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Race for green energy damaging our marine ecosystem

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead described the seas around Scotland as a "hotbed of biodiversity" following the discovery of a massive shellfish reef in Loch Alsh, near the coast of Skye ("Excitement over shellfish reef discovery", The Herald, December 27).

Sadly, this hotbed of diversity will be wrecked by Mr Lochhead's SNP Government in its mad dash to surround Scotland's coasts with offshore wind turbines and wave and tidal energy machines.

The shellfish reef near Skye bears witness to the richness of our marine ecosystems in Scottish waters. But this fragile environment will be devastated by the construction of giant industrial offshore renewables. Kelp forests, seagrass meadows and maerl beds, which are particularly common in shallow waters around the west of Scotland, will be most at risk; yet these are natural carbon capture and storage mechanisms, known as blue carbon sinks.

Some 93% of the earth's CO2 is stored and cycled through the oceans and Scotland's blue carbon sinks play a vital role in this process. Keeping them in good shape is one of the most important things we can do to keep climate change under control. Tearing up our blue carbon sinks to build useless and costly renewable energy machines is counter-productive and will lead to the release of millions of tonnes of stored CO2 into the atmosphere.

Preserving and restoring coastal and marine ecosystems should be the SNP Government's priority. Its mad dash for wind, wave and tidal energy is a cost to the environment, rather than a benefit.

Struan Stevenson MEP,

President of the Climate Change, Biodiversity & Sustainable Development Intergroup, The European Parliament,

Rue Wiertz, Brussels.

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