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Glyndebourne's turbine

The opera house at Glyndebourne has installed a new wind turbine, a story covered in gratuitous detail by the Guardian.

"That is just so beautiful," sighed Brenda Sherrard, as Sir David Attenborough and Verity Cannings, deputy head girl at Ringmer community college, wrestled with the green ribbon wrapped around the 44-metre mast of the first wind turbine to power a major UK arts institution.

I was struck by this quote from the aforementioned deputy head girl at the local college.

I don't get how anyone can object to it. In a few years' time they won't even notice it. In another few years, if we don't do something about climate change, this view won't be here anyway because we'll all be under water.

It would be inappropriate, I think, to criticise Ms Cannings, who is, after all, rather young. But what do her extraordinary ideas tell us about the education system in this country? And should we be concerned that the Guardian reports this nonsense?

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Reader Comments (75)

" It will also be powering the fridges chilling the champagne" So what gas do they think produces the bubbles in champagne? I bet there is more CO2 released into the atmosphere by what these people drink and breathe than what is saved by their windmill.

Jan 21, 2012 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Whale

The young one is of course but a victim of the relentless campaigning inspired by fears about CO2.

Her school seems to be way out front on the 'sustainability' wheeze: 'Our work has also been recognised in a series of national awards. These include the Ashden Award given to the school in the UK showing the best means of energy usage, the Teacher Award for our work on sustainability, the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust Award for sustainability and most recently Ringmer has been chosen to be one of the twelve UK schools to act as Ambassadors on sustainability at the 2012 Olympics..' (

If you were a schoolchild, and you were led to believe that you would be underwater in a few years if 'we' don't do something about CO2, you'd be inclined to support the windturbine too. Especially if you had also been led to believe that it will reduce CO2 emissions. It may also spoil a picnic or two if the sorts of thing shown in these pictures ( should happen to it.

But you can't fool all of the pupils all of the time:

'“Any time we have a meeting of 100 teachers, if you ask whether they’re running into pushback on teaching climate change, 50 will raise their hands,” said Frank Niepold, climate education coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who meets with hundreds of teachers annually. “We ask questions about how sizable it is, and they tell us it is [sizable] and pretty persistent, from many places: your administration, parents, students, even your own family.” '

Jan 21, 2012 at 2:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Deputy Head Girl Verity Cannings may be young but cannot be far off voting age, which gives pause for thought.

Attenborough is old enough to know better than to spout this nonsense; "If people don't like the rhythmic puffy noise it makes then that's their choice...." But it isn't, is it Dave ? That's the point. The objectors had no say in the matter.

Jan 21, 2012 at 2:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Crawford

Wasn't Glyndebourne always the most egregious example of the transfer of money from the poor to the rich in the name of culture? Adding a heavily subsidised windmill to chill the champagne and run the wind machine for Brunhilda's hair is simply carrying on the tradition of having money stolen by our betters.

Jan 21, 2012 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterRyan Roberts


As far as I know, Glyndebourne receives no public subsidy. So what transfer from the poor to the rich do you have in mind?

Jan 21, 2012 at 2:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Wow. That's some pretty special kind of stupid. I think Michael Gove should know there's a failing school, right there.

Jan 21, 2012 at 2:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-record

if it really is true that in a few years the South Downs will be under water, then we had better panic.

Jan 21, 2012 at 3:00 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes


"Glyndebourne Touring Opera & Education will receive £1,498,978 in 2008/2009, £1,539,451 in 2009/2010, £1,573,111 in 2010/2011 and £1,464,566 in 2011/2012.

As a national portfolio organisation, Glyndebourne Touring Opera & Education has been offered £1,700,000 in 2012/2013, £1,700,000 in 2013/2014 and £1,700,000 in 2014/2015. This is subject to a funding agreement being agreed."

From the Art Council England website - no link to save His Grace having to approve.

