Page last updated at 17:12 GMT, Monday, 19 January 2009

Plans to extend biggest wind farm

Wind turbine
The expansion would bring the total number of turbines at Whitelee to 221

Plans for a major expansion of Scotland's largest wind farm development have been unveiled.

Scottish Power Renewables, the company behind the Whitelee wind farm on Eaglesham Moor, wants to build 45 additional turbines.

The aim is to produce 614 megawatts of electricity - enough to power every home in Glasgow.

The extension plans will be presented to local residents at a series of public open days this week.

The Whitelee development is the biggest onshore windfarm in Europe.

In 2006 the Scottish Executive gave the go-ahead for 140 turbines at the site south of East Kilbride, with Scottish Power Renewables applying last April for permission to build an additional 36 turbines.

The company now wants to expand the site even further and said it would submit an application for 45 more turbines, each with three blades and about 140m high, to Scottish ministers in spring or summer 2009.

A spokesman for the Spanish-owned company said: "Extensive investigations have identified Whitelee as an excellent site for the harvesting of renewable energy in terms of technical, planning and environmental criteria.

There is a fear that if developments like Whitelee are allowed to expand then a lot of the hillsides across Scotland will end up covered
Davie Black
Ramblers Scotland

"Wind energy provides us with a clean, safe, sustainable energy source enabling us to reduce these damaging emissions and protect our environment."

Scottish Powers Renewables is carrying out an environmental impact assessment as part of its application to extend the Whitelee development but some environmental groups have already expressed concerns at the scale of the project.

Davie Black of Ramblers Scotland said: "These turbines are so big that they are visible over a very wide area.

"There is a fear that if developments like Whitelee are allowed to expand then a lot of the hillsides across Scotland will end up covered, and you will not be able to get the long open views that you expect in Scotland because of these turbines popping up."

Closing-off

He added: "We are also concerned about the closing-off of large areas of the countryside while these developments are being built.

"Once they open up the public are allowed access but when the original turbines were being constructed at Whitelee they closed off all 55 sq km.

"What we are asking for is planning conditions to ensure that only the small area where work is taking place is closed off temporarily and the rest should remain open."

Members of the public and interested parties will have a chance to raise their concerns and ask the developers questions at two public open days.

They are being held between 1500 and 1900 GMT on Wednesday 21 January at the Newmilns Guide Hall and on Thursday 22 January in Hareshaw Community Education Centre.



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