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Pulling the plug on 90 GW nationwide initiative
1 February 2009
The credit crunch and lack of investors have led an entrepreneur to pull the plug on a nationwide initiative to develop up to 90 GW of wind energy by farmers and communities. Maitland Mackie, the chairman of a Scottish ice-cream company, had hoped that 10,000 landowners and farmers would sign up to his Wingen venture. Launched in September, it aimed at keeping the benefits of wind development in the hands of rural communities rather than large scale developers creaming off the profits. But by January only 580 potential participants had registered their interest and registration had reduced to a trickle. "It is thousands we need not hundreds," says Mackie. A big buy-in by the rural sector is crucial to provide sufficient start up funding and political clout, he explains. "Without political clout we cannot have serious input into securing streamlined planning procedures." Moreover, in the current economic crisis, the money investors have available may be less than they originally intended, he adds. Mackie says he had pushed his boat out to bring his unusual venture to reality. "My enthusiasm has not waned, but the practicalities have got in the way." Cash advances from budding investors will be returned, he says. Meantime, he recommends investors and communities still wanting to develop community projects to contact Energy 4 All, a not-for-profit organisation that sets up local co-operatives to own individual wind turbines or stakes in wind farms.
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