Highland Council recognises need for Green Recovery, yet permits peatland destruction

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Margaret Davidson, said: “Whilst the COVID-19 emergency came out of the blue, the climate and ecological emergency hasn’t, and as a Council we are already taking action and investing in our climate change commitments.  However, we also recognise the pressing need to take the learnings and positive outcomes from the pandemic, such as reduced travel, working from home and the increasing interest in local food growing and production, and use this to re-shape how we operate as a Council going forward.”

She added: “The pandemic has given the people of Highland an opportunity to reflect on what’s really important, which is ultimately our health and wellbeing, and it is incumbent on us to ensure that we embed this within a green economic recovery that works to the benefit of both the people of Highland, and the planet.”

The Chair of the Council’s Economy & Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Trish Robertson said: “The response from the public, Highland businesses and Council staff to the pandemic has been exceptional and shows what can be achieved in an emergency.  We must now secure and embed positive change across business, communities and individuals to achieve our net zero ambitions.”

Read the full statement here.

However, Highland Council recently gave the go-ahead to Space Hub Sutherland for a rocket launch facility on 800 acres of the Flow Country on the A’Mhòine Peninsula. This risks increasing greenhouse gas emissions through release of stored carbon from blanket bog and the rocket launches themselves. The planners’ decision (20/00616/FUL) is hereClick here to sign a petition calling on the Scottish Government to refuse planning permission.

Furthermore, in November last year, Highland Council gave the go-ahead to a planning application for the removal of 10,000-20,000 tonnes of peat annually at Moy Moss, near Inverness for a period of 10 years.

Highland Council’s support for peat-damaging activities flies in the face of the Scottish government’s commitment to spend £20 million on restoring peatland this year, and investing another £250 million in restoration over the next ten years.  Public finance minister Kate Forbes highlighted “funding for peatland restoration” as one of the key ways in which the budget would “help us deliver the transformation we need across society to transition to net-zero.”