will have been irrevocably damaged.
Kate Mavor, Chief Executive, National Trust for Scotland; John Mayhew, Director, Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland; Drennan Watson, Convener, Cairngorms Campaign; Stuart Brooks, Chief Executive, John Muir Trust; Dave Morris, Director, Ramblers Scotland; Bill McDermott, Chairman, Scottish Campaign for National Parks; Rob McMorran, Co-ordinator, Scottish Wild Land Group; David Gibson, Chief Officer, Mountaineering Council for Scotland
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