A wind turbine towering over the South Downs National Park has been hailed as a green solution to the problem of supplying energy to Glyndebourne Opera House.
The £1.2million, 230ft tall structure, which started producing power last week, has hit all the wrong notes, however, with opponents of this new addition to the skyline in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
The South Downs Society, the Ramblers Association, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and Natural England are among a host of dissenting voices, claiming the German-built turbine is a tragedy for anyone who cares about the beauty of the countryside.
They have labelled it Glyndebourne’s Folly and claim energy output from the tower is too low to be effective. Bosses at Glyndebourne say the turbine will supply 90 per cent of the electricity they need to help stage the productions that have given the opera venue in East Sussex a worldwide reputation.
Executive chairman Gus Christie said: “It is a fantastic development. We hope our turbine will now help raise awareness of the environmental benefits of renewable energy. We are very excited about it. The opportunity to create our own power will significantly contribute to our aim of becoming carbon neutral in our operations.”
He promised the 77-year-old opera house, where the likes of Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa have starred, would publish regular updates on the amount of power generated and output to the national grid.
His strongest ally is naturalist Sir David Attenborough who said the turbine represents the future and is “a marvellous way to minimise pollution”. He added: “That an international institution should pay such regard to its environmental responsibilities seems to me to be wholly admirable.”
Approval for the turbine outside the village of Ringmer was given by the Government in 2008 despite strong opposition.
Steve Ankers, of the South Downs Society, said: “It is a sad week for anyone who cares about the beauty of the national park. We must ensure that any new turbine is of the right scale and in the right place.
“Sadly this huge turbine can be seen over a wide area while not contributing much in the way of green energy, the worst of both worlds.”
The Campaign to Protect Rural England said: “This is the wrong development in the wrong place. Skyscraper-sized machines should be built out at sea or in industrialised landscapes, not high up in our most valued landscapes.”
One Ringmer resident said: “Some of us fear this is the thin end of the wedge. It will not be long before we have loads of these things on the hills around here.”
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