FEW would disagree that wind turbines have a significant role to play in powering Scotland’s future.

The country has long been at the forefront of the UK’s green energy efforts, setting ambitious greenhouse targets, leading the way on cleaner technologies and wind farms have been central to this. Indeed, existing turbines currently produce enough energy to generate 98 per cent of the country’s electricity demand.

Turbines are due to be “supersized” in the coming years, as the current windmills reach the end of their operational lives, rising in stature from 100m to 170m so they can harness “better” wind, contributing more to the grid and helping cut consumer bills.

But what if they also reduced the natural, emission-lowering carbons in the ancient peatlands in which so many of them are built? According to a report funded by the Scottish Government, this is a possibility.

In the most detailed assessment of replacing current wind farms to date, report authors concluded there was insufficient evidence to infer wind turbines do not damage the capacity of peatlands to store carbon.

As well as suggesting upgrading work should therefore start on turbines not build on peatland, the scientists also said the foundations of new , bigger turbines ought to be built from scratch, since adding to existing structures was more expensive and potentially damaging to the environment.

Anti-wind farm campaigners Scotland Against Spin said the report raised big questions about the carbon balance and called for upgrade plans to be halted. The Scottish Government, meanwhile, support supersizing, and have sought to reassure critics by vowing to assess and minimise any impact on peatlands.

Whether this will be enough action remains to be seen. After all, it would be horribly ironic if the turbines producing our clean energy were harming the ancient, iconic environment in which they stand, reducing its ability to lower emissions. It would also be unacceptable.