A land development company stands to rake in up to £30 million in public money every year if its plans to dot 250 individual wind turbines across Scotland are approved.
Intelligent Land Investment (ILI) is in the process of lodging its final planning applications for its project that takes advantage of generous subsidy payments usually set aside for small-scale renewable schemes.
The firm, based in Hamilton, has claimed planning consent for the individual turbines will be achieved “within months, rather than years” given the size of turbines being proposed require less scrutiny than those used in industrial wind farms.
Claims made by some residents in Argyll that what the developers are doing is “subsidy chasing” have been refuted by the firm.
But concern has been raised by Labour MSP Graeme Pearson over the level of public money that could be paid out to such developments under the Feed-In-Tariff (FiT) mechanism which was devised to promote non-com-mercial green energy production at homes, schools, farms and industrial sites.
Mr Pearson said: “This reflects that kind of venture capital opportunity where significant returns are being achieved at public expense. It is a good example of some of the issues that concern me about renewables.”
On the question of a total subsidy figure, Mark Wilson, of ILI, said not all wind turbines would gain planning permission and each turbine would produce a different level of electricity given its location.
However, calculations show each 225-kilowatt turbine proposed would generate around £86,231 a year in subsidy, based on the assumption it would produce electricity at 25% of its capacity. The 500kw turbines would generate around £190,000 under the FiT scheme.
ILI, which is one of a number of companies using the FiT mechanism, wants to build 175 smaller turbines and 75 of the larger models. Landowners will be paid around £20,000 to have the equipment on their property with ILI’s development partners pocketing the lion’s share of the subsidy.
Mr Wilson said the turbines will create jobs and generate vital income for farmers and rural economies which have struggled to prosper in recent times.
Argyll and Bute Council is cur-rently dealing with 26 separate applications from ILI with councillors recently receiving a briefing on the influx of applications. A spokeswoman said the overall cumulative impact of the individual turbines would be considered by planners and the turbines would not be considered on a stand-alone basis. It has also been indicated the rural location for some of the turbines would make transmission of electricity to the National Grid problematic.
Mr Wilson said the wind tur-bine drive was to “create an addi- tional and long-term cast stream for the farmer”. “What we have been able to offer them is a way to make a turbine work for them without any of the risk or outlay. We are working with 250 landowners so you have to ask how many people are benefiting.”
The Department of Energy and Climate Change is in the process of reviewing the amounts paid out under the FiT scheme given the high costs of subsidies paid to renewables projects.
Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “Local authorities quite rightly make decisions on individual turbine application on their merits, and only those proposals that meet the necessary criteria are allowed to proceed. Likewise, they will only generate revenues if they can be connected to the Grid.”