As well as being the largest operating onshore wind power project in Europe, capable of powering up to 180,000 homes, the wind turbines plant is home to a hugely popular visitor and learning centre which has attracted more than 125,000 visitors since opening in September 2009. The £2m facility is the first of its kind in the UK, and has allowed people learn more about sustainable energy as well as acting as a focal point for cyclists, horse riders and ramblers who have taken advantage of the wind farm’s 90km of tracks.
Since opening, more than 4,500 school pupils have visited Whitelee to learn about renewable energy from the specially-trained staff in the interactive learning zone. Under the tutorship of Glasgow Science Centre staff, tailored workshops and activities have been designed for children of all ages. Teachers Packs are also made available, so that lessons in renewable energy can continue back in the classroom.
Keith Anderson, chief executive of ScottishPower Renewables, said: “Everyone involved with the project at Whitelee, from the early days of site selection and construction right up to the team who run the visitor centre, have played a major role in the success of the wind farm. We are all delighted and very honoured to have received the Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development. It is recognition of the hard work that has gone in to every aspect of planning, delivering and running Europe’s largest wind farm.
“We are especially delighted with the huge interest that the public has shown in the wind farm, and are pleased to have hosted thousands of school pupils and given them the opportunity to learn about renewable energy. Work to extend the wind farm is now underway and it will be capable of powering the equivalent of 300,000 homes, and we hope that it will remain to be seen as a leading example of responsible development and social inclusion for a long time to come.”