Scotland’s wealthiest private landowners are on course to earn around £1 billion in rental fees from wind farm companies, according to a book published yesterday by a senior Tory politician.
Struan Stevenson, a Conservative MEP, estimated the sum will be paid over the next eight years to at least a dozen landowners willing to allow turbines on their estates and farms.
He suggested the wealthiest Scots are benefiting from the spread of wind farms at the expense of consumers, who have to heavily subsidise the technology in their energy bills.
Among the landowners named in the book is the Duke of Roxburghe, who, he estimated, could earn £1.5 million a year from turbines erected in the Lammermuir Hills.
Titled So Much Wind – The Myth of Green Energy, the book also claims that the spread of wind farms is leading to a new wave of Clearances as families are forced to move away by the construction of industrial turbines.
It was published as MSPs debated Alex Salmond’s plan to generate the equivalent of all Scotland’s electricity from renewable sources by the end of the decade.
Mr Stevenson estimated that the target would require the construction of around 5,000 wind farms in Scotland of which around 1,900 have already been built.
“We’re seeing in Scotland the biggest transfer of money from the poor to the rich that we’ve ever seen in our history,” he told a press conference in Edinburgh.
“In parts of the Highlands now tourism is being effectively destroyed and people are leaving the Highlands because tourists no longer want to go there with the landscape bristling with wind factories and industrial wind turbines.
“It’s a catastrophic policy that could lead to the lights going out in Scotland and power cuts in the years ahead. It’s time this was exposed.”
His book argued that “money is the driver” behind landowners’ willingness to allow the construction of wind farms on their estates and farms.
“Rental payments vary and are top secret but it is estimated that a dozen or more of Scotland’s wealthiest private landowners will pocket around £1 billion in rental fees over the next eight years,” he wrote.
Mr Stevenson estimated the Duke of Roxburghe’s income based on 48 120-metre high turbines at Fallago Rig in the Lammermuir Hills.
He wrote that Sir Alastair Gordon-Cumming, a seventh baronet, could be earning £435,000 a year for allowing 29 turbines on his Altyre Estate near Forres in Moray.
Meanwhile, he estimated the Earl of Seafield could get £120,000 a year from eight turbines on his estate near Banff.
The Earl of Moray is estimated to receive around £2 million annually in rent for 49 turbines at Braes O’Doune, which Mr Stevenson wrote are “clearly visible from the iconic Stirling Castle”.
The Earl of Glasgow, a Liberal Democrat peer, has 14 turbines on his Kelburn estate in Ayrshire that could generate £300,000 of income per year.
Mr Stevenson highlighted how the Crown Estate, will controls large tracts of land and the seabed around Scotland, is on course to net billions of pounds from offshore wind farms. The revenue will be split between the Treasury and the Queen.
The Tory MEP argued wind farms are extremely inefficient and erratic, saying National Grid figures showed they produced only 0.1 per cent of the UK’s electricity needs on Tuesday morning this week.
In a debate at Holyrood, opposition MSPs complained about SNP ministers overturning local planning authorities’ decisions to reject wind farm applications.
However, Fergus Ewing, the Scottish Energy Minister, insisted he would only approve “the right developments in the right places”.
Scottish Land and Estates, the body that represents landowners, and the Roxburghe Estate declined to comment on Mr Stevenson’s claims.
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