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Wednesday, 1 August, 2001, 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK
Plans unveiled for massive windfarm
ScottishPower want to build the UK's largest windfarm
ScottishPower has unveiled plans to build the UK's biggest windfarm on moors 10 miles south of Glasgow.

The 150m project proposes to construct about 140 turbines on hills at Whitelee Forest, on Eaglesham Moor.

The company said an estimated 300 jobs would be created during the construction phase and the finished windfarm would be capable of generating enough electricity to power 150,000 homes.

Norman Gibson
Norman Gibson: "Shock and horror"
However, there has been outrage from local residents, with fears of lightning strikes and pollution.

Norman Gibson, whose home will overlook the windfarm, said: "This is a magnet for the wrong type of electricty, there will be many forest fires from this and grass fires, there will be noise, pollution and shadowing.

"People have reacted with shock and horror. Although this has been going on for the last two years, no one has contacted us.

"But we now see the ScottishPower media roadshow kick in."

Nevertheless, the plan is being backed by environmental and conservation groups who insist it will have a minimum effect on the surrounding area.

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

Kevin Dunion, Friends of the Earth Scotland
ScottishPower said that Whitelee was selected for the site of the new windfarm based on a range of environmental, social demographic and technical criteria.

The company estimates that the windfarm would cut annual emissions of carbon dioxide by about 500,000 tonnes and meet nearly one third of the government's renewable energy targets for Scotland.

It also said that 12m in construction contracts would be open for tender to local companies helping to create 300 jobs.

But before the company can proceed it has to gain planning permission and overcome any objections from the nearby communities.

The Scottish Executive is aware of the proposals and ScottishPower plans to press ahead on consultation with local people next week.

Green benefits

The company said it would complete a full environmental assessment by autumn and put the proposals before local planning authorities.

If they are approved the windfarm could begin operations by 2003.

ScottishPower executive director, Ken Vowles, said the company was "on target to meet government requirements to provide 10% of our generation from renewable sources".

power plant
The windfarm could supply 150,000 homes
The perceived green benefits of the scheme, however, have won it backing from environmental and conservation groups who were consulted during the planning process.

Kevin Dunion, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "We welcome windfarm proposals which provide energy close to the point of use, and we are also pleased that this proposal allows for full community consultation."

Stuart Housden, Scottish director of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said: "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."

ScottishPower said it would be working with landowners West of Scotland Water and Forest Enterprise to make a number of environmental improvements if the windfarm was approved.

These include the addition of a visitor centre, and greater public access through provision of footpaths and cycle-ways.

A new area of moorland will be also be created and remaining forest restructured to create a greater diversity of wildlife and habitats.

BBC Scotland's Aileen Clarke reports
"The turbines would produce enough electricity to power a town the size of Paisley"
The BBC's Mike Johnson
"Britain's record in haressing reusable energy is not good"
Norman Gibson, Eaglesham resident
"We will be completely surrounded by these wind turbines"
See also:

30 Nov 00 | Scotland
Executive pledge on green energy
28 Mar 00 | Sci/Tech
UK lags on riding 'green wave'
01 Nov 99 | Scotland
Producing energy out of thin air
24 May 99 | Sci/Tech
Power firm offers eagles 2m home
02 Sep 98 | Sci/Tech
Changes in the wind
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