Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) claims its proposed wind farm development at Stronelairg above Fort Augustus wiill not impact on deep peat ("Council urged to oppose wild land turbines", The Herald, April 15).
However, the company admits in its environmental statement that a quarter of the site is on peat deeper than one and a half metres, with nearly a further quarter more than one metre. One metre is the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's definition of deep peat.
Indeed, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) in its response to the application highlights the fact that the developer, SSE, does not actually know just how deep the peat on site is. When it surveyed the site, the longest probe it used could only reach two and a half metres into the ground.
SEPA highlights that the applicant has no reasonable ability to state that the layout and construction plan avoids impacts on deep peat, stating: "We consider that insufficient detail has been provided in relation to the minimisation of disturbance to peat throughout the whole [Stronelairg] project".
Research from the University of Leeds indicates that single drains can affect peat bogs across distances of 400m or more. When peat dries out it releases carbon. Despite this serious issue, the developer cited five metres as the distance from drains that peat would be affected by such drains in their application. This means the figures it puts forward in its Stronelairg Wind Farm Environmental Statement seriously underestimate the damage to this valuable wild area the development would cause.
SSE's claims that Stronelairg will not affect deep peat are dubious at best. Unless it provides sufficient further objective and verifiable evidence this is one more reason Government must throw out the Stronelairg development.