Businessman slams Scottish wind farm policies

One of Scotland’s leading businessmen and a pioneer of wind turbines at his premises has slammed the Scottish government for allowing foreign firms to plan turbines on Forestry Commission land. […]

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By Kelvin Ross

One of Scotland’s leading businessmen and a pioneer of wind turbines at his premises has slammed the Scottish government for allowing foreign firms to plan turbines on Forestry Commission land.

Maitland Mackie is chairman of the ice cream and crisp manufacturer Mackie’s of Scotland. The company wants to be “the greenest in Britain” and installed turbines at its Aberdeenshire farm in 2005.

But in a letter to Scottish Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham, Mr Mackie has accused the Forestry Commission Scotland of “laziness” over its wind farm policies.

He is particularly incensed following the decision by the Forestry Commission Scotland to grant wind exploration licences to foreign-owned ScottishPower, E.ON, Vattenfall and Fred Olsen Renewables.

In his letter, which was seen by Scottish newspaper The Herald, Mr Mackie writes: “The FCS manages 660,000 hectares, including many of the best wind turbine sites in Scotland … [but] wind-power development rights have been signed over to Spanish, German and Norwegian companies.

“Certainly the FCS will have secured substantive rental agreements … [but] these foreign companies will take home at least £30m annual income for every 100 2.5MW turbines installed. The commission must have more than 1000 good sites available, a potential annual income of at least £300m.

“[As around] £290m of that income comes directly from renewables obligation certificate payments funded by Scotland’s electricity consumers, it is extraordinary that a government is comfortable allowing these consumer charges to land directly into the hands of foreign companies.”

He continued: “This does not need to happen. The FC are big boys, with a £1bn asset base, and a built-in business arm. There is no reason whatsoever for not creating a windpower sector within it, capable of developing and owning their own wind-power potential, and doing so with full involvement of the communities local to potential sites. Why they have chickened out beggars belief.”

A spokesman for FCS said: “We firmly believe that the current arrangement we have for wind-energy development allows us, as the land manager, to use private developers’ expertise and capital, while generating market-leading returns for the taxpayer and local communities.”