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Peat firm in fight for extension

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By Fiona Reid
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Peat firm in fight for extension

A BID to continue extracting peat from a site in Beattock for another ten years has met with a raft of national objections.

Everris Ltd are seeking to continue works at Lochwood Moss, south of the village, until 2030.

Peat extraction has taken place over 25 hectares there since the mid 1980s, with the peat used for horticultural/food production purposes. Harvesting is done via surface milling and takes place between April and September.

The original planning permission has now run out and Everris want another decade to reduce the peat surface by a further 1.25 metres, leaving half a metre to help with restoration.

Councillors will discuss their planning application at a meeting next week, but planners are recommending it is refused and say that continuing with extraction would have ‘significant environmental impacts’.

In a report for elected members, case officer Andrew Robinson describes it as ‘unacceptable’ and said: “It would fail to protect and enhance the natural environment, would not reduce carbon emissions and would result in continued extraction at a site where restoration to functioning peatland is possible.”

SEPA have also objected due to the ‘associated negative impact on climate change’ from peat extraction.

And they say extending the extraction period would be contrary to their Climate Change Commitment.

Furthermore, Scottish Natural Heritage has raised concerns and fear it would leave little left of the original bog and restoration of the area afterwards would be slow and difficult.

Their statement adds: “The sooner that extraction ceases and restoration starts, the better the chances are of achieving successful restoration.”

RSPB Scotland is another opponent of the plan, claiming it would result in ‘habitat degradation and release of CO2’.

However, the applicants claim that there is no inevitable release of CO2 into the atmosphere from peat harvesting, especially not in large quantities.

Their agent said: “Peat is a growing media and the carbon that is present is used/transferred into the grown product, e.g. mushrooms, tomatoes.

“The peat extracted at Lochwood Moss is important to the UK food chain.”

And they argue that national policy does support their work, adding: “Scottish planning policy supports peat extraction at Lochwood Moss, as peatland damaged by human activity.

“Lochwood Moss will be restored once peat harvesting has ceased.”

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