Rural groups offered cream of wind power

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ICE CREAM mogul Maitland Mackie is to appoint a chief executive and board early next year for his new venture, a renewable power company, to develop his dream of generating billions of pounds for the rural economy.Mackie, chairman of family business Mackie’s of Scotland, said he is on the way to raising £10m from small investors willing to put between £1,000 and £20,000 into the company, Rural Sector Wingen.

He has placed an upper limit on the amount an in dividual can invest to ensure nobody has too much control over how the company is run.

Mackie plans to build 30,000 three-megawatt wind turbines across the UK to power a large area of the country and generate £15bn in annual profits. The company will be run as a collective commercial initiative owned by individuals and communities in the rural sector.

Around 500 small investors, including many farmers, have registered and could put around £1.5m into Wingen. A January 31 deadline has been set to reach £10m to allow the project to continue.

Mackie is meeting with the Scottish Government to promote the benefits of the scheme for the economy and environment. He will name a selection of investors as company ambassadors in January to sell the concept to rural sector associations, such as the Forestry Commission, and major landowners.

Mackie said he knows how effective wind-generated power can be as he already has three turbines on his Aberdeenshire farm which supply energy to his ice-cream business. He has invested more than £2m in the turbines.

Mackie’s uses about 40% of the output and sells the excess to Good Energy, a renewable power supplier. He has named the turbines Margaret, Matilda and Mirabel and plans to give every turbine established by Wingen a woman’s name, just as he names the cows on his farm.

He said corporates, including ScottishPower, are trying to buy up farmland for their turbines, which means the rural economy is handing over potential long-term income. He has calculated that each investor in Wingen can make annual profits of £523,600 at current prices after maintenance, interest payments and depreciation.

Mackie said: “There are big potential returns to be made on wind power and it is being taken away from the rural sector which owns the land by corporates and national firms which are hoovering up. Wingen will be majority-owned by small investors and will operate in a similar way to John Lewis’s share scheme.”

He admitted that planning permission and limited grid capacity would be the two key stumbling blocks, but expected to gain more community support than corporates received

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