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 MW windfarm comprising around 70 turbines and generating enough electricity to power 70 000 homes.

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 10 km2 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, 16 km from Glasgow, which could also come on stream in 2003. ScottishPower plans 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.

ScottishPower Executive Director Ken Vowles said, “The company is now in process of informing the local communities of our plans in detail, including via roadshows, and we hope as many people as possible will attend.

“ScottishPower takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously and all environmental impacts will be considered during the planning process.”

Ken Vowles added that the company was on track to meet government requirements to provide 10 per cent of its generation from renewable sources by 2010.