Glyndebourne Opera has angered conservationists with plans for a 70-metre wind turbine on a hill in the South Downs area of outstanding natural beauty.
The opera charity has submitted a planning application to Lewes council for the 850 kilowatt turbine, which it says “would become a new landmark in this part of East Sussex.” The single turbine, which would reduce the opera house’s annual emissions of carbon dioxide by 71 per cent, would be located where a windmill once stood on Mill Plain, between the villages of Glyndebourne and Ringmer.
Gus Christie, executive chairman of the charity and the third generation of his family to run the opera house, said there was compelling evidence that human activity was changing the climate and it was time for the opera house to “do its bit.”
“I want to do this to reduce our carbon emissions, to power the opera house and to make a statement in the South East. I am very concerned about global warming.
“This turbine will be in an area of outstanding natural beauty but the landscape can handle it. None of us would like a string of them here. That would not happen.
We did a survey and 85 per cent of the locals were in favour of it. It will not be noisy and it will not interrupt the opera. We have had a few power cuts in recent years so that is another reason for building it. We have to refund tickets if there is a cut.”
Mr Christie said experts estimated that the turbine would operate at 29 per cent efficiency, which was good for the South East. The tower will be 44 metres high and the blades 26 metres, making the distance to the tip 70 metres.
Glyndebourne has already consulted locals on the plans, which have the backing of the natural history film maker Sir David Attenborough.
But Jon Martin, chairman of the South Downs Society, said: “We are not opposed to renewable energy but it is vital that we protect the few areas of unspoilt countryside we have from large-scale developments such as these.”
Jacquetta Fewster, the society’s director, said: “We are pleased that Glyndebourne is thinking green but, rather than spoil the landscape, it should begin by reducing its impact on the environment by doing more to help visitors travel by public transport, for example.”
By Charles Clover, Environment Editor
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