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Wind of change in the forest

Visitors to Whitelee Forest, northwest of Darvel should take extra care and watch out for diversions or closures as work to create 140 wind turbines continues.

In April 2006, the Scottish Executive granted ScottishPower consent to construct 140-turbine windfarm at Whitelee, with around half of the windfarm built on Forestry Commission Scotland land. Work began in September this year, and will take around three years to complete.

Throughout this time, visitors cannot walk or cycle within the construction area. Several popular routes will be closed for some or all of the construction period, including through-routes linking Carrot, Ardochrig and Craigends and walking routes from Ardochrig.

A number of popular routes remain open for the time being. These include: the forest roads at Carrot (open for approximately 1.5 km) and Craigends (open for approximately 3km). During the Christmas and New Year holiday period, access restrictions to the site will be relaxed.

Said Rena Tarwinska of Forestry Commission Scotland: “During this period we ask people to respect the signs for their own safety but also to allow the machine operators to go about their work safely. Even if there’s no sound of machinery to be heard, the fact that signs are in place means that the operators are working.

“The felling of the trees for the windfarm offers the chance to open up the forest, plant more broadleaves, and even establish native woodland in some areas. There will also be open areas managed as heather moorland and bog. This will benefit wildlife such as merlin and black grouse, and make the forest more interesting and attractive for people to visit. The 90km (56 miles) of tracks being built also means lots more routes for walking, cycling, and horse riding.

“Once the work is complete, ScottishPower will construct a visitor centre three miles southwest of Eaglesham which will provide a state of the art exhibition and educational space on windfarms and other renewable technologies within the site of an operational windfarm. It will also provide information on local history, ecology, forestry management and the important role the site plays in public water provision via the various reservoirs on the site.”

The first turbines will start to arrive on site from November 2007.

A ScottishPower leaflet detailing access during the construction period is available from local libraries and post offices in areas surrounding the site and in local shops.

For further information please contact the Scottish Power enquiry line on 0845 2700798 or email whitelee information@scottishpower.com