AN East Renfrewshire beauty spot that was once at the centre of a water pollution row has become the first windfarm in the world to win a prestigious environmental award.

The construction of Whitelee Windfarm was heavily criticised at the time, with allegations that the project caused severe water contamination which led to £120million worth of repairs.

Reports suggested 40 samples collected from the area between 2006 and 2008 contained traces of a toxic compound at levels up to 400 times greater than those deemed safe by the World Health Organisation in drinking water.

ScottishPower, which runs the Eaglesham site, denied any claims, adding that rigorous testing had shown construction activity “did not negatively impact ground water.”

Whitelee, which is the UK’s largest onshore windfarm, has now been awarded a Green Flag for its clean outdoor space.

Multiple parks, including Rouken Glen, in Giffnock, have also been awarded the prestigious climate accolade by environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful.

A spokesman for Keep Scotland Beautiful said: “The Green Flag Award recognises the valuable and tangible contribution these parks make towards the nation’s wellbeing.

“Receiving this prestigious international benchmark recognises all the hard work that has gone into maintaining and managing these precious green open spaces.”

Green Flag status is given to outdoor areas which are deemed to be “exceptionally maintained” to provide safe spaces for recreational activities and leisure.

Whitelee has become a popular destination for families, dog walkers, cyclists and horse riders who enjoy its tracks and trails.

Its visitor centre also has an interactive exhibition area and cafe and, through a programme developed by Glasgow Science Centre, the site serves as a renewable energy education hub.

Rouken Glen Park is a repeat winner of the Green Flag Award and has been recognised for the wealth of attractions it offers, including a waterfall, walled garden, outdoor gym, skate park and basketball and tennis courts.

An award also went to the wildlife trail at Linn Park, in Glasgow, which was developed with help from pupils at East Renfrewshire’s Netherlee Primary School.

An East Renfrewshire Council spokesperson said: “We are delighted that Rouken Glen has once again been recognised with this award. "People come from across East Renfrewshire and beyond to spend time in the park and it benefits everyone who uses it.

"From dog walkers to children and families, runners to skaters, there really is something for everyone.

"Throughout the pandemic it also provided many people with a safe space to exercise and get some fresh air.

"The park wouldn’t be what it is without our dedicated staff who maintain and improve it, so a huge congratulations and thanks go to the team.”