By RYAN TAYLOR
A MORATORIUM should be placed on new windfarms amid fears over the effect they could have on deep peat lands across Scotland, according to a Tory MEP.
Struan Stevenson’s comments follow a new report by the John Muir Trust, which he says supports the argument the ecosystem service provided by upland habitats should be assessed before any consideration is given to building windfarms on environmentally sensitive sites.
He said he would bring the report before the European Commission in the hope it would incorporate its recommendations into future EU environmental guidelines.
“Allowing windfarms to be built on such sites is the Scottish equivalent of cutting down rain forests in the Amazon,” he said. “Scotland has a unique resource in these precious upland areas and the service they provide to the environment both nationally and globally should be carefully assessed before any consideration is given to allowing their disruption.
“I urge the Scottish government to call a moratorium on all proposed windfarm developments on deep peat land in Scotland, including Dava Moor in Grantown on Spey and Kergord in Shetland, where vast areas of peat land habitat will be destroyed.
“The new report entirely vindicates the position that I have voiced for some time. The construction of giant wind turbines on sensitive upland habitats and particularly on deep peat land in Scotland damages the environment and adds to global warming.
“Deep peat land is a natural global store for carbon dioxide. Disrupting these sensitive habitats with the construction of giant turbines and their associated infrastructure simply destroys the deep peat bog and releases vast quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, rendering the whole development carbon dioxide negative in terms of its impact on climate change.
Mr Stevenson has previously voiced concerns about such developments preventing the deep peat bog from continuing to function as a carbon sump, as well as destroying important habitats for wildlife.
Viking Energy’s Aaron Priest pointed to a recent report by the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI), which said Scotland would rely on windfarms if it was to achieve a target of obtaining half its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
It added a 500 per cent increase in the number of windfarms would likely be be required across Scotland within the next 12 years.
The report on the future of electricity generation north of the border says onshore wind will account for over 80 per cent of the increase of renewable electricity by 2020, with marine bio mass and hydro expanding at a 10th of the rate of new wind.
It says Scotland is likely to need £10 billion of investment in new electricity generation.
And it warns that despite continued attempts to encourage greater energy efficiency, demand for electricity is set to rise by 10 per cent in the same time frame.
Mr Priest said the evidence pointed towards a need for new windfarm developments.
“Nationally we have to deliver large amounts of onshore wind and from our point of view it makes sense to do that where the resource is widely available and the community can benefit.”