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Cornish energy centre waits on £1m government lifeline

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The future of the Gaia Energy Centre in Cornwall by Edward Cullinan Architects is in the balance as the government decides whether to provide the final £1 million it needs to begin construction.

The £5 million centre is to be located on the UK's first wind farm at Delabole and the London-based practice has been commissioned to produce a visitor centre incorporating the latest renewable energy technologies by the Gaia Trust. These include a photovoltaic roof, highly-insulated swimming pool-sized water tanks to store heat during summer for release during the winter, and an anaerobic digester which combines sewage with kitchen waste to provide high-strength fertiliser. The scheme will also include a theatre to cater for the thousands of school children who travel to the wind farm each year on educational visits.

'This is a ready-made demonstration project for the government's new interest in sustainability, ' said project architect Roddy Langmuir.

The client, the Gaia Trust, made its application to the government last week and hopes to receive funding from a special regeneration budget for Cornwall. The finance application coincided with the announcement of a new Sustainable Development Commission which will be led by Jonathon Porritt and will report directly to prime minister Tony Blair (AJ 27.7.00).

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