The £120million question: Did Britain’s biggest windfarm contaminate water?

Posted Category: Health, Water Contamination

By Craig McDonald

DR Rachel Connor claims the water has deteriorated since construction work started on the windfarm.

CONTAMINATION caused by building Britain’s biggest windfarm has forced water bosses to construct a new £120million pipeline, according to a campaigning doctor.

Scottish Water announced the major works between Ayrshire and Glasgow last month.

They said 29 miles of new water mains would give 200,000 customers “greater security of supply”.

The utility firm added that organic material in the reservoirs near the windfarm pre-dates building work. They said the need to pipe water from treatment works in Milngavie has nothing to do with construction of the Whitelee windfarm in East Renfrewshire.

But Dr Rachel Connor claims the water has deteriorated since construction work started on the windfarm.

Dr Rachel Connor of Galston believes Scotland’s largest windfarm, the Whitelees Wind Farm, has contaminated water supplies

She claims it has contributed to reservoirs in Ayrshire being taken out of use with water now being sought instead from outside the area.

Her claims have been backed by an MSP who says her research “indicates water in the windfarm area has deteriorated in recent years”.

We can also reveal Energy Minister Fergus Ewing last month met Dr Connor and local MSP Graeme Pearson over her concerns.

The windfarm, on Eaglesham Moor, was built between 2006 and 2009, with an extension constructed from 2010 to 2013.

It’s run by Scottish Power Renewables, who are owned by Spanish utility giants Iberdrola.

Whitelee’s 215 turbines are each over 200ft high and Dr Connor believes work on cabling and foundations affected water supplies.

Dr Connor, 59, a clinical radiologist, who lives near Galston, said: “We know there was organic material in the water before the windfarm was built.

“But I believe that during the construction period, it deteriorated to levels beyond which the local treatment plant, at Amlaird, could cope with.

“This treatment plant was upgraded in 2005 – just before construction of the windfarm began.

“A risk assessment for Scottish Water in 2010 stated windfarm construction may have had an effect on raw water quality.

“I believe there is now an insufficient supply of local water of an acceptable quality, leading to the need for engineering work to deal with this.”

Pearson said: “Dr Connor has obtained information that indicates the water in the area has been subject to deterioration which has made it unfit for consumption.

“I have been working with her for more than three years on this issue and I believe the evidence she has gathered justifies her claims.

“It is evidence the various authorities have not been helpful in providing.”

Scottish Water say their investment will benefit customers in towns across Ayrshire and into Renfrewshire.

They said: “Our £120million investment is to improve security of supply to more than 200,000 customers.

“It will also enable us to close three water treatment works, including Amlaird, and supply clearer, fresher drinking water from the modern Milngavie treatment works.

“This also means we will no longer require raw water from two reservoirs.

“The raw water from these reservoirs contains naturally occurring organics not uncommon in the UK.

“The presence of these organics pre-dates windfarm activity in the area.

“There is no evidence to suggest the Whitelee windfarm has affected the public water supply.”

A ScottishPower Renewables spokesman said: “Whitelee Windfarm has not affected public water supplies.

“There is no suggestion from any authorities that it has.”

The Scottish Government said: “The investment is designed to improve the resilience of existing networks, provide capacity for economic growth and address water quality problems at Amlaird water treatment works.”

The Drinking Water Quality Regulator said: “Scottish Water gave a legally binding undertaking in 2013 to resolve the risk of non-compliance with drinking water quality standards in the Amlaird supply zone.

“We are monitoring progress with the undertaking to ensure that Scottish Water comply with the agreed completion date of March 2017.”

The new work will consists of a 10-mile pipeline from Waulkmill Glen reservoir, near Newton Mearns, to the Fenwick area, a 13-mile pipe from Fenwick to a tank near Dundonald and six miles of mains in south Glasgow.

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