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Letters: Scottish Government’s wind farm policy has undermined efforts to save peatlands

I read your article on the latest recommendations of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) with some incredulity (“One-fifth of all farmland ‘should be returned to wilderness'”, The Herald, May 30).

At long last it has dawned on SNH, and in particular its chief executive, Francesca Osowska, the importance of preserving peatland. This is the same body that has barely raised a murmur when peatland has been destroyed by wind farm construction activities throughout Scotland and the construction of the upgraded Beauly to Denny overhead power line, which was only necessary to allow what little power is generated by wind farms north of Denny to be fed into the National Grid.

With the population of Scotland growing surely it would be sheer folly to reduce the amount of agricultural land currently available for food production and if anything we should be creating more agricultural land. I note here that housing and other development on greenfield sites has already depleted the amount of agricultural land currently available.

The article states: “Ms Osowska will add: ‘In Scotland, we are now world leaders in peatland restoration…'”. This is all very well but we should have recognised the importance of peatland before we started destroying it, highlighting the fact that whatever environmental assessments were carried out at the time were hopelessly inadequate.

As I understand it, peatland is the most important carbon sink we have and peat grows at a rate of 1mm per year, meaning it may be years, even centuries, before they recover.

The SNP Government has been complicit in the situation we find ourselves in now. It was/is falling over itself to give every wind farm application approval even to the point where it has overturned numerous decisions made democratically by various local authority planning departments throughout Scotland to refuse planning permission.

And the SNP Government made sure any wind farm developer who wanted to build a wind farm capable of generating above 50 megawatts did not have to go through the local authority planning process. Instead it reserved the power to approve such applications without consulting the relevant local authority.

All very undemocratic, but of course the SNP Government doesn’t understand the concept of democracy except when it suits them. For example Ms Sturgeon is always quick to remind us when Westminster do something she regards as undemocratic. Hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Brian A Bell, Kinross.