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Something has been puzzling me about one aspect of this debate.


Islandhopper wrote:

they will need 3.1skm for access roads only


That's 310 hectares


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6502239.stm wrote:

1,350 hectares of degraded bog were releasing 37,000 tonnes of carbon per year


Which equals:

(digs out solar calculator..... discovers it doesn't work... :evil: ) 27.407 tonnes/hectare


Which equals: 8496 tonnes CO2


But this is from degraded bog.


Shetland bog is not degraded, in fact...


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6502239.stm wrote:

What evidence there is suggests that in Scotland, bogs are still absorbing carbon from the atmosphere, while those close to England's traditional industrial heartlands have been turned by centuries of sulphur and heavy metal pollution into net sources of CO2.


So where has this assumption come from that any peat excavated to make way for the roads is going to somehow magically dissolve into the atmosphere? When they were building Sullom they excavated hundreds of thousands (possibly millions) of tonnes of peat from Calback Ness and dumped it into Orca Voe, and as far as I'm aware it's still there.


I would also assume that VE are well aware of the possible drainage and land slippage problems associated with building roads through peatlands and will take this into account when siteing these roads. In fact, if properly sited, the roads may well act as barriers to the drainage of the peat, helping to preserve the bog in their vicinity. The actual peat removed from the hill could quite easily be spread over some of the lower lying blanket bog (such as in the Kames) which could then be reseeded or even planted with trees thereby absorbing CO2 rather than releasing it. This idea that the building of the access roads is going to destroy huge areas of Shetland bog just seems to me to be ridiculous.


Just a thought anyway... :wink:

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Aye, come on, good guy ... ;-)


You claimed that you have read the posts here. Well, then, you should know that the context of the whole debate was: It's not only the access roads themselves which mark the problem. The fact is, that these some 120km or 3.1sqkm will act as a huge drainage system to the whole area ... and even the VE's publications have it implicitly that they have to dry the peats and that they thus will be building drainage parallel to the roads just to allow maintanance work all year round etc. etc.


... and then? The now still living peats are dead ... on the whole area used by the windfarm (given as some 68sqkm or so) plus a neighbouring area so far not calculated.


Take out your calculator and compare it with the dimensions of Sullom Voe OT, but take a seat first, you might be shocked ... ;-)



The dead peats will release some CO2 - ok; what's more important: they will never again catch some CO2.

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Peat bogs harbour carbon time bomb


* 18:22 07 July 2004

* NewScientist.com news service

* Fred Pearce


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* Department of Earth Sciences, University of Durham

* Centre for Ecology and Hydrology


The world’s peat bogs are hemorrhaging carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, accelerating global warming, warns a UK researcher.


And worse still, the process appears to be feeding off itself, as rising atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are triggering further releases from the bogs.


Billions of tonnes of carbon could pour into the air from peat bogs in the coming decades, says Chris Freeman of the University of Wales at Bangor, UK. “The world’s peatland stores of carbon are emptying at an alarming rate,†he says. “It’s a vicious circle. The problem gets worse and worse, faster and faster.â€


Peat bogs are a vast natural reservoir of organic carbon. By one estimate, the bogs of Europe, Siberia and North America hold the equivalent of 70 years of global industrial emissions. But concern is growing that such bogs are releasing ever more of their carbon into rivers in the form of dissolved organic carbon (DOC).


“There seems to be an increase of DOC in rivers of about 6 per cent a year at present,†says Fred Worrall of the University of Durham in the UK, who collates global data on DOC levels in rivers. Worrall suspects the rise in DOC began about 40 years ago.

Summer droughts


Bacteria in the rivers rapidly convert DOC into carbon dioxide that bubbles into the atmosphere. But speculation has been rife about why the peat bogs are giving up their carbon in the first place. In 2001, Freeman proposed that global warming was the cause (New Scientist print edition, 25 August 2001). But that hypothesis failed to stand up in field trials. A second suggestion, that increased river flows were flushing more carbon out of the bogs, also failed.


So Freeman tested a third idea - that summer droughts cause more vegetable matter in bogs to decompose, freeing up more carbon that is released into the rivers. But that too failed when Freeman simulated drought conditions in a bog in central Wales, and found that this reduced the DOC in rivers, rather than increasing it.


The trials indicate that there may be another culprit altogether: the direct effects of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Freeman grew plants on soil from peat bogs in igloo-like glass structures, some containing normal air and others with a CO2-rich atmosphere.


He found that plants in the CO2-rich atmosphere began to assimilate much larger amounts of CO2, which in turn was released into the soil moisture. There it can feed bacteria in the water that break down the peaty soil itself, releasing stored carbon from the bog into the rivers.

