UK’s biggest ever windfarm to be situated outside Glasgow

ScottishPower has unveiled plans to build the UK’s biggest windfarm - generating enough electricity to power 150,000 homes - on moors about 10 miles south of Glasgow.

The £150 million project, comprising around 140 turbines with a capacity of 240 MW, would be sited on hills at Whitelee Forest, part of Eaglesham Moor. It is the latest phase of a plan to install some 400MW of windpower in Scotland over the next few years, making ScottishPower by far the UK’s biggest windfarm operator, the company says.

Full planning consultation for Whitelee is now underway and, if approved, the windfarm would meet nearly one third of the Government’s renewable energy targets for Scotland.

During the two-year construction period there will be around 300 local jobs created with some £12 million in construction contracts available. Local companies will be encouraged to tender for these contracts. The Vestas windfarm construction plant in Kintyre is also likely to benefit from manufacturing contracts, says ScottishPower.

Whitelee was selected following an exhaustive process to identify the most promising windfarm sites in Scotland based on a range of environmental, social demographic and technical criteria. It will cut annual emissions of CO2 by around 500,000 tonnes and significantly help the UK meet its target of generating at least 10% of its power from renewable sources by 2010.

The Scottish Executive is aware of the proposal and consultations with the local communities will start next week. A full environmental assessment should be complete by this autumn. Local planning authorities will then scrutinise the project. If approved, the windfarm could begin operations by 2003.

ScottishPower is also working closely with landowners West of Scotland Water and Forest Enterprise to improve the area as a community resource with the addition of a visitor centre, and greater public access through provision of footpaths and cycle-ways, it says. A new area of moorland will be created and remaining forest restructured to create a greater diversity of wildlife and habitats. The changes will also allow timber operations to continue in parallel with the windfarm project.

“We are expanding our windfarm business throughout the UK and are on target to meet government requirements to provide 10% of our generation from renewable sources,” commented ScottishPower executive director Ken Vowles. “New renewable generation is a valuable addition to our existing portfolio and will help provide the flexibility crucial for commercial success under the new trading arrangements.”

“We welcome wind farm proposals which provide energy close to the point of use, and we are also pleased that this proposal allows for full community consultation,” commented Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Chief Executive.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, another one of the environmental bodies consulted during the planning process, also backed the project. “We support the expansion of renewable energy generation in Scotland and have been pleased to advise ScottishPower on locational issues to avoid damaging key wildlife sites,” said Stuart Housden, RSPB Director Scotland.

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