WASTED WETLANDS: Are renewables on peatlands causing more harm than good?
29 Backers raised €1655 of €1655

Wind energy is Ireland’s main renewable source but the location of farms on peatlands - a key carbon sink - is causing concern among scientists and nature groups.

Though this investigation wasn't fully funded (€1,655 of the proposed €3,785), we received support from Journalismfund Europe's Earth Investigations Programme which enabled our team to examine the State's failure to tackle commercial exploitation of Ireland's wetlands.

As part of our WASTED WETLANDS cross-border investigation with German and Italian reporters, we dug into the rehabilitation of peatlands. This included initially examining many of the issues outlined in this proposal, and ultimately resulted in an article focusing on one potential wind farm site in the Midlands. We also exposed how some of Ireland's cleanest rivers and streams are at risk from forestry plantations.

The project title was originally CAUTION TO THE WIND but was renamed before publication to match the wider cross-border series.

Ireland has Europe’s largest concentration of wind farms on blanket bog, with almost 10% of all turbines installed since 2008 placed on blanket bogs, mainly in the western uplands.

While wind has a key role to play in the State’s shift away from fossil fuels, peat soils must be drained for new roads and foundations, and peat is also excavated to make way for the turbine bases. This leads to the release of carbon dioxide and degradation of nature habitats.

While it is argued the overall footprint is offset by the renewable energy produced, Irish and international peatland experts have questioned the carbon payback potential.

Impacts on peatlands have already gained national attention with the most high profile, the Derrybrien peat slide in 2003, causing serious environmental, climate and infrastructural damage. Since then, several peat slides linked to wind farm developments have occurred.

Conservation groups have also voiced concern over the impact on protected bird species from the building of wind farms on raised bogs in the Midlands.


We want to build a detailed profile of wind farms on peatlands across Ireland, investigate impacts during construction, examine expert and local concerns and find out how industry has responded.

We will also speak to peatland and energy experts to determine if wind farms on peatland in pursuit of a green energy transition is undermining climate and biodiversity targets.

If you want to make a contribution to help this investigation happen, click the 'Fund This Proposal' button. Noteworthy investigations are sourced from and crowdfunded by the public.

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29 Backers raised €1655 of €1655
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