ScottishPower Renewables has received permission to install another 39 wind turbines to the facility, which is Europe's largest onshore wind farm. The initial 140 wind turbines were completed ahead of schedule in May and, on the day the wind farm was officially commissioned, planning permission was given to add 36 more wind turbines. The completion of both extensions will boost the wind farm to 215 wind turbines across an area of 80 km2.

“It took over a decade to complete the first phase of the wind farm, from identifying the site to completing construction, and the Scottish Government must be commended for the improvements in the planning process that means this wind farm development has been considered in record time,” says Keith Anderson of ScottishPower Renewables. “In the week that delegates from across the world are discussing global climate change issues in Copenhagen, it is fitting that Europe's largest onshore wind farm at Whitelee has been given permission to expand further.”

The planning application for the second extension was submitted to the Scottish Government in May. Both additions will be constructed at the same time, starting in 2010, with completion expected in 2012. It is anticipated that construction will create up to 200 jobs.

“As the largest developer of onshore wind power in the UK, we have gained a lot of experience in developing projects, with over 80% of projects considered receiving planning consent,” adds Anderson. “Improved planning processes will only help towards Scotland fully realising its renewable energy potential.”

“Scotland continues to lead the way in developing the technology and capacity in renewables, in carbon capture, in energy efficiency measures, to reduce emissions and mitigate climate change.” says First Minister Alex Salmond. “The Whitelee extension underlines Scotland's place at the cutting edge of green energy and our comprehensive climate change framework, including the world-leading emission reduction targets of 42% and 80% by 2020 and 2050 respectively, and the pioneering carbon assessment of our 2010-11 budget, provide a lead to other governments.”

A visitor centre at Whitelee was officially opened in September, and 25,000 visitors came in two months before it closed for the winter period at the end of November. The 90 km of roads and tracks constructed as part of the wind farm have been extremely popular with cyclists, walkers and horse riders, according to officials.

ScottishPower Renewables is part of Iberdrola Renovables, the largest wind energy company in the world with installed capacity of 10,477 MW and a pipeline of 57,400 MW. ScottishPower Renewables had 802 MW of installed capacity in September and a pipeline of 5,115 MW.