Jan 21, 2012 at 3:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterFergalR

So they are going to have a wind turbine running, generating a rhythmic noise from the blades, as they perform in the opera house.
I wonder how long it will be before the switch it of during performances.

Jan 21, 2012 at 3:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS


That's the Touring Company. Performances at Glyndebourne itself rely on Corporate sponsorship.

The good news is that if they want to perform Massenet's Don Quichotte they have a ready-made set:

Jan 21, 2012 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

In a few years' time they won't even notice it.

Given the failure rate of the damn things, I am sure she is right. It will be a waste of £ 1.5 million.

Jan 21, 2012 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

10 year time we will all be underwater


Start using that expression in news paper comment sections
They hate it

Jan 21, 2012 at 3:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

David Attenborough:

"If people don't like the rhythmic puffy noise it makes then that's their choice, but I can't help feeling such people haven't really grasped where energy comes from. What do they imagine happens when they turn on a light switch or drive their cars?"

Attenborough is clueless and should be kept in a zoo where he can study polar bears to his heart's content. I'm sure most people here realise that when they turn on a light switch a wind turbine doesn't magically start to operate.

The planning officers of Lewes District Council recommended the proposal be rejected because of the significant harm the turbine would cause to the Sussex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a landscape protected by national, regional and local countryside protection policies. Surprisingly, it was approved by the councillors, but there are a lot of greens down there.

People ultimately didn't have a voice in the decision, it was made by a Government Inspector. The Secretary of State at the time, Hazel Blears, called in the application for an inquiry because of the harm it would do to the proposed South Downs National Park. It was opposed by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Council for National Parks, the Open Spaces Society, the Ramblers Association and the South Downs Society. It was claimed by the South Downs Society that it would be the biggest turbine in a national park, as tall as a 24-storey skyscraper, and it would be visible over hundreds of square miles.

Still, now it's operating, it will be useful to hold back the rising tide and the opera goers will be able to hear it and feel it whilst drinking their champers.

Jan 21, 2012 at 3:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Notice there's no comments section on that story

What they scared off

Jan 21, 2012 at 3:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

IIRR the measured wind regime turned out to be less than the modelled one which orignially supported the application.

Jan 21, 2012 at 3:43 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Senile Dementia creeping up on Attenborough, to think I used to admire the man! Can I stop banging my head on the desk now? Sod it, pub time here in Cyprus and I will struggle to stop thinking about how greasy that Guardian article is! Have a good evening guys

Jan 21, 2012 at 4:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

The measured wind regime is always a lot less than they assume. Developers usually exaggerate the capacity factor by about 50%. However, the precedent for exaggeration was set by the BWEA (now RenewableUK) and the Government believed what the lobbyists for the wind industry told them.

Jan 21, 2012 at 4:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

The young lady's comment is rather sad. Something that large is an eyesore for miles and miles, and I understand the noise is horrible. And surely someone will notice the dead birds and bats?

Jan 21, 2012 at 4:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterearthdog

I have left a comment on their web-=site:

Jan 21, 2012 at 4:53 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

I have read the FAQs on the web-site. They admit that they expect the output from this thing to be lower during the summer months when they actually produce operas. So, like all wind things, it produces power when you do not need it and not enough power when you do need it.

The insanity and hypocrisy of it all!

Jan 21, 2012 at 4:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Louise (miss cut-and-paste has a similar article at the DT; There is a bit of sense though.

But Prof Tony Parker, a retired engineer leading protests in the nearby village, said the “whumpf, whumpf” noise of the turbine was already causing a nuisance – even in moderate winds.
He said the noise could be a serious problem during the opera summer festival when hundreds of people picnic in the grounds of the country house.
He estimated that the 900KW turbine will also be one of the most inefficient in the country, only generating power 17 per cent of the time.
“It’s output is abysmal and the noise is already a problem,” he said.

Jan 21, 2012 at 5:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I've posted the following at the Glyndebourne site. I doubt it will get past the moderators.

