Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Letters / Peat propaganda

So now rights of access have been suspended on the Viking Energy wind farm site. What a surprise!

And this is just after sceptics and opponents had been exhorted by wind farm enthusiasts and apologists alike to concentrate their energies on ensuring that planning conditions were adhered to by the company and its contractors.

Meanwhile, on its website, VE has dredged out the carbon payback propaganda it presented in its 2010 Addendum, doubtless to try to justify the peat extraction at Sandwater that is currently appalling a lot of folk – some of whom have pointed out that this is only the beginning.

The propaganda claims that: “…comprehensive research demonstrates that the majority of the peat on the wider wind farm site is significantly damaged, degraded and is consequently a net-emitter of carbon.”

There is actually no scientific evidence to back this up. Indeed the habitat surveys which are in VE’s Environmental Statement of 2009 demonstrate that large areas of the site are covered by active blanket bog.

The peatland ecologist Dr Birnie, whose addendum report is used to bolster the carbon emission claim, led a field trip in 2010 to the Mid Kame, where he had done his original erosion research.

He showed participants how a reduction in sheep numbers had allowed previously bare peat to spontaneously re-vegetate with sphagnum moss, the main constituent of active blanket bog. The contrast between this area and, separated by a stock fence, an adjacent tract of hagged bare peat was striking and compelling.

The ridiculous irony, not to say crime, is that this area of recovered or restored active bog is to be dug up for turbine bases and access and cable tracks. For the material to be moved, stored and transplanted to other areas of bare peat is at best an experimental mitigation trial. There is no guarantee of success.

We should not forget either that VE proposes to fill its excavated quarries with up to 1.7 metres depth of dried and mixed peat. How that can credibly be called restoration is beyond me.

Reading VE’s propaganda, one could be forgiven for believing that peatland restoration can only be undertaken if the wind farm, which is destroying large tracts of active blanket bog, is built.

That’s of course not only ridiculous but nonsense. Peatland restoration has been undertaken in Shetland already for a number of years now, and (another irony) continues to receive substantial Scottish government funding.

The author Jamie Whittle, in his book White River (about the river Findhorn) had this to say about wind farms:

“We are told that we must sacrifice biodiversity and wild landscapes in order to prevent climate change. Such a proposition is a false choice. If in order to tackle climate change we destroy natural capital we have failed. We have failed to move into the paradigm of genuine sustainable development, and have remained in a twilight existence of dysfunction and deception.”

How awfully true those final words sound today.

James Mackenzie