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Volume 4 Special Volume: Wind Farms on Peatland (2008-2010): Article 8
Peatland vulnerability to energy-related developments from climate change policy in Ireland: the case of wind farms
by F. Renou-Wilson and C.A. Farrell
Published online: 16.05.2009
Ireland enjoys a wet and windy climate which is highly suitable for both peatlands and wind farms. There are currently 73 wind farms in Ireland, 39 of which are located on upland peatland - the oldest one on an industrially extracted blanket bog. The national and local (county level) policy in relation to wind farms is to promote renewable energy in order to decrease dependence on imported fossil fuels and to mitigate climate change by reducing carbon emissions from non-renewable energy sources, whilst taking account of statutory obligations for planning and sustainable development. Lessons learned from past developments and ongoing monitoring have been applied in adapting guidelines for planning authorities and environmental impact assessment. However, although the vulnerability of peatland habitats is emphasised in the guideline documents, wind farm proposals for sensitive upland peatland sites continue to appear. Any development that involves drainage and fragmentation of peatlands has irreversible impacts on these ecosystems. Furthermore, the perceived ‘green profile’ of wind farms means that they tend to be viewed in a different light from other developments. It is proposed that any development on the nationally and internationally significant peatland resource of Ireland should undergo rigorous examination and impact assessment, and that degraded peatlands such as the industrial peat extraction areas in the Irish Midlands be selected as alternative locations for wind farm development.
Renou-Wilson, F. & Farrell, C.A. (2009): Peatland vulnerability to energy-related developments from climate change policy in Ireland: the case of wind farms. Mires and Peat 4: Art. 8. (Online: http://www.mires-and-peat.net/pages/volumes/map04/map0408.php)
IMCG and IPS acknowledge the work of the reviewers.