The organisation responsible for the South Downs has pledged to oppose plans to build a wind turbine.
The South Downs Joint Committee decided yesterday (mon) to object to a planning application by Glyndebourne Opera House.
For the first time the group’s planning committee allowed a member of the public to address its meeting.
Ringmer parish councillor Vic Tomkinson told the committee he believed the wind turbine would be ineffective and any environmental benefits would be far outweighed by the harm done to the landscape. It would loom over the downs at a height of 44 metres, or 70 metres to the top of the blade, with a 52-metre diameter.
Committee members voted to object to the application on the grounds that it was not in accordance with planning policy. Their views will be passed to Lewes District Council, which will make the final decision.
Mr Tomkinson said he supported renewable energy sources but did not think this one would work. He said: “I informed people I didn’t think it would be effective at what it is supposed to be. I have lived on the Downs all my life.
“My people come from the Downs. I am very much concerned with keeping them or what little remains of them.
“I said I didn’t think what it was going to do to the Downs and to Ringmer was worth the little carbon reduction it was going to produce.”
He said the opera house had estimated the turbine would produce the same amount of energy as if it were in the “windiest heights of Wales”.
He added that according to the Centre for Alternative Technology, in order for a turbine to be commercially viable, it needs to have a speed of 7 metres per second. The range of the proposed machine at Glyndebourne will have an estimated speed of 4.8 to 6.6 metres per second.
Coun Tomkinson said: “I personally don’t think it’s going to justify what it’s going to do for the Downs.”
Committee chairman Paul Millmore said: “After a lengthy debate, the majority view was that we would object because it is contrary to policy.”
A Glyndebourne spokeswoman said: “We are committed to reducing our impact on the environment and our proposal for a wind turbine would enable us to generate the equivalent of all the electricity the opera house uses each year from renewable sources and it reflects Glyndebourne’s desire to power the opera house in cleaner, greener and more efficient ways.
“Unfortunately Glyndebourne was not able to send a representative to the South Downs Joint Committee meeting.”
The opera house says the annual mean wind speed at Mill Plain is estimated to be 6.8metres per second.
The planning committee also decided to reaffirm its concerns about plans to turn King Edward VII Hospital in Midhurst into 337 homes.
By Rachel Pegg
12 March 2007
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