Whitelee Wind Farm

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Whitelee Wind Farm
Whitelee with arran in the background.jpg
Whitelee wind farm with the Isle of Arran in the background
Country Scotland
Location Moor Rd, near Eaglesham, East Renfrewshire
Coordinates 55°41′14″N 4°13′43″W / 55.68722°N 4.22861°W / 55.68722; -4.22861Coordinates: 55°41′14″N 4°13′43″W / 55.68722°N 4.22861°W / 55.68722; -4.22861
Status Operational
Commission date May 2009
Owner(s) Scottish Power
Wind farm
Type onshore
Site area 55 km2[1]
Hub height 65m
Rotor diameter 90m
Power generation
Units operational 215
Make and model Siemens Wind Power: Siemens SWT-2.3
Nameplate capacity 539 MW

Whitelee Wind Farm is the largest on-shore wind farm in the United Kingdom (second in Europe to Fântânele-Cogealac, in Romania) with 215 Siemens and Alstom wind turbines and a total capacity of 539 megawatts (MW), with the average of 2.5MW per turbine.[2] Whitelee was developed and is operated by ScottishPower Renewables,[3] which is part of the Spanish company Iberdrola.[4]

The Scottish government had a target of generating 31% of Scotland's electricity from renewable energy by 2011 and 100% by 2020. The majority of this is likely to come from wind power.[5]


Positioned 300 metres (985 feet) above sea level and 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) outside Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, the wind farm has over half a million people living within a 30 km radius. This makes Whitelee one of the first large-scale wind farms to be developed close to a centre of population.[5] In May 2009, Whitelee was officially opened to the public by Alex Salmond MSP, First Minister for Scotland.[6] However, Whitelee was generating power more than a year before this with the first phase of the wind farm supplying power to the electricity grid in January 2008.

In May 2009, the Scottish Government granted permission for an extension to the wind farm to produce up to a further 130 megawatts of power,[7] which would increase the total generating capacity of Whitelee to 452 MW.[8] There is also the potential to increase the generating capacity once again by 140 megawatts. This would give Whitelee the potential to generate almost 600 megawatts of renewable energy.[8]

On 19 March 2010 a blade snapped off a turbine, resulting in temporary suspension of operations until safety checks were completed. Following the accident Keith Anderson, managing director of ScottishPower Renewables, said: "This type of incident is exceptionally rare and highly unusual."[9]

In 2011 Scottish Power Renewables appointed the joint venture of John Sisk and Son Limited and Roadbridge, as the main contractor for an extension to Whitelee. Located to the east of the existing Whitelee Windfarm, the 75 turbine extension was planned to increase the generating capacity of the windfarm to 539MW. Turbine deliveries were planned for July 2011, with the windfarm expected to be complete in May 2012.[10]

Public access and visitor centre

Whitelee has become an eco-tourist attraction aided by an on site visitor centre. The visitor centre is host to an interactive exhibition room, cafe, shop and education hub. It was officially opened to the public in September 2009.[11] The visitor centre also gives access to a network of over 90 km of paths for cyclists, ramblers and horse riders.[12] The visitor centre is managed by Glasgow Science Centre and offers activities for education and community groups.[11] There is also a dedicated - free - electric vehicle charging station.

Whitelee wind farm has a Countryside Ranger Service operated jointly by East Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire councils that works to promote and develop access opportunities for the public within the wind farm and wider area, as well as operating an annual program of free activities and events open to the public. The Whitelee Countryside Ranger Service also works to encourage and assist community and charity organisations to use of access opportunities within the wind farm for fundraising and charity events. The Ranger Service forms part of the Whitelee Access Planning Group which is made up of the wind farm operators, land owners, the three local authorities the wind farm comes within, local community groups and other interested parties to the site.

In January 2014 work began on a purpose built single track mountain bike course at the windfarm, within a hollow created by a former borrow pit that was used to supply stone during construction of the windfarm. This development is being led by East Renfrewshire Council on behalf of the Whitelee Access Planning Group. The track has been designed by Phil Saxena of Architrail Ltd – designer of the 2008 Beijing Olympic and 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games XC courses.

The project has followed strong public demand for more technical MTB facilities at Whitelee. Its setting within the UK’s largest onshore windfarm will make it unique amongst trail centres. The plans will provide graded trails to suit a wide range of users, from beginners to more experienced riders. The course will offer a mix of route options, technical sections and challenges, as well as a large picnic and viewing area, with wet weather shelters for use by families, clubs, schools etc. The facilities will extend across an area of approximately 12 hectares and will be free to use, 7 days a week.

