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Share the wind billions

BLIND DEVOTION to the old structure of the energy business is gifting the cream of Scotland's renewables revolution to multinational companies – and leaving farmers, landowners and their communities getting paid 'peanuts'.

Aberdeenshire farming entrepreneur, ice cream magnate and former NFU Scotland vice president Maitland Mackie this week implored the devolved SNP government to ease the planning regulations stopping Scotland's people from getting their fair share of green energy income.

In an open letter to Scotland's Minister for Energy Fergus Ewing, Dr Mackie warned that as much as £1 billion of income was being siphoned out of Scotland's wind energy sector because the system made it easier for multinationals to get planning permission for big windfarms.

Mr Mackie has long been an advocate of 'decentralised' ownership of green energy – putting windpower incomes into many local pockets, rather than a few distant ones – and reckons that Mr Ewing is in a strong position to make that happen, if he can think beyond conventional energy industry structures.

"The policy being adopted by the government is starting to deliver billions of pounds of Scotland's potential renewable energy revenues to foreign investors, miserably missing the revolutionary opportunity to democratise and decentralise the ownership and delivery of our renewable energy potential," said Dr Mackie, who has three wind turbines of his own on the family farm at Westertown, Rothienorman, providing energy for the farm and Mackies ice cream factory, and selling a surplus into the national grid.

Dr Mackie reckons that all of the world's energy is likely to come from renewables in the future, and that now is the time to set a pattern of distributed ownership.

"There is no reason, other than blind conventional political wisdom, that the means of producing this energy cannot be owned by millions of people around the world and not just international companies," he insisted. "Government polices need to aid this revolution and not hinder it. This simply means supporting and encouraging the many to take full ownership of their local renewable energy potential and its immediate downstream activity."

Right now in Scotland, Dr Mackie reckoned there was around 2.5GW of renewable energy in the pipeline, mostly in wind power, and estimated that 80% of that is owned by major international energy companies.

"This means four-fifths of the potential revenue, about a billion pounds a year and equivalent to the total consumer subsidies supporting renewable energy, will go for ever to these foreign investors and is being milked off Scotland's wind energy potential," he said.

Scottish politicians, he said, needed an urgent rethink of their renewable energy policy – and Mr Ewing was in a position to take a leading role in that.

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