Whole lotta wind!

ScottishPower has announced a £70 million plan to build a large windfarm on the site of an abandoned open cast mine at Black Law near the village of Forth in South Lanarkshire.

The proposal is for a 120 Megawatt (MW) windfarm generating enough electricity to power 70,000 homes and comprising around 70 turbines.

Full planning consultation is now underway and, if approved, the windfarm could be operational by 2003. During the one-year construction period around 200 local jobs would be created and local companies will be encouraged to tender for the £6 million of construction contracts available. Six full-time jobs will be created.

Black Law is among the first windfarms proposed for industrial and or forested sites under new guidelines for windfarm development set out by the Scottish Executive and Scottish Natural Heritage. It was selected following an exhaustive process to identify the most promising windfarm sites in Scotland based on a range of environmental and technical criteria.

ScottishPower, in partnership with the RSPB and landowners, will be developing a habitat management plan to improve the area for wildlife, especially birds, and new walking and cycling ways with controlled access are also planned.

The improvements will be set out in an environmental assessment currently being carried out into the windfarm’s potential affect on the environment in its widest sense.

Much of the four square mile site around Forth village has been derelict since coal mining activities ceased there a year or so ago. The site also takes in some forestry and grazing land.

The announcement follows another by ScottishPower at the end of July for a 240 MW windfarm – the biggest in the UK – on Eaglesham Moor, 10 miles from Glasgow, which could also come on stream in 2003.

ScottishPower has 10 windfarm sites in the UK and southern Ireland totalling 100 MW. The Black Law and Eaglesham projects are part of the company’s drive to install an additional 400 MW of renewable energy over the next few years.

Black Law windfarm alone would reduce emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide by quarter of a million tonnes a year by offsetting electricity generated at conventional, coal-fired power stations and together the two windfarms would meet more than half of the Government’s renewable energy targets for Scotland.

The Scottish Executive has been informed and consultations with the local communities continue with a roadshow from 16 to 20 August taking in Climpy, Fauldhouse, Carnwath, Lanark, Forth, Shotts and Carluke.

A full environmental assessment should be complete by this autumn and will be submitted for consideration by North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire and West Lothian Councils.