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REVOLT Powerline Concerns Health Hazards Need UK Energy Policy

Chairman's Report September 1999


Annual General Meeting

This year's AGM will be held at 7.30 p.m. on Thursday 14th October 1999 at Thirsk Town Hall. The formal meeting will be short. An open forum discussion will follow for people to give their views. Members of the public are welcome. Nominations for the REVOLT Committee would also be welcome. They should be made to:

Robert Adamson, Secretary of REVOLT, Asgard, Sessay, Thirsk YO7 3BE tel/fax 01845 501058
email robert@admson.freeserve.co.uk
A meeting for the new committee will be held Thursday 21 October at the same time and place.

Chairmans Report

Landowners and occupiers

Do please note you are entitled to turn away NGC or its contractors such as AMEC and Fountain Forestry unless they have their papers in order and have given due notice. REVOLT will be pleased to check the notices free. NGC has consistently failed to get it right and has successfully been refused entry on several occasions. Note the sample letter on the back page of this leaflet.

Similarly NGC’s wayleave powers do not entitle them to do as they wish. They must agree any access arrangements with you. They have been successfully confined to the narrow strip of the grid line itself on at least one farm. You are entitled to do so if you wish.

Likewise NGC requires your agreement for access for undergrounding. They told the inquiries they would only install a half rated underground line in the first instance. That would limit the swathe to 7 metres instead of 40. Installing the rest later would only need another 7 metres. You are entitled to press for this.

Parish Clerks and Councils and Village Groups

The immediate issue facing you is NGC/AMEC’s applications to Hambleton DC for planning permission for road accesses. There are to be about 50 but NGC is doing it piecemeal, holding back half of them. If you don’t make objections they will be approved by default. Parish Councils and residents are entitled to object. Clerks have a duty to inform and consult residents. You have only 21 days’ notice to object. The impacts are likely to be severe on the whole parish, with hundreds of heavy vehicles and 7-day working. Details are available at Hambleton DC.

Chairman's Report   September 1999

The public expected to protest at construction sites this year. NGC planned to have six pylons per week completed in August. Sustained protest and NGC bungling have prevented that.

What chance of stopping the line? It is unnecessary and against the trend of energy policy. Common sense ought to prevail. Consent given last year cannot be reversed, but it could be left on the shelf if other outstanding permissions are withheld. We are trying to get Government to see sense and press NGC to think again. Insiders hint that NGC are having second thoughts at a high level, though wayleave and PR officers will deny it. It's not impossible, and every delay helps.

National Power has approached Ofgem (formerly OFFER) to close the 1082 MW Blyth A and B power stations. That is crucial to NGC's case for the line, at least for Picton-Shipton. NGC say the point was dismissed in the 1992 inquiries and closing Blyth would still leave the system non- compliant. But it would reduce north-east generation below 1980s levels when the existing grid was ample. Remaining non-compliance would be cured without the line. We have a strong case.

Another big issue this year is the Middleton Gap. Some 160 metres of line over the Leven Valley at Middleton were rejected in error. Well spotted Diane Baines of Hambleton DC! The matter lies before Secretary of State Stephen Byers right now. Hambleton, Revolt and others have called for the inquiries to be reopened. The Pye family who own the land have applied for planning permission for an organic chicken farm, which could block NGC's permission.

On the ground, NGC has been doing a soil survey using a heavy tracked vehicle. They are legally required to issue a special notice for soil sampling, and have failed to get it right. Landowners are entitled to refuse entry. Revolt can get any notice received by landowners legally checked free. The Bellerbys and Chapmans and others at Kirby Sigston and the Gills at Alne successfully turned them away on legal advice. Landowners should not be browbeaten. Get advice from us.

NGC turned particularly nasty at East Harlsey where Harold Carter pressed a police charge against young farmer James Thompson. The evidence was inconsistent and exaggerated and the case thrown out by the Judge at Teesside Crown Court, who severely criticised those bringing it. The incident came on the back of intimidation of farmer's wife Jackie Bellerby by Charles Waite, who tried to open the farmhouse door, banging and shouting at her. The NFU asked for Harold Carter's dismissal. Revolt has asked for him to be taken off the project.

More wayleave hearings were held this year. The Wilkinsons' was a shambles conducted by inspector Mr Walker, memorable for his 1995 pledge to get the line through. Willie Osborne did not appear at his in protest at its unfairness. The Kilvington Estate defended staunchly in the face of astonishing bullying by Inspector Mr Dolbey Jones who refused to hear most of our evidence. At the site visit he even threatened Peter Johnson with physical violence in order to confiscate his camera! Serious and detailed complaints have been lodged with Secretary of State.

The scope of wayleave powers was debated at the hearings. NGC started out with their common ploy of demanding they had access to the whole of the landowner's land. They backed off as we argued that they only had wayleave powers over the thin "green line". They are not entitled to choose any access routes they like, contrary to their bullying approach to farmers. They must negotiate and agree routes with the farmers. Willie Osborne has demonstrated this by forcing them to agree to access strictly along the grid line and nowhere else on his land. Our point is confirmed in the Government response to Anne McIntosh's adjournment debate of 12.5.99.

We hear that 2,800 trees are for the chop to make way for the grid line. But NGC is hiding the truth. They have provided details of threatened trees only in a few sites of Nature Conservation Interest, where they are required to do so. Anne McIntosh MP is pressing for disclosure. But NGC is keeping it secret, backed by DTI. Shameful!

NGC are even making a hash of undergrounding. They said at the inquiries that they would only install a half rated line underground in the first instance. This makes a big difference, a 7 metre swathe as against 40 metres. The Parrish family in Middlesbrough are resisting NGC's attempts to force this extra damage threatening hundreds of trees. Revolt has objected to the CPOs.

NGC require two more things, agreement of local authorities to Conditions and planning permission for access works from public roads. Conditions have caused changes to NGC's plans and NYCC blocked the line completely at Thirsk. Another appeal to Sec of State is likely. Access has created serious problems for NGC. Their applications contain major departures from the story they gave at the inquiries. There will be 10 times more vehicles and 4 times the maximum vehicle weight, to mention just two issues. Hambleton deferred consideration because of the difficulties.

Revolt has studied and responded to many Government papers and other technical and health reports over the year. The DTI Fuels Review, DETR Climate Change, NIEHS EMF-RAPID Report and the TNEI North East Energy Strategy are a few which are helpful. Technical representations have been made on the closure of Blyth, the Middleton Gap and other issues.

There has been a stream of publicity in the press, radio and TV. Outdoor pictures and action on the ground are favourite, but TTTV did a good piece this month with technical content. They drew a large public reaction from quoting NRPB on the health issue, acknowledging the possibility that exposure to power line electromagnetic fields might promote cancer growth. It has been accepted for years of course, but usually suppressed by NGC and government.

At times we issued regular press releases, widely distributed, which is a lot of work. The web site www.revolt.co.uk has been superbly managed by Rik Royall and helps a lot with press releases, our own reports and links to external information. But few journalists are linked up yet.

My grateful thanks go to our committee and to the many volunteers who continue to make such an impact. An injection of new blood helped this year, but there is always more work than we can cover. Several farmers have added extra impact with active resistance. Members' efforts have not been in vain. You have saved the country over 3 billion already! That is the enormous value of wasted energy that this line would promote over a six year period. Well done everyone.

Mike O'Carroll, Chairman

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