Protesters are preparing for the latest round in a bitter dispute over a massive wind turbine proposed by the world-famous Glyndebourne Opera House.
They claim that if it is allowed the 230-feet-high turbine will spoil the iconic beauty of the South Downs countryside.
Campaigners from several leading countryside organisations plan to stage a demonstration when a planning inquiry opens at Lewes, East Sussex on February 26.
The plan was originally approved by Lewes District Council but after protests was referred to Hazel Blears, the Secretary of State for Communities, who decided there should be a public inquiry.
Glyndebourne claims the wind turbine will allow it to generate its own electricity and will cut its carbon emissions by 71 per cent
The South Downs Environmental Protection Consortium (SDEPC) strongly opposes the location of the wind turbine on Mill Plain in Ringmer, about 430 yards north-west of the opera house but still within Glyndebourne’s estate in the designated South Downs National Park and existing Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
The South Downs was designated as a national park in 2003 and a public inquiry reopened this month to resolve a dispute over its proposed boundaries.
Natural England, the Government’s own statutory advisors on landscape, and the South Downs Joint Committee, the managing body for the Sussex Downs AONB also oppose the turbine and will give evidence to the inquiry.
Jacquetta Fewster, the director of the South Downs Society, said: “The Environmental Protection Consortium is in favour of renewable energy. However, this particular turbine would have a seriously damaging visual impact on the Downs. The turbine is the wrong scheme in the wrong place”.
Tom Oliver, the 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
Malcolm McDonnell of the Sussex Area of the Ramblers’ Association said: “The South Downs Way is an important national trail through an area designated as a national park, and it’s absolutely essential that these key routes are protected from industrial paraphernalia.”
Ruth Chambers, the deputy chief executive of the Council for National Parks, said: “This case raises important national issues as it would be the largest turbine in any national park in England once the park comes into being. We are fully behind the local groups in opposing this threat to the precious downland landscape.”
In its planning application Glyndebourne said it wanted the 850kw turbine to generate the equivalent of all its electricity needs from renewable sources and reflected its desire to power the opera house in cleaner, greener and more efficient ways.
As well as contributing to renewable energy targets, it would raise awareness of wind energy, cut costs and help secure local jobs.
Executive chairman Gus Christie said: “For the sake of future generations and for the sake of the beautiful Downs, we have to do something, we can do something, and I think this will send a very positive message to people who visit and people who live around the area.”
25 February 2008
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