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EIA Assessment for Loch Urr Wind Farm Coursework


Carbon Emissions by the Loch Urr Wind Farm

Wind farms are located on the peat lands that usually accommodate huge stocks of improperly protected carbon (Energy sources 2012).

The project, therefore, poses a great threat in the increase of the overall carbon losses. The soil in the Loch Urr has surface organic horizon which is greater than 50 cm in depth (Werner 2010, p. 201). Hence, the project is set to impact carbon emissions to the environment.

The carbon is subjected to loss when constructing wind farm, where carbon is lost from the excavated peat (Shogren 2013, p 214).

Carbon is also lost from the project area due to drainage (Built Environment-Scottish Government 2012). Some of the constructions that lead to carbon emissions include track preparation, construction of the turbine foundations, and transportation of the materials to the project area.

The legislation and policy covers for carbon emissions

In Scotland, there are several policies that have been formulated to govern all projects causing the emission of carbon into the environment.

Some of the governing bodies involved in the implementation of the policies include the Scottish Planning Policy (SPP), The National Planning Framework (NPF), and the local policy. NPF is a national policy providing the principal planning approach for Scotland.

The regulations set by the national government to control the development of projects in Scotland have been outlined in it (Great 2012).

The stipulated laws dictate that require that all the applications of the planning permission must be formulated in consensus with the development arrangement where the exceptions are indicated and directed otherwise (Great 2012).

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is a vital organ that determines and ascertains whether the project developers have accurately outlined the regulations of the carbon losses and savings to reduce the overall emissions.

This policy necessitating the involvement of SEPA is fundamental in ensuring that the project developers do not pollute the environment since they follow procedures directed towards sustainable development (Energy Sources-Scotland n.d.).

The final policy is the European EIA legislation which participates in covering this parameter. The project developers must adhere to the directives set in the various articles within the European EIA legislation (Montini and Bogdanović 2011).

The primary need of this legislation is to protect the environment in accordance to the article five that advocates against release of pollutant gases to the environment (Proposal for a Directive-European Commission- Europa 2012).

Discussion and examples of the baseline data

Even though global warming emissions are not always associated to the functioning of the wind turbines in the farms, there are some cases where these releases arise from different stages in the development of their life cycle (Environmental impacts of wind power n.d.).

Some of the activities that lead to emission of carbon by the wind farm in Loch Urr include material’s production, on-site construction, transportation of materials, projects that involve operations and maintenance, dismantling, and decommissioning (Koeller, Koeppel and Peters 2006, p. 21).

The available data on the level of carbon emissions from the wind farms shows that the power results to insignificant emissions of carbon (Shogren 2013, p. 214). However, arguments have been raised that carbon dioxide takes 72% of the effects on global warming.

A comprehensive cross-examination of the carbon emitted by the wind farm indicates that there is a high percentage of carbon emitted from its activities (Bryce 2011, p. 148).

In this regard, the life cycle of carbon emissions in relation to the on-shore wind generation have been estimated at 10 kg per 1 MWh of the electricity generated (Shogren 2013, p. 214).

This implies that generating electrical energy to serve cities lead to heavy carbon emissions. However, it is anticipated that prior to following the regulations on gas emissions, the releases will reduce by 42% by the year 2020.

Apparently, the investigation of the gas emissions, there remains a gap due to lack of adequate investigation on the release of the non-greenhouse gases during the production process (Lyster 2006). Few developers tend to give estimates of the other percentile gases that the project will emit into the atmosphere.

It has been reported that there are many incidences where the construction of the wind farm contributes to the loss of carbon compared to its saving (Bryce 2011, p. 148). This does not imply that there is no savings made on the carbon from the wind farms (Shogren 2013, p. 214).

The calculation of the carbon emissions that can be attributed to the drainage of peat is obtained from the discharge happening when soil is left in its natural state which is retrieved from the emissions arising from the removal (Transport Scotland n.d.).

It is assumed that the total percent of carbon lost when decommissioning the farms is a hundred percent (Energy sources 2010). It is, therefore, advisable for the project developers of the wind farm to follow the strategies that will emit least carbon to the environment strictly.

Discussion on the type of prediction methods that could be used for the parameter

Prediction would involve the techniques that have been used to forecast the future impacts of the project. There are two types of the prediction methods that can be employed to estimate emissions. These are the extrapolation method and the scenario method.

In the scenario design, the process is a situation based planning process used to order someone’s perception concerning the substitute future environments where the present decisions may play out (Richard 2011, p. 89). The extrapolative methods draw trends on the past and the present data (Morgan 2001, p. 89).

