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Glyndebourne turbine is approved

Plans to build a 70m (230ft) wind turbine on the Sussex Downs to power Glyndebourne Opera House have been given the go-ahead.

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears said the 850kw turbine would not be “significantly detrimental” to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Glyndebourne says the structure will reduce its carbon emissions by 71%.

A public inquiry was held into the plans, which campaigners said would harm the landscape, in March.

In her decision letter Ms Blears said “the scheme would constitute the sensitive exploitation of a renewable energy source without significant detriment to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”

She also said that any disadvantages were outweighed by the benefits.

Glyndebourne director, David Pickard, said he was “delighted that the Secretary of State, Hazel Blears has granted permission for Glyndebourne to build a wind turbine”.

Professor Peter Gardiner, of Lewes District Council, said: “This is a national decision as part of a national need.

“We in the South East are following the rest of Europe, where turbines are now a necessary part of the landscape.

“We will grow to love them as we love the 18th and 19th century Sussex windmills. They are a beacon of hope in an uncertain future.”

The opera house’s plans were also supported by broadcaster Sir David Attenborough.

‘Disrupt magnificence’

But, during the six-day public inquiry, Tom Oliver from the Campaign to Protect Rural England said the turbine blades would disrupt the “magnificence” of the Downs and distract anyone seeking to find inspiration from the landscape.

Following the decision Ruth Chambers, who is a member of the South Downs Environmental Protection Consortium, said: “We are hugely disappointed by the government’s decision in this case which in our view fails to appreciate the national importance of the South Downs landscape.

“However, we are heartened by the government’s acknowledgement that the Glyndebourne turbine is a special case because it is a unique enterprise in a unique location.

She added: “This sends a very clear message to would-be turbine developers that in general nationally important landscapes such as the South Downs will be protected from large wind schemes.”

BBC News

11 July 2008