The Trust is calling for an appeal to extract ancient peat from a site in Fife to be rejected.
In July, an application for commercial peat extraction at Mossmorran was refused. This proposal would have led to a 1,200 year old peat bog being excavated, ultimately destroying this important habitat.
However, the developer is appealing to the Scottish Government to reconsider and allow this Viking-age peat to be dug up for commercial use.
Peat bogs are increasingly being recognised for the ecosystem services they provide – such as water filtration, flood mitigation, wildlife habitat and carbon storage – and are much more valuable to society when left in-situ than the small value of the peat after being dug up.
The Trust recently welcomed the launch of the Scottish Government’s National Peatland Plan, which set out an ambitious vision for restoring, valuing and investing in Scotland’s peatlands. However, if commercial developers continue to destroy peatlands, Scotland will be unable to meet its ambition.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust Living Landscapes Policy Officer, John McTague, said: “The Scottish Wildlife Trust believes the Scottish Government can show their commitment to the National Peatland Plan by rejecting this appeal. Scottish Planning Policy is very clear that commercial peat extraction should only occur on sites where restoration is impossible, and this is not the case here – if adequate investment was made at Mossmorran, this could be a fully functional bog habitat once again.
“Peat takes an extraordinary amount of time to form – roughly one millimetre per year – and in the case of Mossmorran, we would have seen 1.2 metres of peat extracted. To put this into context, this peat began forming when the Vikings first arrived in Scotland 1,200 years ago.
“Across Scotland, lowland bogs need protecting and restoring. Many peatlands are in a damaged condition or have been completely destroyed. This site could now be restored to a rich habitat with peat-specialist plants such as cranberry and sundew and other wildlife such as breeding snipe and wintering merlins.
“The Scottish Wildlife Trust firmly believes that we need to start placing more value on Scotland’s peatlands and stop the archaic practice of digging them up for horticulture.”