Whitelee shut down

WHITELEE windfarm ground to halt this week after one of its turbines' 150ft blade snapped off.

All 140 of the machines at Europe's largest site had to be shut down until each of them could be inspected.

Engineers are trying to work out if the accident was caused by a mechanical problem or if it could have been struck by lightning.

And the Eaglesham Moor site was cordoned off over the weekend to keep visitors away.

All 420 blades are being examined with the process expected to be completed by tomorrow (Friday).

Keith Anderson, managing director of ScottishPower Renewables that runs the site, said: "This type of incident is exceptionally rare and highly unusual. However, the safety of our people and the public is our first priority.

"While the investigation into the cause of the incident is ongoing our engineers continue to conduct an internal and external examination of all turbine blades at the windfarm".

The blade sheared off and hit the ground in the early hours of Friday morning.

Automatic systems alerted control room operators about the damage who immediately shut the 300million development down.

The 360ft turbines are so massive engineers have been able to climb inside to detect the problem.German company Siemens, who supplied the turbines, are also understood to be investigating.

The incident has unnerved some residents in Eaglesham as the public have access to the network of pathways at the farm.

Eaglesham community council chairman, Bill Duguid, who can see Whitelee from his house, told The Extra: "It is worrying and something they will have to look into and let us know why it has fallen off".

A spokesman for ScottishPower Renewables said: "Investigations are ongoing, and a number of possibilities including mechanical failure and lightning strike are being considered".

WHITELEE was officially switched on in May 2009 but has been producing electricity since January 2008.

The 140 turbines generate 322 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 180,000 homes, and planning permission has been granted for an extra 36 turbines, which would power a total of 250,000 homes.