Rate of acceleration


After three years, the proportion of DOC in the CO2-rich soil was 10 times that within the normal soil. And there was no sign of the increase tailing off. “This shows that even without global warming, rising CO2 can damage our environment,†says Freeman. “The peat bogs are going into solution.â€


Recent data from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Lancaster, UK shows a 90 per cent increase in DOC levels in Welsh mountain rivers since 1988.


“The rate of acceleration suggests that we have disturbed something critical that controls the stability of the carbon cycle in our planet,†Freeman says. “On these trends, by the middle of the century, DOC emissions from peat bogs and rivers could be as big a source of CO2 to the atmosphere as burning fossil fuels.â€


Journal reference: Nature (vol 430 , p 195)

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Thanks for that, Twerto. I do read New Scientist but, not being a subscriber, I don't have access to their archive. That makes interesting reading. Unfortunately I've been up all night watching the elections (and then I remembered there was something I was after on ebay, which I won BTW :D )

So I'm a bit too tired to process this at the mo'. I'm off to bed now. See y'all on the flipside. :)

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Apolgoies if this is a bit too long for you Arabia Terra, (I've even editied it bit) but then again environmental concerns, need just as much coverage as any economic concerns/benefits of the windfarm:


"It started with Turbine 68. On 16 October 2003, following excavations for the 49-metre tower's massive foundations, the peat bog above the village of Derrybrien in county Galway, Ireland, began to move. That night almost half a square kilometre of bog slid 2.5 kilometres down the hillside, engulfing an unoccupied farmhouse and blocking two roads. Journalists dubbed it the "bogalanche", and speculated about what might have happened had the weather been wet. Two weeks later they found out. Heavy rains washed peat soup into the Abhainn Da Loilioch river, where the sludge killed 50,000 fish and affected 50,000 more.


Anxious not to delay Ireland's renewable energy programme, politicians reassured local people that the bogalanche was an isolated incident. The operators were fined ¬1250 for polluting the river, they adopted new working practices, and completed construction of the 71-turbine project to create Ireland's largest wind farm. But the residents of Derrybrien were not prepared to leave it there. They felt ignored by the planning system and uncertain about what might happen next, so they commissioned their own report. The findings highlighted various shortcomings of the project, and concluded that the environmental impact assessment had failed to consider the implications of constructing major infrastructure on a peat bog. As a result, the European Union is now prosecuting the Irish government in the European Court of Justice.


What happened at Derrybrien was not a major environmental catastrophe, certainly not compared to the ravages of global warming, but it is a cautionary tale. If Ireland, and the rest of the world, is going to use wind energy to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, there are going to have to be an awful lot more installations like Derrybrien. The problem is that in our haste to cash in on the obvious environmental benefits of wind power, we are largely ignoring the ecological damage that turbines can do. It is not simply a matter of sliding peat bogs. Some ecologists are warning that unless we think carefully about where wind farms are sited, they could disrupt fragile ecosystems and even contribute to global warming.


Where do you put hundreds, if not thousands, of wind turbines? The obvious answer is a windy place in the middle of nowhere. In crowded Europe, at least, that often means taking the same option as the Derrybrien developers and building wind farms on peat bogs. In the UK, such farms include the 59-megawatt Cefn Croes in mid-Wales, which was the country's biggest wind farm when it opened last year, and a proposed 234-turbine, 702-megawatt installation on the Lewis Peatlands Special Protection Area in Scotland's Outer Hebrides. "Rolling hills near the sea offer the right kind of wind, and those are also the right conditions for bogs," says peat expert Richard Lindsay from the University of East London, who compiled the report for the Derrybrien residents along with colleague Olivia Bragg.


Lindsay is an advocate for renewable energy but has become concerned by the scale and number of wind-farm developments on peat bogs in Europe. "This is the Cinderella ecosystem," he says. "Peatland is busy performing a series of important functions for us and we just don't see it." Bogs often play a critical role in providing clean drinking water. More significantly in the context of renewable energy, they store three times as much carbon as is held in tropical rainforests. "We build wind farms in order to reduce carbon emissions," Lindsay says. "Yet peatlands represent the one land-based habitat in the world that is a major long-term carbon store. By building on peat, we release this carbon store as carbon emissions into the atmosphere."


"Peat bogs store three times as much carbon as is held in tropical rainforests"

This can happen in several ways. Peat dug out for foundations and service roads is stacked up and allowed to dry, and as it does so the carbon it contains - 55 kilograms per cubic metre - oxidises and is released into the atmosphere as CO2. Construction on peat can also lead to widespread damage of a bog's integrity. Disruption of part of a bog can affect the whole ecosystem - in that respect, peatland acts more like a body of water than land, Lindsay explains. The results in this fluid environment are unpredictable, but can range from erosion of varying intensity to a catastrophic event like the one at Derrybrien.


