Glyndebourne opera house, near Lewes in East Sussex, has won a significant battle in its campaign to establish itself as one of the country’s most eco-friendly buildings, by gaining consent to build a giant wind turbine that will cut its carbon footprint by three quarters.
But the plan has run up against local opposition because of the fear that it will ruin a beautiful stretch of countryside. The construction will be 230ft high from the ground to the tip of its blades, four times the height of the average windmill.
But the very fact that it will be seen for miles around has prompted others to defend the proposal, as a visible reminder to Glyndebourne’s wealthy and powerful visitors of the importance of renewable energy.
The battle will shift to Whitehall, where the newly appointed Communities and Local Government Secretary, Hazel Blears, will make the final decision.
The proposal has provoked furious debate locally, with public meetings held to defend it or oppose it. Eventually, Lewes district council planning committee decided by 6 votes to 4 to let the construction go ahead, although their own planning officers said that it should be rejected. Conservative councillors were against the plan, but the Liberal Democrats, who control Lewes Council, were for it.
The committee chairman, Peter Gardiner, said: “Generation of electricity from a sustainable source of wind power is the right way forward, not just for ourselves but for our grandchildren and future generations”.
The committee was presented with statements from environmental groups who were against the plan, including the Council to Protect Rural England (CPRE), the South Downs Society and the Ramblers Association.
They were also handed a petition signed by 150 pupils of the nearby secondary school, Ringmer Community College, pleading for it to go ahead.
Roy Haycock, the chairman of CPRE Sussex, said: “We are deeply disturbed to hear that the Council wishes to grant permission against its own planning officer’s recommendations. This turbine has huge opposition both nationally and locally.”
Gus Christie, the executive chairman of Glyndebourne Productions, said: “We are delighted that Glyndebourne’s application to build a wind turbine, to supply the opera house with renewable energy, has been given the go-ahead by Lewes District Council. Climate change is one of the most important challenges facing our generation and it is imperative that we act now.”
By Andy McSmith
13 July 2007
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