Farming entrepreneur lobbies for wind energy

Aberdeenshire farmer and agri-businessman Maitland Mackie has lobbied Scottish Parliament members, councillors and planners to make the case for on-shore wind energy.

Mr Mackie, who has installed three wind turbines on the family farm of Westertown, Rothienorman, says on-shore wind is the cheapest alternative to fossil fuel-based energy and is the best way of meeting the Scottish Government‘s ambitious energy targets.

He says many of the arguments put forward by critics of wind energy are nimbyism and also accuses local authorities of pandering to critics, delaying planning applications.

He wants planning applications to be fast-tracked and says local consortia can help communities share in the revenue from wind energy, rather than it going to City-based financial institutions. Public sector bodies with large tracts of land, such as the Forestry Commission, Crown Estates and the National Trust for Scotland, should be urged to let out potential sites to small, independent energy developers and local communities.

Mr Mackie estimates up to £1bn a year will be taken out of the Scottish economy by national and international conglomerates from existing and planned land-based wind energy developments. He also accused the Forestry Commission of a “colossal and unnecessary give-away” of a potential annual income of £300m by giving four international companies the right to develop wind energy on commission land.

He criticises the Feed-in Tariff subsidy for encouraging the installation of inefficient “toy” turbines rather than encouraging larger, more efficient development.

He suggests the Scottish Government should set a 10-year target of 3,000MW capacity wind turbine installations across Scotland owned by local entrepreneurs and local communities to add 3GW to Scotland’s current 10GW generating capacity. This, he says, would also reduce CO2 production by 15m tonnes – more than a third of Scotland’s 2020 carbon reduction target of 44m tonnes.

Based on his own experience, Mr Mackie estimates a £3.6m investment in a 3MW capacity wind turbine will yield an annual income of £417,600, based on 30% efficiency, a 20% investment by shareholders and 80% borrowed, and an interest rate on borrowings of 10%. This represents a 48% return on shareholders’ funds.