This website uses cookies for anonymised analytics and for account authentication. See our privacy and cookies policies for more information.





The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Peatland in danger over windfarm extension in area of natural beauty

This news post is 7 months old
 

Development is in the heart of the Monadhliath Mountains

Conservation campaigners have expressed anger after the Scottish Government rubber stamped a wind farm on fragile peatland.

The John Muir Trust says the 29-turbine Cloiche wind farm in the heart of the Monadhliath Mountains conflicts with the government’s policy on peatland.

The new development is effectively an extension to the existing Stronelairg wind farm, which in 2013 was scaled down from 88 turbines to 67 to accommodate planning objections by Highland Council. This in turn allowed the developer, SSE, to avoid the scrutiny of a Public Local Inquiry.

Ten years later, the energy giant has now been given the go ahead to expand their existing wind farm to 98 turbines spread over a vast area one and a half times the size of Inverness. By the time the extension is completed, SSE will have excavated over 800,000 cubic metres of rock from an area of peatland to build tracks and turbine bases.

In response to the decision, Mike Daniels, Head of Policy of the John Muir Trust said: “We are disappointed at this decision, which is inconsistent with a ruling by Scottish Ministers last year to reject an application for Glenshero wind farm adjacent to Cloiche and Stronelairg.

“We are further dismayed that our planning system allows developers to scale down an application to gain approval, then return at a later date to successfully reinstate their rejected application.”

“Most importantly, we are concerned that there is an underlying conflict between the Scottish Government’s ambition for large-scale peatland restoration to store carbon in perpetuity, and the short-term drive by energy companies and private landowners to maximise profits by constructing badly sited onshore wind farms.

The Scottish Government is currently seeking tenders to update its wind farm carbon calculator, which peatland experts have described as deeply flawed. The John Muir Trust is urging ministers to accelerate progress in this area.

“Our understanding of the vital role of peatland restoration as a natural solution to the climate crisis is greater now than ever before, while the science and technology of assessing emissions has raced forward in recent years,” said Mike Daniels. “Before we cover more of our wild places and peatlands with turbines, tracks, transmission line and other infrastructure, we need to make sure that every application for built development on peatland is rigorously assessed to measure the extent of drainage and the potential for restoration.

We support the Scottish Government targets for onshore and offshore wind, but we are deeply concerned that large-scale wind farms are being constructed in the wrong places, where land is cheaper to lease and profit margins are higher.”

The new development is effectively an extension to the existing Stronelairg wind farm, which in 2013 was scaled down from 88 turbines to 67 to accommodate planning objections by Highland Council. This in turn allowed the developer, SSE, to avoid the scrutiny of a Public Local Inquiry.

Ten years later, the energy giant has now been given the go ahead to expand their existing wind farm to 98 turbines spread over a vast area one and a half times the size of Inverness. By the time the extension is completed, SSE will have excavated over 800,000 cubic metres of rock from an area of peatland to build tracks and turbine bases.

In response to the decision, Mike Daniels, Head of Policy of the John Muir Trust said: “We are disappointed at this decision, which is inconsistent with a ruling by Scottish Ministers last year to reject an application for Glenshero wind farm adjacent to Cloiche and Stronelairg.

“We are further dismayed that our planning system allows developers to scale down an application to gain approval, then return at a later date to successfully reinstate their rejected application.”

“Most importantly, we are concerned that there is an underlying conflict between the Scottish Government’s ambition for large-scale peatland restoration to store carbon in perpetuity, and the short-term drive by energy companies and private landowners to maximise profits by constructing badly sited onshore wind farms.

The Scottish Government is currently seeking tenders to update its wind farm carbon calculator, which peatland experts have described as deeply flawed. The John Muir Trust is urging ministers to accelerate progress in this area.

“Our understanding of the vital role of peatland restoration as a natural solution to the climate crisis is greater now than ever before, while the science and technology of assessing emissions has raced forward in recent years,” said Mike Daniels. “Before we cover more of our wild places and peatlands with turbines, tracks, transmission line and other infrastructure, we need to make sure that every application for built development on peatland is rigorously assessed to measure the extent of drainage and the potential for restoration.

We support the Scottish Government targets for onshore and offshore wind, but we are deeply concerned that large-scale wind farms are being constructed in the wrong places, where land is cheaper to lease and profit margins are higher.”