Whitelee Windfarm near East Kilbride has become the first wind energy project in Scotland to join the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA). ASVA has around 500 member sites who manage Scotland’s top visitor attractions.
ScottishPower Renewables and Glasgow Science Centre, who manage the visitor centre at Whitelee, took the decision to join the ASVA as Europe’s largest onshore windfarm approaches the major milestone of welcoming quarter of a million visitors.
Since it was officially opened in September 2009, estimates suggest that beyond the official figures for the Visitor Centre, at least a further 100,000 people have directly accessed the windfarm’s 90km of trails for recreational purposes such as jogging and cycling.
Whitelee’s £2m visitor centre includes a range of interactive displays and exhibitions, including a number of new and refreshed attractions for 2012. A separate learning hub, staffed by Glasgow Science Centre experts, caters for primary and secondary school visits. Workshop sessions are tailored to specific age groups to teach pupils more about the technology and science behind renewable energy. Nearly 10,000 pupils have visited Whitelee so far as part of a school trip.
John Alexander, Project Director at ScottishPower Renewables, said: “We are very pleased that Whitelee Windfarm will be joining Scotland’s top tourist attractions as a fully fledged member of the ASVA. It is fantastic that people have shown so much interest in the windfarm, and it has surpassed all of our expectations.
“One of our key priorities when building the windfarm was to ensure that it was accessible, and that people could enjoy interacting with it. The new tracks and paths have opened up large sections of countryside that people previously could not access.
“The biggest success we believe has been the number of visitors, especially the school children, who have come to the centre to learn more about renewable energy. The team at Glasgow Science Centre do a fantastic job in bringing the windfarm to life and explaining the engineering and science that goes in to operating the largest windfarm in Europe.”
Andrew Johnson, Chair of ASVA said: “We are always pleased to welcome new members, and are delighted to that Whitelee Windfarm has decided to join our association, which includes a vibrant mix of visitor attractions. Whitelee has excellent facilities and has proven to be a very popular destination for family days out.”
Energy and Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said: “I welcome Whitelee Windfarm’s decision to join the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions.
“Whitelee is creating new opportunities for a wide range of outdoor leisure activities to the South of Glasgow through improved access, a popular visitor centre and great linkages into the education community.
“I know the great facilities on offer from my own visit to the centre, and the fact that nearly a quarter of a million visitors have come to the centre since it opened shows just how much people are interested in renewables and the opportunities they open up in the countryside. The most recent tourism statistics show Scotland is growing in popularity with visitors, with a 9 per cent rise in overnight stays, and great destinations like Whitelee contribute to that growth.”
Whitelee also has its own Countryside Ranger Service, which oversees an extensive range of free family-themed events throughout the year. Upcoming events this summer include a Ride With the Wind cycling event, an environmental arts workshop and a guided walk to learn about the plants and animals who inhabit the windfarm site.
Media Information: Paul Ferguson, 0141 614 4535