Wind energy: so what DO the Department for Energy and Climate Change know?

The following are exchanges in the House of Commons between Labour MP for Workington, Sir Tony Cunningham and Gregory Barker and John Hayes MP – each Ministers in the Department of Energy & Climate Change ( DECC ).

The issue is the environmental impact on wind farm installations on historic peatlands; and the ability of peatlands naturally to store carbon emissions. The emphases in the texts are ours.

11th March 2013

Sir Tony Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of the effect that wind farms (a) installed on peatlands, (b) approved for construction on peatlands and (c) awaiting planning approval for construction on peatlands (i) have had to date and (ii) will have on the capacity of such peatlands to sequester carbon dioxide. [146897]

Gregory Barker: The Department for Energy and Climate Change does not hold information on the number of wind power installations installed on peatlands.
It is important to ensure that when wind turbines are constructed on peatlands, the process is managed carefully to minimise carbon losses from the soil. Applicants for consent for major energy infrastructure sited on peatland must provide assessments of potential biodiversity and geological impacts. The decision-making authority would need to take such impacts into account before making its decision.
In most cases, if managed carefully, new wind turbines constructed on peatlands from now until 2030 will still have significantly lower carbon emissions per unit of electricity generated than the UK marginal electricity mix.

13th March 2013

Sir Tony Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what his policy is on the siting of energy infrastructure on peatlands. [146894]

Mr Hayes: Applicants for consent for major energy infrastructure must provide assessments of potential biodiversity and geological impacts which would include an assessment of the effects of locating the infrastructure on peatland if that was the case. The decision-making authority would need to take such impacts into account before making its decision.
The National Policy Statement for Renewable Energy Infrastructure (EN-3)(1) contains further information on the assessment of applications for consent for onshore wind farms on peat.
(1)https://Whitehall-admin.production.alphagov.co.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/37048/1940-nps-renewable-energy-en3.pdf

Sir Tony Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what consideration is given to the capacity of peatlands to sequester carbon dioxide in the strategy to achieve carbon dioxide reduction targets. [146896]

Mr Hayes: We acknowledge the importance of peatland restoration in maintaining carbon stocks and recognise their potential for sequestering additional carbon.
At present peatlands, are not accounted for in UK greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will publish a methodology to account for peatlands in July 2013, and we are currently considering what land use and forestry activities the UK will account for in the period 2013-20.

14th March 2013

Sir Tony Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many wind power installations (a) installed, (b)approved and (c) awaiting planning permission are sited on peatlands. [146895]

Gregory Barker: The Department does not hold this information.

It has to be said that this institutionalised cavalier attitude at government level to environmental responsibility hardly engenders confidence in the security of government development policy in wind energy; or in planning consents given in such circumstances as those Sir Tony Cunningham is exploring.

It is equally astonishing that government is content to rely on the interrogated environmental impacts of wind farms presented by those applying for planning consent for such installations – in support of their applications.

Such applicants are the developers, in whose interests it is to minimise any statement of environmental impacts of the installations they wish to farm for profit.

If the DECC does not know – or seek to know by holding and interrogating necessary information – the number of wind farm installations and applications for installation on peatlands, their environmental impacts and their carbon storage capacity – what do they know?

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6 Responses to Wind energy: so what DO the Department for Energy and Climate Change know?

  1. Pingback: Wind energy: so what DO the Department for Energy and Climate Change know? – For Argyll | greentomorrows

  2. Astonishing. Especially when you have Aberdeen/ British academics saying that it is impossible to develop anything on peat without releasing all this CO2. They clearly state that NO DEVELOPMENT MUST HAPPEN ON PEAT. They laugh at the measures taken to ‘minimise’ impact. Govt must listen to them. Turbine companies pour huge amounts of concrete onto & into the peat + build miles of tracks = dramatically alters the hydrology of the peat bogs and the bog pH. The Aberdeen study, funded by the SG, also clearly states that peat bogs hold more CO2 than rainforests. Our govt pays millions to preserve the rainforests of Borneo, yet it couldn’t care less about our own peat moorlands. That is nothing short of scandalous.

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