The views from the white cliffs of the Sussex coast have remained unchanged for millions of years.
But visitors to the South Downs, drawn there for the unbroken vista of rolling hills and choppy seas, could soon be faced with the sight of scores of wind turbines towering above the waves.
Energy Secretary Ed Davey has approved a £2billion project to build 175 turbines nine miles out to sea, each standing nearly 700 feet tall.
He insists the Rampion wind farm, set for completion in 2018, is essential because it will power 450,000 homes with green energy.
Mr Davey, a Liberal Democrat, said: ‘This project is great news for Sussex, providing green jobs as well as driving business opportunities right across the country in a sector with a clear roadmap for long-term growth.’
But opponents, including the National Trust and the South Downs National Park, say the view from landmarks such as Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters cliffs, and towns including Brighton and Eastbourne, will be spoiled for ever.
Depending on the terms of the contract that German developer E.on signs with the Government, it can be expected to receive up to £200million a year in subsidies, critics say.
The National Trust, which owns sections of the Sussex coast, has formally objected to the project.
In a letter to the Government’s planning inspectorate, the Trust said: ‘The beauty of the coastline matters to the nation.
‘The impact of the proposal on the designated assets of the National Park and heritage coast, on the landscape and seascape character of the area, on important visual receptors and on key National Trust sites is considered to be major.’
The decision was handled by Mr Davey and his energy department because it is considered a major infrastructure project, providing a large chunk of the nation’s electricity needs.