FARMERS and rural landowners are being discouraged from developing small-scale wind projects because of the "tortuous" and expensive planning system, according to a leading businessman.
Maitland Mackie, chairman of Mackies of Scotland, says developing renewables could generate more than 1 billion annually for the rural sector within ten to 12 years.
However, many site owners are unwilling to risk investment and instead settle for taking rental payments from developers, he believes.
Mr Mackie wants the Scottish Government to establish a 10 million start-up fund to help launch projects, and a development and installation team to advise on projects. He wants to see more than 3,000 3MW projects across Scotland eventually, with the profits staying in rural areas.
He will outline his vision, which has been put to the government's Community Renewables Implementation Group (CRIG), at the inaugural Scottish Highland Renewable Energy Conference hosted by Harper Macleod in Inverness today.
Mr Mackie said onshore wind turbines are an important part of bridging the looming energy gap and they are much more acceptable if ownership is local and widespread.
He said it can cost 100,000-500,000 to go through the planning system. Faced with possibly losing that amount if permission is not granted, many would-be investors end up taking a rental payment of 15,000-25,000 a year while the developer makes substantially more.