In June 2012, Whitelee wind farm became the first wind energy project in Scotland to join the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions. The management took the decision after nearly 250,000 people had visited the site since its opening since July 2009. ScottishPower Renewables said that nearly 10,000 pupils had so far visited Whitelee on school trips. In addition, at least "another 100,000 people had accessed the wind farm's 90km (56 miles) of trails for recreational purposes such as jogging and cycling".[13]

Lochgoin Farm and Monument

Lochgoin monument and farmhouse

The wind farm area includes Lochgoin Farm, the home of the Howie family which in the 17th century was a noted refuge for Covenanters, and was searched multiple times by government soldiers. In the 18th century John Howie became a biographer who recorded the lives of Covenanting martyrs in books published from 1775 onwards. In 1896 a stone obelisk was erected nearby as a monument "in memory of John Howie, author of the Scots Worthies"; this is accessible by the tracks leading from the visitor centre. A small museum at the farm holds relics of Covenanters, check for opening arrangements.[14][15]


Whitelee Windfarm currently has a 75 turbine extension under construction. This will add an additional 217 MW of capacity, enough to power the equivalent of over 124,000 homes. This will bring the total generating capacity of the wind farm up to 539 MW. Work on this new development commenced in November 2010, with the completion date extended from December 2012 to March 2013. Additionally, the new extension will add a further 44 km of trails to the site. John Sisk and Son Limited and Roadbridge were jointly appointed as Principal Contractors for the site during construction with Alstom Limited erecting and commissioning the wind turbines.[16]

In August 2012 Scottish Power announced that it was applying for a further small extension of five turbines on the west of the existing site, adding 12 MW of capacity.[17] This was refused by the DPEA on 19 Oct 2016. [18]


On 19 March 2010 a blade snapped off a turbine which led to Whitelee wind farm being temporarily shut down while safety checks were completed on all other turbines on the site. [19]

In March 2017 a turbine lost its nose cone, the entire site was closed until such time as the remaining turbines could be checked and tested. [20]

On 29 March 2017 a worker fell from a turbine while it was undergoing maintenance, though that was not linked to his death. The Police are not treating his death as suspicious. [21][22]

See also


  1. ^ http://www.east-ayrshire.gov.uk/CommunityLifeAndLeisure/CountrysideFacilitiesAndWildlife/CountrysideAndLeisure/WhiteleeWindfarm.aspx
  2. ^ http://www.whiteleewindfarm.co.uk/about_windfarm?nav Whitelee Windfarm
  3. ^ http://www.scottishpowerrenewables.com/
  4. ^ http://www.iberdrola.es/
  5. ^ a b Europe's Largest Onshore Wind Farm Is Switched on in Scotland
  6. ^ Whitelee Windfarm Officially Opened http://www.scottishpowerrenewables.com/pages/press_releases.asp?article=47&date_year=2009
  7. ^ Largest wind farm to be expanded. BBC News 20 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-25
  8. ^ a b Iberdrola press release dated 20 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-25
  9. ^ Blade snaps off huge wind turbine. BBC News 23 March 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-23
  10. ^ SPR awards Whitelee Extension Contract [1] Retrieved 2014-01-07
  11. ^ a b BBC News "Wind farm education centre opens" Retrieved 2009-09-21
  12. ^ BBC News "Visitor centre showcases windfarm" Retrieved 2009-08-26
  13. ^ "Whitelee Wind Farm joins major tourist attractions body". BBC News. 20 June 2012. 
  14. ^ "Lochgoin Farmhouse And Monument To John Howie". Canmore. 1956-08-23. Retrieved 2016-11-27. 
  15. ^ "Covenanters". East Renfrewshire Council. Retrieved 2016-11-27. 
  16. ^ "SPR Awards Whitelee Extension Contract". Whitelee Wind Farm. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  17. ^ BBC News "Scottish Power wants Whitelee wind farm third extension" Retrieved 2012-09-17
  18. ^ "Scottish Government - DPEA - Case Details". www.dpea.scotland.gov.uk. Retrieved 2017-03-18. 
  19. ^ "BBC News - Blade snaps off huge wind turbine". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-03-18. 
  20. ^ "Wind turbine at Whiteleehill farm loses a nose cone". www.glasgowsouthandeastwoodextra.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-03-18. 
  21. ^ "Wind farm worker dies after falling from turbine". STV News. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  22. ^ Ward, Paul (2017-03-31). "Windfarm worker falls to his death from turbine near Glasgow". dailyrecord. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 


A panoramic view of the Whitelee wind farm with Lochgoin Reservoir in the foreground.

External links

  • Official website
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