In this process, there are comparisons made concerning the situations as well as the study of direct impacts on several related projects (Richard 2011, p. 89). Using this method may also necessitate primary surveys in order to get information.

The technique will involve visiting Loch Urr area to examine the soil condition and then make comparisons with the other related projects situated under similar soil conditions.

The other important method that can be used is the normative methods. This works by assessing the project’s environmental context and its potential to achieve the desired outcomes (Richard 2011). In Loch Urr, the desired direct impact of the carbon emission is the change in Europe climate.

Discussion on the possible mitigation measures for the significant impacts on carbon emissions

There are numbers of significant impacts caused by the emission of carbon in Loch Urr. The significant impacts are loss of carbon from the soil and increase in the level of the greenhouse gasses leading to global warming (Dinan 2008, p. 24).

The mitigation measures that can be undertaken to minimize these impacts are as follows:

  • Carbon emitted as a result of transportation- This scan is reduced by the use of the transportation means that may not make many trips to the construction sites (Energy Sources-Scotland n.d.). The mitigation measure will involve the use of bigger carriers that will travel to the construction site a few times compared to the small carriers.
  • During the construction, the constructors should put mechanisms that curb the emission of the carbon into the environment such as burning of the construction materials (Good practice during wind farm construction, 2010).
  • Loss of carbon due to drainage- The project developers should put in place the reinforcement measures such as the stabilization of the hillside through insertion of the elements for the reinforcement in the ground, and the mechanical treatment (Energy Sources-Scotland n.d.).
  • Decrease in the level of carbon in the soil- This can be prevented by the construction of the “floating track”. Floating tracks will ensure that the supporting subsoil and the vegetation in the area remain intact. This measurement may result in the production of less amount of carbon into the environment as compared to when the land was excavated during the construction of roads (Energy Sources-Scotland n.d.).
  • Operational maintenance should also be conducted in the wind farm. The maintenance should be done with care to ensure that little or no carbon is emitted into the air (Energy Sources-Scotland n.d.). Waste management should also be checked to prevent the emission of carbon through unintended ways.

Agencies Involvement

The agencies involved include the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), Directorate for the Built Environment, and Transport Scotland. The SEPA will be involved in the scoping stage. This agency is bound to provide important information on the proposed scheme (Energy Sources-Scotland n.d.).

The directorate of the built environment will also be involved since they are mandated to formulate, implement, and monitor legislation and policies concerning any construction. This agency will be involved before the construction of the floating track.

They will provide important information on the guidelines of how to construct the floating tracks and the rules governing their construction (Transport Scotland n.d.).

This bureau is also concerned with the examination of the development plans in Scotland implying that their involvement throughout the project implementation would be of high impact into the success of the project (Transport Scotland n.d.).

Lastly, the Transport Scotland would be involved through consultation during the construction phase. The agencies would provide very important information based on the impacts of the turbines’ constructions and some of the possible mitigation measures that would be built up by the developers to curb any negative impact of the project (Transport Scotland n.d.).

Use of EIS by competent authorities

The EIS would be presented to the Scottish ministers to help them in determining whether the project is practical or not. They will use this EIS to countercheck the developers’ statements based on the expected emissions and savings.

After the ministers have considered the merits and the demerits of this project, they will be in a position to say whether the project developers should continue with the project or stop its implementation.

The provided impacts on the carbon emissions will guide the Scottish ministers to evaluate whether the developers have set all the mitigation measures to curb the problems that would arise from the impacts.

Otherwise, the government would not be in a position to give any directions concerning the state of the project. Therefore, the concerned authorities should comprehensively examine the EIS.

References

Bryce, R. 2011, Power Hungry the Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future. New York, Public Affairs.

Built Environment-Scottish Government. Web.

Dinan, T. 2008, Policy options for reducing CO₂ emissions, Washington DC, Congressional Budget Office.

. Web.

. Web.

Good practice during wind farm construction, 2010. Web.

Great, B. 2012, . Web.

Koeller, J., Koeppel, J. & Peters, W. 2006, Offshore wind energy research on environmental impacts, New York, Springer.

Lyster, R. 2006, Energy law and the environment, Cambridge, Cambridge Univ. Press.

Montini, M., & Bogdanović, S. 2011, Environmental Security in South-Eastern Europe: International Agreements and their Implementation, Dordrecht, Springer.

Morgan, R. 2001, Environmental impact assessment: a methodological perspective, Kluwer Acad. Publishers, Dordrecht.

Proposal for a Directive-European Commission- Europa 2012. Web.

Shogren, J. 2013, Encyclopedia of energy, natural resource, and environmental economics, Elsevier Science, Amsterdam.

Transport Scotland. Web.

Werner, L. 2010, Soil Carbon Dynamics, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

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