Leading countryside organisations have today (Thursday) vowed to continue their campaign to protect the South Downs from a giant wind turbine on Mill Plain, above Glyndebourne. This promise follows the news that Lewes District Council wants to grant permission for an industrial scale wind turbine at Glyndebourne Opera House in the Sussex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Roy Haycock, 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.’
The Campaign to Protect Rural England , the Council for National Parks  the Ramblers’ Association , the South Downs Society  and the Open Spaces Society  have staunchly opposed the proposal because they believe that the 230-foot turbine will destroy the views of the precious landscape in the eastern part of the South Downs. The turbine would also be within the designated South Downs National Park .
Lewes District Councillors voted 6:4 against the advice of their own Planning Officer. The officer’s recommendation was that the application should be refused due to the significant harm which would be caused by the giant turbine to the natural beauty, character and tranquillity of the landscape .
The wind turbine proposal is in direct conflict with national, regional and local planning policies and is opposed by Natural England as well as locally by village residents .
Jacquetta Fewster, Director of the South Downs Society, said: ‘All the countryside protection organisations are in favour of appropriate renewable energy but argue that great thought must be given to the type and size of renewable energy developed, particularly in special landscapes such as AONBs and National Parks .’
The Government has ordered the Council not to grant permission until it has scrutinised the application to assess whether a public inquiry should take place .
Ruth Chambers, Head of Policy at the Council for National Parks, said: ‘We are calling for a public inquiry into this proposed development. It is madness to build such a huge structure on such a sensitive and prominent part of the South Downs.’
Jacquetta Fewster concluded: ‘We are determined to protect the South Downs from unsuitable development, and we will fight this proposal at inquiry if needs be.’
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NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. CPRE, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, is a charity which promotes the beauty, tranquillity and diversity of rural England. We advocate positive solutions for the long-term future of the countryside. Founded in 1926, we have 60,000 supporters and a branch in every county. Patron: Her Majesty The Queen. Sussex Branch has over 2,000 members with 11 districts representing members across the County.
2. CNP is the national charity that works to protect and enhance the National Parks of England and Wales, and areas that merit National Park status and promote understanding and quiet enjoyment of them for the benefit of all.
3. The Ramblers’ Association is Britain’s biggest organisation working for walkers. A registered charity with 137,000 members across England, Scotland and Wales, it has been looking after Britain’s footpaths and defending its beautiful countryside since 1935.
4. The South Downs Society is a charity set up to conserve and enhance the beauty and amenities of the South Downs for the benefit of the public. It was established in 1923 and successfully defeated proposals for unsuitable coastal development overlooking the famous Seven Sisters area.
5. The Open Spaces Society, founded in 1865, is Britain’s oldest national conservation body. It campaigns to protect and create common land, town and village greens and public rights of way.
6. The South Downs was designated as a National Park in 2003. A public inquiry closed in March 2005. The Government is expected to confirm the National Park this year.
7. Lewes District Council voted 6:4 against their Planning Officer’s recommendations at their meeting on Wednesday 11 July. You can view the report: http://www.lewes.gov.uk/Files/plancttee_070711_LW_07_0077.pdf
8. On 9 February 2007 an open Parish Council meeting of Ringmer residents was held, with tellers and press present. The residents voted by 88.7% (126:16) to oppose the proposal. Immediately thereafter the Parish Council planning committee voted 5:2 to oppose. This conflicts with the support cited by Glyndebourne which is 85% in favour.
9. Although domestic wind turbines have been built in many National Parks at a typical size of 40-50 feet, a commercial-sized turbine such as the one proposed for the South Downs would be unprecedented. It would be visible over hundreds of square miles and would dominate the landscape from classic viewpoints on the South Downs, including from the Wilmington Long Man, Firle Beacon, Beddingham Hill, Swanborough Hill, Mount Harry and Black Cap.
10. The Government Office for the South East has issued an ‘Article 14 direction’ which means that Lewes District Council cannot grant the proposal planning permission. The application will now be scrutinised by the Government Office.
12 July 2007
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