World's tallest on land wind farm planned for Scottish site

Some of the world’s tallest wind turbines could be erected near a former coal-mining town in Scotland if new plans get the green light.

Proposals have been put forward to build a wind farm a few miles from New Cumnock in East Ayrshire with turbines measuring up to 260m (850ft) tall – twice the height of The Glasgow Tower, Scotland’s tallest building.

The bid to create a new 50MW wind farm will generate enough energy to power more than 36,000 homes – or a town the size of Paisley – and save 33,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

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The proposal constitutes an extension to the 105.6MW Lethans wind farm, which was approved last year but is yet to be built.

Banks Renewables sustainability and external affairs manager Robin Winstanley and project manager Alan Wells visit the East Ayrshire site of Lethans Wind Farm - construction is due to begin in 2024

The second phase will feature up to 11 turbines, with the tallest measuring 260m at its highest point – more than double the height of the Glasgow Tower and higher than the supports on the Queensferry Crossing.

The world's tallest existing wind turbine is in the German town of Gaildorf, near Stuttgart, with a total height of 246.5m.

They would also be 40m taller than the biggest of the 22 turbines in the original Lethans development.

Blueprints show that the turbines would be visibile in certain directions an estimated 50km away.

Backers say it has the potential to deliver a range of benefits to the area, from supporting local jobs and firms to delivering a community benefit fund of up to £9.9 million, according to Hamilton-based developer Banks Renewables.

The firm estimates that £40 million will go to Scottish contractors during construction of the two Lethans schemes.

Meanwhile, a £1.3 million skills and training fund will run for five years, with the potential to support more than 400 local unemployed people get into work.

A scoping report has been submitted to the Scottish Government and views on the plans are being sought from members of the public.

“This is an exciting project and represents an important contribution towards Scotland’s net-zero goals by 2045,” said Robin Winstanley, sustainability and external affairs manager at Banks Renewables.

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“While we’re at a very early stage in developing our plans for Lethans Wind Farm Extension, we strongly believe the community should be involved from the start.

“We’re keen to seek the views of local people and work with them in collaboration to deliver a project that will have long-lasting environmental, economic and social benefits.

“Lethans Wind Farm Extension could mean an investment into a community fund over the project’s lifetime.

“Our current focus is on building on the good relationships we have in East Ayrshire to work together to deliver something that helps create a new legacy and have a positive, sustainable impact on the region.”

Lethans Wind Farm was given the go-ahead in October 2020, after plans were revised to maximise the supply of electricity.

As well as generating enough green energy to power 90,000 homes, equivalent to a city the size of Aberdeen, the scheme will see investment of at least £7 million into a local community benefit fund and a further £7 million to East Ayrshire Council’s Renewable Energy Fund.

The world's tallest existing wind turbine is in the German town of Gaildorf, near Stuttgart, with a total height of 246.5m.

The current biggest in the UK measures under 200m, but plans have been put forward for various schemes – including one at Langholm in Dumfries and Galloway and the original Lethans development, with structures up to 220m tall.

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