Page last updated at 12:00 GMT, Monday, 21 September 2009 13:00 UK

Wind farm education centre opens

Whitelee visitor centre
Visitors will learn how the 140 turbines at Whitelee work

A £2m visitor centre giving the public access to Europe's largest onshore wind farm has been officially opened.

Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy MP toured the centre at the Whitelee wind farm on Eaglesham Moor.

The state-of-the-art sustainable wooden structure is located on a ridge overlooking the 140 giant wind turbines operated by ScottishPower Renewables.

It is powered by electricity generated on-site and takes its water supply from specially created boreholes.

First Minister Alex Salmond officially switched on the turbines at Whitelee in May.

We will encourage schools and community groups to visit, with specially trained educational staff there to ensure a hands-on learning experience
Keith Anderson
ScottishPower Renewables

He also confirmed plans for a further 36 turbines on the site.

The visitor centre, managed by the Glasgow Science Centre, aims to encourage people to learn more about renewable energy and the technology behind wind farms.

A network of paths will also be opened to the public in a bid to attract cyclists, ramblers and horse riders to take advantage of the site.

Keith Anderson, managing director of ScottishPower Renewables, said: "This is the first visitor centre of its kind in Scotland and we were keen to include practical educational features to help inspire younger generations.

Whitelee wind farm
Visitors will be able to view the 140 turbines in action from the centre

"We will encourage schools and community groups to visit, with specially trained educational staff there to ensure a hands-on learning experience."

He added: "We are also hopeful that the centre will be used by visitors who want to take advantage of the recreational side of the wind farm, and also those who just want to take-in the views and observe the wildlife."

Mr Murphy said: "The centre is a winning combination of education and energy.

"It shows us all how we can all be more energy efficient and reduce our carbon footprint.

"I hope it will fire up the interest of young Scots in a rapidly expanding industry - which is both crucial for our future economic prosperity and opens up so many careers options."



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