March 20, 2015

World expert joins RSPB fight against northern windfarm

By Neil Macphail | The Press and Journal | 20 March 2015 |

Bird charity the RSPB has taken on a world expert in their fight against a far north windfarm.

Dr Hans Joosten, Professor of Peatland Studies and Palaeoecology at the University of Greifswald, Germany, will be giving evidence in support of RSPB Scotland’s case against the proposal to build a huge windfarm at Strathy South in the Flow Country of Sutherland.

Professor Joosten is an acknowledged international expert on peatlands and their significance for carbon storage and climate change.

He said: “The Flow Country is world renowned as the largest Atlantic blanket bog in Europe. Scotland has a reputation as a peatland country and how this immensely important site is treated will be of interest to other peatland nations.”

The proposal by SSE to develop a 39-turbine windfarm has already encountered robust opposition from conservation organisations including RSPB Scotland, the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Plantlife Scotland and BugLife.

The Scottish Government’s own advisors, Scottish Natural Heritage, have also recommended refusal as has the Highland Council.

John McTague of the Scottish Wildlife Trust said: “Important peatlands would be significantly damaged by this development. Over half of the proposed turbines would be situated on peat more than a metre in depth, which would have started to form over 1,000 years ago.

“Scotland’s peatlands are increasingly recognised as a valuable national asset and we believe the proposed location, surrounded by internationally important sites, is incompatible with this type of development”.

RSPB Scotland head of planning, Aedan Smith, said: “Windfarms make a vital contribution to Scotland’s energy mix, while helping reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. However, like any development, they must be sited to avoid Scotland’s most precious wildlife sites.

“Strathy South is special. It is located in the heart of the Flow Country and is surrounded on all sides by land of the highest conservation value. You could hardly find a less appropriate location for a development of this kind. Even at this late stage we would appeal to SSE to withdraw this hugely contentious proposal and concentrate instead on building much needed renewables in less sensitive locations.”

The inquiry starts on Monday April 20 in Strathy Village hall and the public are welcome to observe the proceedings.

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