November 17, 2012

Doubts over peatlands

The Press and Journal | 17 November 2012

Scientists who supplied the data used by the Scottish Government to help judge windfarm applications have called for an end to developments on peatlands.

Jo Smith, Dali Rani Nayak and Pete Smith from Aberdeen University have expressed grave doubts about the wisdom of the policy in a letter to the journal Nature.

The team previously helped develop the “carbon calculator”, which is used by the Scottish Government and energy companies to assess the impact of windfarms on carbon emissions.

It measures whether the construction of a windfarm on peatland will result in more carbon being released than would be saved during the development’s 25-year lifespan.

Like rainforests, peatlands – which are formed from decomposing wet vegetable matter – lock in carbon. In their letter to the journal, the team say they believe that building large-scale windfarms on healthy peatlands may be self-defeating because of the disturbance and dessication caused during the construction process.

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland said the letter clearly had “profound implications for where turbines should be situated in Scotland and elsewhere”.

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