The visitor centre at Whitelee Windfarm near Glasgow has recently closed its doors for the winter break and official figures released by ScottishPower Renewables have revealed that more than 120,000 people have come to see Europe’s largest windfarm in the 12 months that the centre has been opened – four times as many as the company had originally forecast.
The £2m state-of-the-art visitor and learning centre visitor centre is the first of its kind in the UK, and has allowed people who have an interest in renewable energy the opportunity to see how it all works first-hand. Managed by Glasgow Science Centre, the sustainable facility was designed to encourage visitors to learn more about renewable energy as well as acting as a focal point for the cyclists, horse riders and ramblers who want to take of advantage of the windfarm’s 90km of tracks.
The windfarm has also proved to be a hugely popular destination for educational visits. Just under 4,500 school pupils have visited Whitelee as part of a school group to learn about renewable energy from the specially-trained staff in the interactive learning zone. Under the tutorship of the 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.
Thousands more are predicted to have used the site for recreation without entering the visitor centre, and are not included in the official figures. But for those who wanted to take advantage of the views from inside, the warmth of the cafe has been a popular spot. Thirsty sightseers have ordered more than 75,000 cups of tea and coffee, with more than 40,000 cakes and scones on the side.
Keith Anderson, CEO of ScottishPower Renewables, said: “We have been utterly astounded by the level of interest in the windfarm – it has outstripped all of our estimates. The facility is the first of its kind in the UK, so it was difficult to predict how popular it would be. Now we know that windfarms and renewable energy have a broad appeal.
“The visitor centre has been managed very well by Glasgow Science Centre and we are both particularly pleased by the interest shown by schools and the number of educational visits we have received. Renewable energy increasingly has a major role to play in our society, and we are delighted that children can learn all about it from an early age. Hopefully we will help to inspire engineers of tomorrow.
“When we first looked at building Europe’s largest windfarm on Eaglesham Moor, it was always our intention to open up access routes across the site and invite the local communities to be part of the project. We are overwhelmed with the levels of enthusiasm that people have shown for Whitelee so far, and we hope it long continues.”
Robin Hoyle, Director of Science at Glasgow Science Centre: “The number of people visiting Whitelee Windfarm Visitor Centre has far surpassed our expectations. The Visitor Centre is a fantastic resource for school pupils, and the general public across Scotland, to learn about sustainable energy. The interactive exhibits, in conjunction with the workshop programme, are a fun and interesting way for people to learn more about renewable energy. Our team based at Whitelee has delivered science workshops to over four thousand school pupils. The Centre, which is set against the stunning backdrop of the Eaglesham Moors, has also become a haven for outdoor pursuits like cycling and horse riding. We hope that the Visitor Centre and the Whitelee Windfarm site continue its popularity upon its opening for the summer season in March.”
Media Information: Paul Ferguson: 0141 566 4515/07702 665 924