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Environmental groups protest against wind turbine plan for opera house  

Four environmental charities are uniting to demonstrate against plans by Glyndebourne Opera House for a 70m wind turbine on the South Downs in East Sussex.

The South Downs Environmental Protection Consortium (SDEPC) believes the turbine, proposed for Mill Plain in Ringmer, would have a seriously damaging visual impact on the national park and area of outstanding national beauty.

The SDEPC is made up of the South Downs Society, which successfully stopped plans for a development overlooking the Seven Sisters, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Council for National Parks, the Open Spaces Society and the Ramblers’ Association,

Ringmer Parish Council also opposed the proposals with the application receiving 230 letters against the turbine. But Lewes District Council approved the plans, prompting the Government to step in and order a public inquiry.

In its planning application, the Opera House said the 850kW turbine would generate the equivalent of its annual electricity consumption while cutting the levels of carbon dioxide it releases each year by 855 tonnes. It currently releases 1,200 tonnes.

During periods of low electricity demand, power would be fed into the National Grid via Glyndebourne’s own existing sub station.

Letters backing the plans, of which 73 were received, argued the turbine, on the site of a former windmill, could become a national landmark and continue the tradition of wind use in the area.

Jacquetta Fewster, director of the South Downs Society, said the Environmental Protection Consortium supported renewable energy, but that this proposal was “the wrong scheme in the wrong place”.

Tom Oliver, head of Rural Policy at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “The South Downs are a priceless part of the beauty, tranquillity and heritage of England.

“It is not green to squander this in return for an unreliable and severely limited supply of energy when more efficient alternatives and locations are available.”

Members of the South Downs Environmental Protection Consortium (SDEPC), along with local residents will make their case against the turbine outside the planning inquiry, which is set to begin at the White Hart Hotel in Lewes on February 26.

The inquiry inspector will then report his findings to the Government for a final decision later in the year.

Lewes District Council could not be reached for comment.


22 February 2008

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