Unfortunately, Sir David is not an expert on energy technology or on our electricity supply system. It is now known that wind turbines can actually lead to an increase in CO2 emissions. This is particularly the case for turbines with a low capacity factor, such as this one. This turbine is almost certain to increase CO2 emissions (increase Glyndebourne's carbon [sic] footprint), it will be noisy and it will seriously damage the landscape.

The only good thing that can be said about it is that, because of the huge subsidy that consumers pay for the electricity it will occasionally produce, Glyndebourne will make a profit from it. Mind you it will increase fuel poverty as it is the poor who struggle to pay their electricity bills. I don't suppose the opera goers worry about those in fuel poverty.

Jan 21, 2012 at 5:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Phillip - as I recall the initial application used the NOABL dataset but LDC requested a fully monitored one. This was reported in the revised application and was actually a reasonable piece of work. I think the difference in Eout for modelled vs. actual was of the order of 10-15%. Long time since I looked at it so I could be wrong - I had the docs on an old machine but I'd guess they are still available via the LDC planning website if you wanted to have a look.

Jan 21, 2012 at 5:15 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Last year out of boredom I ended up watching Teachers TV documentary on how climate change could be taught/propagandised. The school shown here in the UK had its own wind turbine which the show said was used in teaching. I thought this had some promise since the children could use a PC to log the turbines power output over time while comparing that to the schools power consumption. In one lesson you could be combining maths,physics and IT all while finding out just how useful (cough) these turbines really are. Actually nothing like this was done. The poor children were subject to the same propaganda Ms Cannings was while the turbine appeared to have the role that a holy relic once had in that the pupils took photos of it to put in Powerpoint presentations but weren't allowed to touch it or think to deeply about it.

Jan 21, 2012 at 5:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterStab11

I checked the height of the South Downs - highest point 271m. According to Cohen and Small, PNAS 1998, about a third of the world's population live below 100m and the median point is 194m. [I think this paper has more validity than another publication in 1998]

So if Verity Cannings is right up to half the world's population will drown or have to move in the next few years. It's obviously a lot worse than we thought!

Jan 21, 2012 at 5:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Hewitt

I fear that exaggerated concern for the state of the environment is now what passes for morality amongst the young. This won't end nicely.

Jan 21, 2012 at 5:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

I wonder if they will be staging Wagner's Götterdämmerung

Jan 21, 2012 at 6:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

Glyndebourne. Opera House, gardens and windmill.

Jan 21, 2012 at 6:55 PM | Unregistered Commentermartyn

Re Anoneumouse

If they do, they can just set the windmill to blow instead of suck (subsidies).. Although I guess it'd be about as efficient at being a stage wind machine as it is at generating useful power.

Jan 21, 2012 at 6:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

This deputy head girl will go far. Being a team player is more important than being correct or thinking for yourself. I'm not sure what Attenborough's excuse is.

Jan 21, 2012 at 7:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterBoris

"we'll all be under water"

Pumped storage I presume?

Jan 21, 2012 at 8:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

It all goes to prove that being brain dead is not fatal.

Jan 21, 2012 at 8:08 PM | Unregistered Commenteragwnonsense


I wonder if they will be staging Wagner's Götterdämmerung.

Actually, I think Act III of Die Walküre which starts with Walkürenritt or The Ride of the Valkyries would be far more interesting -- we could sit and watch the Valkyries get whacked one by one by that machine's spinning blades -- just more birds as far as it would be concerned.

Jan 21, 2012 at 8:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

@Pete H:

As you say you're in Cyprus, I wonder if you get to north of Limassol? My twin lives up in the Troodos, so if you're ever around the Magic Teapot in Agios Georgios across the valley from Lania, you can ask him how his brother goes on about AGW! :-) (He'll be the one with the Cornish wife.

Jan 21, 2012 at 8:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

@ Don Pablo de la Sierra

It was to the Valkyrie I was eluding. Particularly the 'fat lady' Brünnhilde.

