Work begins near Glasgow on biggest windfarm in Europe

A A A

After a five year-battle for planning approval, developers have started work on Europe's biggest onshore wind farm - a 140-turbine creation at the heart of Scotland's drive to become the "Saudi Arabia" of renewable energy.

The 140 turbines of the £300m Whitelee wind farm, which will be built in moorland and forest near East Kilbride, south of Glasgow, will provide enough electricity to power 200,000 homes. Though the prospect of generating 322 megawatts of energy - enough to power all of Glasgow - has seen off concerns about environmental impact, supporters of onshore wind energy in the UK admit that a project of its ilk may never secure planning permission again.

Whitelee will supply one-eighth of the capacity needed to meet the Scottish Executive's ambitious target of generating 40 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Westminster has been less ambitious about renewable targets, setting a 10 per cent UK target for 2020, towards which Whitelee will also contribute 2.4 per cent of the capacity. The station's developer, Scottish Power, estimates that it will also prevent the emission of 650,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

The Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling said Scotland had long been the UK's "powerhouse" and was establishing itself as the vanguard on renewables. Around 16 per cent of Scotland's electricity already comes from these sources, compared to 4 per cent for the UK as a whole.

Plans for Whitelee have not progressed smoothly. Officials at Glasgow Aiport initially opposed the project because of concerns that the spinning rotors might confuse the airport's radar. As a result of the objection, Scottish Power agreed to build a £5m radar installation 30 miles away in Kincardine, on the site of a former power station. Scottish National Heritage also expressed concerns about the potential impact on black grouse and liverwort populations. Other groups were unhappy about the site's visibility: it can be seen from a distance of 10 miles.

But the Scottish Executive's faith in such projects is enabling the nation's developers to succeed where English wind farm developers, in areas such as Cumbria where the 27-turbine Whinnash scheme was rejected seven months ago, have failed. Whitelee will take three years to complete and will be three times the size of the UK's current biggest wind farm, at Blacklaw in South Lanarkshire.

The start of work at Whitelee coincides with a new period of Government consultation over which renewable emergy forms should be used to enable the UK to hit its 20 per cent target. Mr Darling launched the consultation process at Whitelee, where he underlined the fact that more energy would have to come from wind, wave, tidal and biomass technologies.

Scottish Power has voiced fears that funding for onshore schemes, unpopular among some environmentalists, may be reduced at the expense of untested forms of renewable energy, such as marine or solar power. The British Wind Energy Association estimates that the UK's potential offshore resource amounts to three times the annual UK energy consumption.

Wind farms

By Ian Herbert and Stephen Habberley

* Whitelee might be big but it's nothing compared with the next wind power giant Scotland is planning near Stornoway on the island of Lewis. This would be the world's largest farm with 200 wind turbines, each 120m tall. The electricity generated would be "exported" via a 350-mile under-sea cable.

There are also plans for a London Array farm in the Thames estuary: 1,000 megawatts of electricity from 270 turbines, powering 750,000 homes.

The Danes lead the European industry, though their farms are more modest than those in Scotland. The biggest is Horns Rev, near Jutland, with 80 turbines supplying enough power for 150,000 homes.

Britain's biggest wind farm before Whitelee is Hadyard Hill, in South Ayrshire, with enough output to supply 60,000 homes. England's largest is in Barrow (30 turbines) generating enough energy for 50,000 homes.

News
FIFA President Sepp Blatter reacts during a news conference in Zurich June 1, 2011
news
News
people
Life and Style
food + drink
News
peopleKatie Hopkins criticises River Island's 'seize the day' bags for trying to normalise epilepsy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£30 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL) i...

Guru Careers: Account Executive

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive is needed to join one...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Software Engineer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Software Engineer i...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

Hanging with the Hoff

Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith
Can Dubai's Design District 'hipster village' attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?

Hipsters of Arabia

Can Dubai’s ‘creative village’ attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?
The cult of Roger Federer: What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?

The cult of Roger Federer

What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?
Kuala Lumpur's street food: Not a 'scene', more a way of life

Malaysian munchies

With new flights, the amazing street food of Kuala Lumpur just got more accessible
10 best festival beauty

Mud guards: 10 best festival beauty

Whether you're off to the Isle of Wight, Glastonbury or a local music event, we've found the products to help you
Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe

A Different League

Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe, says Pete Jenson
Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey - Steve Bunce

Steve Bunce on Boxing

Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey