Hundreds of wind turbines are to be installed across Sussex, The Argus can reveal.
A study has been launched to identify sites for wind farms in the county, looking into wind speeds and the viability of each location.
The £10,000 investigation, sponsored by the South East England Development Agency (Seeda), will pinpoint spots across the county where wind turbines could be located.
The county has pledged to put up almost 750 turbines by 2016, including 22 at 70 metres high, 20 at 30 metres, 300 at 20 metres installed at schools and colleges and 400 small turbines on homes.
It is estimated that this will generate 32 megawatts (MW) of electricity each year – enough to power 15,500 homes.
In Brighton and Hove, large wind turbine facilities are likely to be placed at the edge of the city.
Large industrial sites such as Shoreham Harbour have also been earmarked as potential locations for large wind turbine facilities.
Plans to build up to five turbines at the harbour are already being looked at.
But wind turbines to be placed outside of the council’s King’s House, Grand Avenue, Hove, were held back last week only hours before the controversial proposals were due to go before planners.
A report of city planning guidelines reads: “In Brighton and Hove, the large-scale production of renewable energy is likely to suit major mixed-use developments, prime commercial and service districts such as those in the city centre and London Road and Lewes Road area and large industrial sites such as Shoreham Harbour.”
Some of the highest wind speed in the whole of the South East is on the South Downs and regional planning guidelines suggest the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty could be used for small developments with one to four turbines.
This would be allowed if the siting “avoids or minimises the impact through careful siting and design”.
The study is being led by Brighton and Hove City Council with the help of Sussex Sustainable Energy Partnership, which has already identified the number of wind turbines needed for the next ten years.
West Sussex County Council has estimated that onshore wind could provide 11MW of electricity by 2010.
This could come from one small wind cluster of four to ten turbines, three large single wind turbines or ten small single turbines.
The Sussex coast looks the most likely site for wind turbine developments as average speeds of 6.5 metres per second are recorded – the level required to make wind turbines commercially viable – and fewer planning restrictions are in place.
A spokeswoman for Seeda said: “Seeda’s contribution of £10,000 towards this study links to a key objective in the region’s economic strategy, which is to increase the contribution of renewable energy, so as to reduce the region’s carbon emissions and increase the sustainability of communities.
“Wind energy is one form of renewable energy that is suitable in some locations, other possible options include using wood through proactive forest management in our wooded region.
“The funding was devolved to Sussex councils via the South East Sustainable Energy Partnership. It was a local decision on what it spent it on and they chose to commission the mapping.”
A spokesman for East Sussex County Council said the authority supported renewable energy but that any potential site would have to be dealt with on its own merits.
A spokesman for Brighton and Hove City Council said any planning application would be assessed on its individual merits.
By Lawrence Marzouk
5 November 2007
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