Public inquiry

I endorse Jenny Fyall's concerns in her article on peat bogs (12 June) about Scottish Government bodies, rebutted by Rosie Vetter of Scottish Renewables, on 16 June.

At the recent Auchencorth wind farm public inquiry, the Penicuik Environment Protection Association (Pepa) eventually had its criticism of a technical report by the developer discussed after Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) seemed to ignore it for six months before the original determination and continued to do so for the appeal except to say, in an Orwellian paradox: "Our current position is that raised and blanket bogs (such as Auchencorth Moss) are predominantly rainwater dependent wetlands and that rainwater contained within the peat structure is not currently classified as a groundwater body. For this reason, we are unable to exercise our powers under the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act to protect the Auchencorth Moss habitat, as it is not groundwater or surface water dependent."

So rainwater is not groundwater, even though it lands on the ground and stays there. The buck was passed to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) for so-called "rainwater bogs" and it was not until the public inquiry that the report was discussed.

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Pepa asked for Sepa and SNH's presence, but the request was refused. Pepa had to pay for a peat consultant to do the regulator's job.

The developer agreed at the inquiry that the technical report was flawed but there was no agreement as to what extent because neither Sepa nor SNH attended. There is no criticism of Sepa in the decision notice.

Thankfully, the appeal was dismissed on landscape grounds and contravention of the Local Plan. Incidentally, this was plain for all to see when Pepa tried to stop the appeal two years ago with a legal challenge which Scottish ministers rejected, causing Midlothian Council and Pepa the enormous expenses of the appeal. I would encourage Jenny Fyall to investigate further the role of all Scottish Government bodies in regards to wind farms.


Peebles Road


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