National and regional environmental groups have criticized the government’s decision today to grant permission for a giant wind turbine at Glyndebourne in the South Downs. The turbine will be the first industrial-scale turbine ever to be built in a designated national park.
Ruth Chambers of the Campaign for National Parks, a member of the South Downs Environmental Protection Consortium, said “We are hugely disappointed by the government’s decision in this case which 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. 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.”
She continued: “It is encouraging that the Secretary of State, in recognising the importance of protecting our finest landscapes, has reiterated the government’s commitment to their protection. However, in his report, the inquiry Inspector has acknowledged the development would have significant adverse impacts on the local countryside and on walkers. Added to this, the Inspector notes that the development will generate low levels of energy. So on many counts, we find the government’s decision very puzzling.”
Hazel Blears, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has imposed several conditions which must be met before the wind turbine is built, including the closure of Glyndebourne’s helipad, and a programme of measures to encourage the use of non-car modes of transport. The Consortium welcomes the Secretary of State’s recognition that the carbon footprint of Glyndebourne’s visitors should be tackled, a point which we argued during the public inquiry which took place earlier in 2008.
Tom Oliver of the Campaign to Protect Rural England said: “Although it is good that the government is taking the issue of climate change more seriously, in our view this huge wind turbine at Glyndebourne is the wrong development in the wrong place. Skyscraper-sized machines should be built out at sea or in otherwise industrialised landscapes, not high up in our most valued landscapes.”
Jacquetta Fewster of the South Downs Society said: “We renew our offer to help Glyndebourne to find better ways of reducing its impact on the environment. Transport is the biggest element of Glyndebourne’s carbon emissions. We are pleased the government has said the helipad must close before a wind turbine is built, but we again urge Glyndebourne to close their helipad and draw up a travel plan immediately. It is vital that increasing numbers of Glyndebourne’s visitors are encouraged to use more sustainable means of transport than cars and helicopters.”
Malcolm McDonnell of the Ramblers’ Association said: “Climate change is a key environmental issue facing us today. But there are so many ways we could be reducing our carbon emissions which would have a negligible impact on our last-remaining areas of unspoilt and beautiful countryside.”
The South Downs Environmental Protection Consortium will be studying the decision in detail over the next few days to ensure no errors in law have been made which would allow it to be challenged in the High Court.
The South Downs Environmental Protection Consortium was set up to discourage industrial-scale development on the South Downs and comprises the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Campaign for National Parks, the Open Spaces Society, the Ramblers’ Association and the South Downs Society. It will continue to oppose turbines across the downs if they are inappropriate in scale or location.
The planning application was submitted to Lewes District Council in January 2007. In July 2007, Councillors agreed they wished to approve the scheme despite advice from their own officers they should not do so. However, the government felt the scheme might conflict with national policies on important matters so they ordered a public inquiry. The inquiry took place in February and March 2008. Objectors to the scheme included the South Downs Environmental Protection Consortium, the government’s advisory body on the countryside Natural England, the South Downs Joint Committee, parish councils and local residents.
For further information, please contact
Jacquetta Fewster (South Downs Society) tel 01798 875073 or 0780 1233582, or
Tom Oliver (Campaign to Protect Rural England) tel 020 7981 2838 or 07818 450802
Ruth Chambers (Campaign for National Parks) tel 020 7924 4077 or 07971 102 156
CPRE, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, is a charity which promotes the beauty, tranquility and diversity of rural England. We advocate positive solutions for the long-term future of the countryside. Founded in 1926, we have 60,000 supporters and a branch in every county. Patron: Her Majesty The Queen. Sussex Branch has over 2,000 members with 11 districts representing members across the County.
The Campaign for National Parks (CNP) is the national charity that campaigns to protect and promote National Parks for the benefit and quiet enjoyment of all..
The Open Spaces Society, founded in 1865, is Britain’s oldest national conservation body. It campaigns to protect and create common land, town and village greens and public rights of way.
The Ramblers’ Association is Britain’s biggest organization working for walkers. A registered charity with 137,000 members across England, Scotland and Wales, it has been looking after Britain’s footpaths and defending its beautiful countryside since 1935.
The South Downs Society is a charity set up to conserve and enhance the beauty and amenities of the South Downs for the benefit of the public. It was established in 1923 and successfully defeated proposals for unsuitable coastal development overlooking the famous Seven Sisters area.
Acting Chief Executive
Campaign for National Parks
Tel 020 7924 4077 ext. 222
web site http://www.cnp.org.uk
Campaign for National Parks
6-7 Barnard Mews
Tel 020 7924 4077 Fax 020 7924 5761
The Campaign for National Parks is registered
charity number 295336 and company limited
by guarantee number 2045556, registered
in England and Wales at 6-7 Barnard Mews,
London SW11 1QU.