Glyndebourne Opera’s wind turbine will have a negligible effect on climate change and could destroy the South Downs’ much-loved landscape
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is opposed to Glyndebourne Opera’s application to build a wind turbine because we believe it will do great damage to the quality of one of the most highly protected landscapes in the country. The South Downs is enjoyed by millions of visitors every year and is on the brink of becoming a national park, the highest level of protection a landscape can get, thanks to the leadership of the present government.
The application is on flimsy ground at best: the vast majority of Glyndebourne’s carbon footprint (74%) is derived from visitors driving to and from the opera house, and there is little sign that anything is being done to reduce this significantly. In the meantime, Glyndebourne still has a helipad for visitors, despite the urgency of reducing carbon emissions. And because the opera mostly uses electricity in the summer months when any turbine will produce little power, there is no serious case for locating the huge industrial scale object close to the site.
CPRE finds the case unconvincing (pdf), the probable damage to the South Downs considerable and the showy flourish of commitment to sorting out climate change a poor way of winning recruits to the cause of saving our amazingly beautiful world.
In 1942, in the middle of the second world war, the government nevertheless began planning how we would protect our most treasured landscapes once the war was over. The South Downs was one of the supreme symbols of what it was worth fighting for and then worth fighting to protect for the benefit of everyone. The war was won and we still enjoy the beautiful places protected by the then Labour government’s legislation. The battle to prevent dangerous climate change is in its early stages, but the principle is the same: it’s crucial that we can unite in a common purpose and that we aim for an outcome we can all support. It would be a great mistake to ignore the love and loyalty people feel for special and beautiful places; love and loyalty which can and should be harnessed to good effect in the battle to lower CO2 emissions substantially.
Renewable energy has a significant contribution to make and even on-shore wind can do its bit. But no measure should be granted unconditional support, and certainly not if it will damage the experience of much loved landscapes for millions of people. That means respecting national protected landscapes, while we press on with all the most effective measures we can take to tackle the problem.
If the huge effort needed to combat climate change is pitched against the love of special landscapes and special places, the task will command far less support, take far longer, and will leave us with a country scarred by the very measures designed to save it.
By Tom Oliver
5 March 2008
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