Research Output
Carbon impact & mitigation of housing developments on peatlands in the UK - A case study
  Peatlands are a key asset in the drive to reduce annual carbon emissions due to their potential as a carbon sink. This is especially important in Scotland where 25% of the land is covered by peat. Peatlands have historically been considered wastelands that needed to be re-used for other more productive purposes. For this reason, circa 78% of UK peatlands are currently in a degraded state. The favoured foundation option for any construction has been to excavate the peat and replace it with a more competent granular soil, but the excavation process risks drying sections of peatlands with the associated detrimental effect on the stored carbon. The purpose of this manuscript is to appraise the environmental impact associated with the construction of the foundation of a proposed development on a peatland. The research focuses on a case study in Bishopbriggs (Glasgow). The results of this study highlight that a positive effect on the overall carbon sink could be achieved if alternative approaches to a total peat removal were explored. The total restoration followed by the partial development of the site are demonstrated to be the best solutions, resulting in a net carbon gain in the long-term. The non-development scenario is shown to be the least environmentally sustainable option in the longer term. This case study highlights the significant contribution that the construction sector currently holds towards the GHG emissions abatement when building on peatlands in the UK.

  • Date:

    25 June 2023

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher


  • DOI:


  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Bernal-Sanchez, J., & Gaspari, A. (2023). Carbon impact & mitigation of housing developments on peatlands in the UK - A case study. In Proceedings of the ISSMGE TC215 9th International Congress on Environmental Geotechnics 25-28 June 2023 (361-371).



Climate change; peat-left-in-place options; peatlands; excavate-and-replace; peat degradation; sustainable foundation options

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