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Carbon and peatland 2016 map

The Carbon and Peatland map 2016 is now available for download as a GIS shape file from the NaturalSpaces external site   section of the SNHi Information Service (renewable category).

What the map is

A high-level planning tool to promote consistency and clarity in the preparation of spatial frameworks by planning authorities.

The map is a predictive tool which provides an indication of the likely presence of peat on each individually-mapped area, at a coarse scale. The types of peat shown on the map are:

  • Carbon-rich soils
  • Deep peat
  • Priority peatland habitat

These are now available for the first time in a consolidated spatial dataset. Development Plans are expected to include wind farm spatial frameworks (paragraph 161 in Scottish Planning Policy) - these should be informed by the Carbon and Peatland 2016 map (it maps the carbon-rich soils, deep peat and priority peatland habitat listed in Table 1 in Scottish Planning Policy).

Spatial frameworks can provide more than just an initial steer in the development plan. They can help to inform the scoping stage of an EIA and provide a framework for site selection, environmental assessment and decision-making.

What the map shows

The map shows the areas of peat referred to in Table 1 in SPP - carbon-rich soil, deep peat and priority peatland habitat. On the map, the top two classes (1 and 2) taken together identify the nationally-important resource:

Class 1

  • Nationally important carbon-rich soils, deep peat and priority peatland habitat *
  • Areas likely to be of high conservation value

Class 2

  • Nationally important carbon-rich soils, deep peat and priority peatland habitat
  • Areas of potentially high conservation value and restoration potential

* Priority peatland habitat is land covered by peat-forming vegetation or vegetation associated with peat formation.

How the map will be used

The purpose of the map is to inform the preparation by planning authorities of spatial frameworks for onshore wind. It has been created to help provide a consistent approach across Scotland.

The map provides planning authorities with the information they need to implement SPP. SPP requires PAs to develop spatial frameworks for onshore wind - and Table 1 in SPP sets out what should be shown in these spatial frameworks. Alongside other areas to be included, planning authorities are required to include carbon-rich soils, deep peat and priority peatland habitat - and to afford these areas significant protection, although this is not a ban on development.

Although the map can only indicate that carbon-rich soils, deep peat and priority peatland habitat are likely to be present, it will be helpful in the initial site selection process undertaken by developers.

The map should not be used in development management decision-making. A detailed site survey and EIA will be required.

SNH's guidance on spatial planning emphasises:

'The location of a proposal in the mapped area does not, in itself, mean that the proposal is unacceptable, or that carbon rich soils, deep peat and priority peatland habitat will be adversely affected. The quality of peatland tends to be highly variable across an application site and a detailed assessment is required to identify the actual effects of the proposal.'

Spatial Planning for Onshore Wind Turbines - natural heritage considerations  PDF document , SNH June 2015

Further guidance and advice

The map should be used in conjunction with Scottish Natural Heritage guidance on Spatial Planning for Onshore Wind Turbines - natural heritage considerations.

The guidance covers three main areas:

  • Part 1 Development Planning: provides advice for planning authorities on the preparation of the spatial framework and sources of spatial data relevant to issues in SPP Table 1.
  • Part 2 Site selection: provides advice to developers on using the wind farm spatial framework at the site-selection stage.
  • Part 3 Development Management: provides advice on the natural heritage considerations set out in paragraph 169 of SPP. It includes advice on development plan policies and on scoping an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

updated 29 June 2016