Lindsay and Bragg calculated that the Derrybrien bogalanche released enough CO2 to nullify the carbon savings during the lifetime of two of the turbines there. Even when the ecological impact of turbines is less dramatic, carbon emissions can still be substantial. Mike Hall from the Cumbria Wildlife Trust in north-west England has developed a formula to give a wind-energy CO2 "budget" that balances the CO2 savings that a project is expected to provide against the CO2 costs from the manufacture and shipping of the turbines and construction work at the site.


The CO2 costs are considerable even before accounting for emissions from peatland, primarily because of the energy required to produce the concrete in which turbines are embedded. The new generation of 140-metre turbines, need foundations the size of half a football pitch. Building on peat bogs contributes another large source of CO2 that can add years to a turbine's CO2 payback time. "The major CO2 debt incurred by a wind turbine on a peat-rich site is not in its manufacture and installation but in the ongoing degradation of peat," Hall says.


Payback time

Hall has devised three scenarios for CO2 emissions from degrading peat. The first is a baseline figure calculated simply from the amount of peat excavated in construction. The second "minimal scenario" includes emissions from degraded peat up to 50 metres around areas of disturbance such as foundations and service roads. This figure is being used by wind farm developer AMEC in Scotland. A third "high scenario" extends that range to 100 metres. Hall believes this is closest to the actual level of disruption, citing Lindsay's research, which indicates that damage to peat can extend for as much as 250 metres on either side of tracks or drainage ditches, as water drains from the affected area.


To calculate carbon savings, Hall uses the developers' own predictions, which generally give figures for overall electricity generation of about 30 per cent of the maximum rated capacity of a turbine. The average achieved output for existing wind farms is actually lower than this - 25.6 per cent according to industry figures. Using the conservative "minimal scenario", Hall calculates that a 2-megawatt turbine built on peat moorland 1 metre deep will take 8.2 years to pay back its CO2 cost. The figure for the "high scenario" is a whopping 16 years. Even the minimal figure is a substantial portion of a turbine's normal lifespan of 25 years, and considerably higher than the industry's own figures, which range between three and 18 months.


Developers sometimes promise to avoid some of these emissions by, for example, using "floating roads". "I call them 'sinking roads'," Lindsay says, having witnessed the fate of floating roads at Derrybrien. Worse, he believes environmental impact assessments completed by developers on peat bogs are often either flawed or incomplete. "Should we be developing energy systems on the landscape that is our main carbon store and which releases carbon when you build on it?" he asks. Put that way, the proliferation of wind farms on peatland does seem somewhat foolhardy. But what are the alternatives?


In the US and Australia many wind farms are built in desert regions. The ecological impact in these environments is largely unstudied. Somnath Baidya Roy from Princeton University and his team have done research suggesting that rotating turbine blades lead to desiccation of the surrounding area, which may be particularly damaging in deserts (Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres, DOI: 10.1029/2004JD004763). In addition, a recent study of Californian ground squirrels reveals that those living close to wind farms are more edgy and cautious than those that inhabit areas of desert where there are no turbines. Lawrence Rabin from the University of California, Davis, and colleagues conclude that this is likely to have a knock-on effect within the ecosystem, affecting species including golden eagles, red-legged frogs and California tiger salamanders. They, like Lindsay, argue for greater care in siting turbines to minimise their ecological impact.


In Europe, the main alternative to peat bog sites is to go offshore. Denmark leads the way. By 2030, it will have an offshore capacity of 4000 megawatts - around 40 per cent of its total electricity requirement. The UK also has big ideas, with 13 projects of up to 30 turbines each already approved, and a goal of achieving half its renewable target for 2010 with offshore turbines. Research into the ecological impact of offshore renewable energy developments is even sparser than for onshore projects. Writing in the Journal of Applied Ecology last year (vol 42, p 605), Andrew Gill from the Institute of Water and Environment at Cranfield University in Silsoe, Bedfordshire, UK, noted that only 1 per cent of all papers on renewable energy published in the past 15 years considers environmental impacts onshore, and none offshore. We have very little idea how offshore installations will affect the marine environment and disrupt its wildlife through habitat damage, noise and vibration, electromagnetic fields and collisions with turbines, he warns. The marine ecosystem is largely uncharted territory, so wind farm developers often have no way of knowing which sites might be less vulnerable.


