The first wind turbine in Brighton and Hove could be built at the heart of a £2 million energy- efficient business centre.

Plans for a turbine to be incorporated in the Westergate House project in Moulsecoomb Way, Brighton, will be discussed at the city council's planning committee on Wednesday.

The flagship business centre is jointly funded by Government regeneration organisation eb4U and the South-East England Development Agency.

It has been formulated by Brighton and Hove City Council and Brighton and Hove Regeneration Partnership.

It will have an array of environmentally friendly features including solar water heating and "growing walls" planted with vegetation.

The 15m-high wind turbine would power public areas in ten of the 20 industrial units on the site managed and rented out to smaller businesses by eb4U.

Any excess electricity would be sold back to the national grid.

Planning officials have recommended councillors approve the application providing that details about its appearance are submitted before building begins.

The turbine is likely to be black, dark green or dark brown to blend in with the backdrop of trees and would not be seen from most houses.

A council spokeswoman said: "It is an exciting, innovative project and one of the most environmentally sustainable developments in the South-East.

"If it is given the go-ahead, this wind turbine will be the first to be built in the city.

"It is a small but important part of the development and means Westergate House will be the first building in the city to use renewable wind energy."

Councillor Keith Taylor, a Green Party leader, said: "We welcome all initiatives to create energy from renewable sources. Every little contribution to reducing carbon emissions adds to the overall effort. This is a good start and we want to see more wind turbines in Brighton and Hove."

Councillor Paul Elgood, leader of the Liberal Democrats, supported the proposal.

He said: "It is exactly the kind of thing the city needs to address the issues of renewable energy and sustainable development. It will be interesting to see how local residents feel."

Tory environment spokesman Councillor Ted Kemble agreed.

He said: "We are looking at all alternative forms of renewable energy and this seems a very welcome proposal."

Labour councillor Craig Turton, environment committee vice-chairman, added his support.

He said: "As a council we need to look more at alternative environmentally-friendly forms of energy. Wind power seems an obvious choice. The potential with the South Downs and the sea is enormous."

There were fears residents in some areas would suffer interference to their TV signal but, after carrying out an investigation, the council has said this is unlikely.

The spokeswoman said: "The turbine will not be built until we have received final confirmation from Ofcom and other relevant organisations that it will not cause interference.

"We consulted with Ofcom and the BBC at an early stage and they are confident that, due to the modest scale and siting of the turbine, interference will not be an issue."

Concerns wildlife will be affected by the turbine have also been raised. Fatalities of bats and birds will be recorded for five years.

April 22, 2005