Jan 21, 2012 at 8:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

@Nicholas Hallam

I would be even more general...

exaggerated concern for the state of the environment is now what passes for morality

"Environmentalism" is the new religion.

This theme is developed by many writers including Michael Crichton:

Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it's a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.

There's an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there's a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.

Jan 21, 2012 at 8:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes


Particularly the 'fat lady' Brünnhilde

AKA Angela Merkel?

Jan 21, 2012 at 8:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Jack Hughes

Exactly. Where is Michael Crichton now that we need him? Pity we lost him so young

Jan 21, 2012 at 8:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Wind energy requires 5 times the steel and concrete per MW generated compared with nuclear (according to Patrick Moore).

Some of our best export from NZ is high quality coal used for steel manufacture in China and India. I'd like to bet that some of that made it into the Glyndebourne turbine.

Jan 21, 2012 at 8:57 PM | Unregistered Commenterandy scrase

Phillip, your prediction that your comment would be spiked seems to be correct (at least at 9pm today...). They write: "Please note that Glyndebourne reserves the right to remove comments which are deemed inappropriate." Your comment was worded extremely politely and factually (except perhaps the little - mild - dig at the end). Amazing how the internet has allowed a whole new form of censorship to arise (or necessitated it, depending on your point of view...).

Jan 21, 2012 at 9:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Harvey


A Cypriot mate of mine back in the 60's while studying geology was always on about the Troodos Mts. In fact they are rather exceptional, being a geologically recent massively uplifted piece of oceanic crust caused by collision of the Eurasian plate to the north and the African plate to the south. The association of serpentinised ophiolitic basic rocks radiolarian cherts and pillow lavas used to be taught as the geosynclinal 'Steinmann Trinity', in the days prior to plate tectonics. The association remains. The geological model changes.

Jan 21, 2012 at 10:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

jamspid - thanks for the link about climate porn: I had not seen it before.

But it explains perfectly why readership of The Independent is sinking so low, so quickly. A family member once told me that this newspaper was the only one that could be relied upon to provide unbiased commentary on the issue ...

What do you call soemone who reads and enjoys climate porn? Climate w****r!

Jan 21, 2012 at 10:48 PM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

How far is the windthing from the Opera house open ground? I wonder if this story will simply end up in human ragout.

Jan 21, 2012 at 11:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

The 25m contour passes through Glyndebourne
I have previously, somewhere, suggested that some slack be cut for Attenbore, as he doesn't write the scripts to his Aahh Look! programmes. I now declare that I don't care what is said.

Jan 21, 2012 at 11:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterFilbert Cobb

It is a very worrying fact that facts don't matter any more.

Jan 21, 2012 at 11:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterPatagon

Maurizio, they are cagey about saying where it is on the site, although there is a map on the planning application. It will probably be invisible from the picnic ground, despite pople telling us how wonderful it looks. But public footpaths come within 100m of the useless structure.

Jan 21, 2012 at 11:38 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Maybe it will burn down like the others did. That would be a great Wagnerian ending.

Jan 22, 2012 at 12:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Google has some images showing it's visibility from around the hall and picnic area. Wonder what Glyndebourne's bats will make of it? What it will make of them is pretty obvious. The BBC's PR does provide a nice test case to demonstrate how good renewables are though:

"Glyndebourne's 2012 Festival will be its first to run on wind power."

Disconnect it from the grid, watch what happens.

Jan 22, 2012 at 12:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

From the official website:

It is estimated, on the basis of data supplied by a meteorological mast located on the site of the turbine for 12 months to October 2009, this data then being analysed in conjunction with 14 years of official data recorded at the nearest weather station, that the turbine will on average supply 90% of Glyndebourne’s annual electricity requirements

Oh really?

Jan 22, 2012 at 1:38 AM | Unregistered Commenterandy scrase

Run for the hills.
We're all doomed.
Doomed. I tell you.
(you can believe me - I'm not a dentist).

Jan 22, 2012 at 2:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterAusieDan

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