This lack of basic ecological information is also a major concern to Mark Avery, conservation director for the UK's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. "You would think, with the industry being more advanced in other countries, that there would be papers you could just pull off the shelf," he says. Yet even figures on bird collisions with turbines, a long-standing bone of contention, is limited (see "Watch the birdie"). "Climate change is very bad news, and we're convinced we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," says Avery. "Renewables, including wind energy, have a part to play. The problem is where to put them."


We will need a lot more research to answer that question. In the meantime, though, there is an alternative to building huge wind farms in vulnerable habitats. We could all install our own personal turbines on the roofs of our houses. "I do believe that micro-generation has an important part to play," Lindsay says.



From issue 2559 of New Scientist magazine, 08 July 2006, page 36

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Well I hope you found time to read the article.


In the meantime I give you:




This provides guidance where a local authority has an interest in a development.


Objectors take note...has the site selection process been rigourous and transparent?? (para 13)


para's 15 - 17 - cover effective public consultation.



On an Offshore Wind/Wave Energy front:


Orkney lead the way again: http://www.greenjobs.com/public/industrynews/inews02570.htm



but then again they have bigger waves/tides than shetland:


This is by the department of trade and industry who commissioned studies on wave/wind power (oil no more)




Very long, but very interesting, as it shows the potential that shetland and orkney (amongst others- we are not alone!) have to contributing to marine renewables. Maybe wind is being replaced by offshore renewables, the Danish have it right anyway, they led the way with wind energy 30+ years ago, and have been developing offshore turbines for the last 5+ years.



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The fact is, that these some 120km or 3.1sqkm will act as a huge drainage system to the whole area ...


I'm not sure on this one.... you could certainly design th roads so that you bloody mindedly gathered all the water into ditches and ran it away from where it used to go.... but if you were willing to put some time and money into the design, I don't see why there should be any more than a local (local to the roads) effect on the drainage.....

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^^^ I've said it someplace on this board before, most moor is notoriously difficult, if not virtually impossible to successfully drain, even when you purposely set about doing so. Roads have been cut through moor on slopes in hills in the past, and unless for less than 10 feet back from the cut, virtually no change has yet occured in almost all cases I can think of. The cuts I have in mind were initially made at least 50 - 100 years ago as well. Moor is effectively a sponge it soaks up water and determindly refuses to let go, it has a point of saturation above which you will drain off the water which exists above it, certainly, but what is left when saturation levels drop to that point, is more than adequate to maintain the moor in a very wet and healthy "moory" state, and below that point of saturation it is is very difficult to get, especially when your only method of trying is cut drainage channels.


Certainly, cutting roadways through it has the potential to drain extremely marshy/boggy tracts somewhat if it allows that excessive water retention an outlet, but it won't render them "dry" by a long shot. It may also destabilise the moor on slopes with the potential of future slippages, but that can be minimised to be, IMHO, negible, with some planning and forethought. It just needs, as Carlos points out, adequate attention paid to designing the roadway layouts to avoid wherever possible cutting across low on steep slopes, especially those with deeper moor, and providing adequate drainage to the catchment areas above slopes with slippage potential so as to minimise sufficent water retention to drive them.


Mention has been made of the slippages at the south end a few years back, and while I cannot comment on the Sandwick ones, as I'm not all that familar with the site. It does bear saying that while those around the Eigg and Channerwick may, or may not, in part have been contributed to by road improvements in the recent past, it is, IMHO, equally, if not more so likely, that "neglect" also played an important contributory part. Back in the day when people relied on peats for their sole heating fuel, and their land for their food, many many ditches and drains were maintained in the vicinity, as were peat banks. That hasn't been the case now for a very long time, the ditches and drains have long since grown in so as to be useless, abandoned peat workings have in effect become reservoirs, it all caused that hillside to be able to contain far more water than it had in probably hundreds of years, and you saw the results. Reducing the containment capacity of your catchment area is an important, if not the singular most important issue to minimising slippage potential, and all it takes is a few stragetically placed ditches, maintained in good condition which can immediately carry off excess water virtually as it falls.

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.... but if you were willing to put some time and money into the design, ...

Well, Carlos, in theory that might be right ... in theory ...


