Green Party would "celebrate" wind farms in the South Downs

The Green Party has astonished local campaigners by saying that they would “celebrate” wind farms in the South Downs National Park.

The admission was made by Brighton & Hove Green group leader Councillor Keith Taylor who was representing Green Party Leader Caroline Lucas MEP at a public debate in Arundel on Friday night (5 March).

The debate was convened by the Greening Campaign, a grassroots movement to encourage community action to tackle climate change.

Panellists included Arundel & South Downs MP & Shadow Environment Secretary Nick Herbert, West Sussex County Councillor Nigel Peters (Arundel & Wick), local ecologist Dr Jacqueline Dyer, and Councillor Taylor.

Questioned on whether they would support wind turbines in the newly-created South Downs National Park, Mr Herbert and Councillor Peters said that, while they supported on-shore wind power in appropriate locations, they would object to wind farms in the Park.

But Councillor Taylor said that he would "celebrate" wind farms on the South Downs.

Nick Herbert said: "We need to generate more energy from renewable sources and I am in favour of on-shore wind power in the right places.  But it would be totally inappropriate to site wind farms in the South Downs National Park.  This exceptional landscape must be protected.  There are many other options for small-scale renewable energy in the Park, and there's huge potential for off-shore wind just a few miles away.  I am astonished that the Green Party thinks it is acceptable to disfigure the unique South Downs landscape."

Commenting on Twitter after the debate, Ruth Chambers, Head of Policy at the Campaign for National Parks said: "Perhaps the Greens ought to read the English National Park Authorities' Association's publication 'Climate Change Mitigation & Adaptation in National Parks' to find out how to do renewables without trashing the landscape?"

In a policy statement last July, Natural England said: "It is hard to envisage the circumstances in which large scale wind developments could be accepted in protected areas owing to the landscape and environmental impacts that they would be likely to have."

Conservative PPC for Brighton Pavilion Charlotte Vere commented: "Energy from renewable sources will play a critical part in our future but there is no need to cover our National Parks with wind turbines.  I recently met E.ON, an energy generating company which is investing billions of pounds in developing an off-shore wind farm near Brighton - this is an example of the type of renewable energy projects which should be celebrated."

Ends

 

Notes for Editors

1. For Natural England's statement on wind farms in National Parks, visit http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/about_us/news/2009/240709.aspx.

2. When the National Park status for the South Downs was announced, Caroline Lucas said: "There is now an excellent set of protective measures in place here - including the EU's Habitats Directive - to ensure that the valuable natural heritage of this area is not negatively affected by future developments or planning applications - which would represent an additional success for local campaigners." To read her full statement, visit http://www.carolinelucasmep.org.uk/2009/03/31/south-east-green-euro-mp-welcomes-‘long-overdue’-national-park-status-for-south-downs/.

3. For the English National Park Authorities' Association's publication 'Climate Change Mitigation & Adaptation in National Parks', visit http://www.enpaa.org.uk/enpaa_statement_on_climate_change_in_national_parks.pdf.

4. The public debate on Friday 5 March was held at the Town Hall, Maltravers Street, Arundel, West Sussex BN18 9AP.

Ed Barker