Practically we would have to consider the following facts:


i) the roads must be capable of trucks up to 60 ... 80 to 100ts depending on type of turbine etc.

ii) building such a road on top of the peatlayer is nearly unpossible, so

iii) you have to cut into the peat - where not down to the solid rock at least down to a level allowing some kind of solid surfacing

iv) where you will cut into the peat the water will definitely start to flow ... according to basic principles downhill ...

v) not only through the peat itself but following the easiest way ... that would be the solid rock or the solid road surface or along any kind of drainage parallel to the road.


vi) Now, imagine 3.1sqkm of either bare rock or otherwise sealed road surface and the annual average rainfall in that particular area of roughly calculated some 1200 mm or so (???) - just to talk about the amount of water added per year, not considering what is already within the peat

vii) take your calculator to find out to how much cubic metres that might add to over the year (I always get mixed up with the "000" ;-) ) ... but I have a vague idea that it might fill a nice little pond half way downhill or wherever you wish to collect the water.


From there you would have to redistribute the water to the hilltops to inject it back into the peats ... pumped through some 120km along that roads up the hill ...


It doesn't make sense to speculate about the costs for such or similar provisions but over here the companies would be forced to keep the peats alive somehow and the additional costs for that is quite simply the reason why they don't go into peatlands (of which we have less than you). ;-)


Having a different approach to your peatlands is no problem specific to Shetland - people over here don't value what they have next to their frontdoor either ... ;-)

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... The importance of understanding peat landslide mechanisms and the potential for their occurrence has increased as pressure for renewable energy technologies and development sites in peatlands has increased. Wind farms, applications for which are often concentrated in upland and peat covered areas, are seen by many as the means by which carbon emissions and the UK's reliance on fossil and nuclear fuels might be reduced. However, the high environmental value afforded to peat uplands requires that the benefits of wind farm developments are evaluated against their potential negative consequences for local peat areas and their often diverse and unique habitats ...


Scottish Executive: Peat Landslide Hazard and Risk Assessments: Best Practice Guide for Proposed Electricity Generation Developments; January 2007


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Interesting news item in papers today about what they called "Wind Farm Terrorists"who have demolished a piece of windfarm test equipment in Norfolk.


The article goes on to speculate that there might be a growing trend for this sort of direct action in other parts of the country!


I'm all in favour of getting "blacked up" and roaming the hills in the dark with a pair of bolt cutters!

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Hi me again


I have heard an interesting story today regarding the interconnector.


Apparently the power generated by the turbines has to be converted from AC to DC electricity for onward transmission to the mainland, and then converted back to AC for supply into the national grid.


This sounds fairly straightforward but apparently the size of the building required for the equipment is massive!!


I hear a building 200m x 200m x 40m high is required!!


This surely can not be correct.


Dury Voe, where the Whalsay ferry comes to the mainland is the preferred landing point. Don't know where DC shed is going to be hidden??


Perhaps David or someone with knowledge, could clarify this point for me.

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Well, i don't claim to have "knowledge" but i can quote the VE rep's in saying that the building required would be comparable in size to the new part of the Lerwick power station, only not quite as tall, and that a possibe location would be Catfirth where it would be discreetly tucked away up one of the valleys. *cough* Hard to resist a bit of photo-editing on the subject.

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*cough* Hard to resist a bit of photo-editing on the subject.

Forget about all this. VE has already started to produce new pics on their website producing different point of views as they did before and thus giving up any chance to compare but adding to the confusion as far as visual impacts are concerned.


But let me take the chance and add some info about windfarming and tourism. We that is to say me and some other folks got rid of this stupid references given on the VE website (and other websites regarding different projects in Scotland) that is to say that VisitScotland so called "expert hearing" and the MORI poll Argyll project. It is quite obviously that there is not much more with regard to tourism and therefore we decided tonight to do our own poll. It will have no particular interest in the Shetland project or the Lewis project or any other.


The leading Scotland related German speaking forums and communities with the help of some retired GfKNOP staff have created a questionaire that will be available for our registered users and newsletter readers and some "handpiced" others.


This questionair will be available for some 4800 German speaking registered members that is to say a sample of some 2.6% of all German speaking tourists to Scotland in 2006.


This sample will not be represantative for the Lewis or Shetland projects themselves but we will offer a bunch of questions which allow to differe between small scale local projects and large scale projects aiming at international markets.


But to define between differences of size we have refered to figures we got from the project descriptions for the Western Isles and Shetland. And we will have additional set questions about in which regions at least German speaking tourists would accept large scale developments and where they definitely don't want to see them at all ... that is to say interms of attitudes, not regarding technical impact.


Despite that we will not be represantative with regard to all aspects simply due to the fact that we will get first time visitors mostly from some participating German tourist agents but we are quite confident that on the other hand multiple visitors with al long tome experience will be "overrepresentated" - but so stating long lasting opinions and interests. With other aspects such as standard interests, standard behaviour we might well be able due to the cross sample to match the figures of ScotExchange which we have taken as our reference base.


The poll will run from the 15th of June until the end of the German school holiday season at midth of september 2007.

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