REVOLT calls for the NGC Picton-Shipton 400kV line to be abandoned, and the Lackenby-Picton line to be teed in to the existing line at Picton with the consequent removal of the 275kV Lackenby-Crathorne-Norton line. Delay and difficulty for NGC and its contractors will help.
(a) NGC want the line for commercial purposes - it is not needed to secure public electricity supply, (b) NGC's case for the new line was contrived with much misinformation, (c) the closure of the Blyth power stations reduces the case for the Picton-Shipton line to a stability condition normally solved by simpler means, (d) the new line would promote an avoidable huge waste of energy and money (over £500 million per year) with a huge impact on global warming, (e) severe visual impact would ruin countryside treasured by local families and visitors alike, (f) new research in 2000 on health effects requires a precautionary approach.
NGC face three main legal requirements: consent, wayleaves and access. Consent (under the Electricity Act) was given in March 1998 with numerous conditions which NGC must observe. These conditions are NOT all resolved, contrary to NGC's letters to landowners. Wayleaves have been obtained as compulsory powers over objecting landowners, though one remains undetermined at Rounton Gates. Access requires planning and highways permission for verge crossings and the agreement of landowners for routes across private land; in many cases these are not yet obtained. Although Secretary of State, under one of the consent conditions, gave permission 25.7.00 for work to start, other legal requirements are not all in place.
Evidence shows NGC cuts corners and acts illegally. You are entitled to protest to stop it doing so. By keeping NGC to the letter of the law, delay will help defeat the project, especially as energy policy and health evidence develop.
Objectors are advised to protest on the legally justified basis as above. REVOLT will provide a solicitor's letter in support of its guidance. In particular:
- Turn up to make a physical protest and stand in NGC's way. Have a friend (witness) with you. If possible use a camera or camcorder to record evidence. Use this note to argue your point.
- Do not cause violence or damage - you have a good legal basis to protest.
- Obey the police - you have no need to get yourself arrested. If the police are unreasonable, contact REVOLT to use the formal complaints process.
- Do not trespass on private land - REVOLT will seek landowners' permission for entry and will respect landowners' wishes. Landowners have acted heroically for the local community.
- You may use the public roads with your vehicles to visit protest sites, even if this causes congestion or blockage to contractors. Note deliberate obstruction of the highway is an offence, so to avoid it obey the police.
1. Access on to private land
NGC needs the landowner's agreement to go on private land for this work. If anything (e.g. route or compensation) is disputed, you can support the landowner by standing in the way of NGC. Environment Minister Nick Raynsford gave this government response to Parliament 12.5.99 (Hansard column 394): “Although the wayleave identifies the line and the land in question, the detailed implementation of these rights - for example, agreeing working areas and access routes - is a matter for discussion and agreement between the landowner and the company. Obviously, given the different circumstances in different areas, there have to be agreements between the parties to ensure the minimum disruption and the most satisfactory arrangement to avoid causing inconvenience to the landowner”. Note the objective in favour of the landowner!
2. Working in the dry
A key condition of consent (TPA condition 11 in DTI letter 26.3.98) is: “Work in connection with the development shall be undertaken in dry weather conditions and when the soil is in a dry state.” At parish meetings NGC has said it will go by its 10 inch rut rule, i.e. if its vehicles make less than 10 inch ruts it will do the work. That is not acceptable. Protesters may stand in the way to prevent violation of this condition, when in our view the soil is not in a dry state. We expect that will rule out work for most of the winter season. This applies literally to all work in connection with the project, whether on farm land or roads. At a consultative meeting with REVOLT, North Yorkshire CC put a view that mud on roads was also a safety consideration.
Secretary of State agreed 24.7.00 a tree replacement scheme which fails to satisfy the stated reason for requiring a scheme: “To preserve the environment by ensuring the replacement of the trees felled as a result of the development.” The approved scheme relies on land volunteered without compensation, and therefore ensures nothing, and is less viable than an alternative scheme with compensation would be. The Secretary of State's flawed decision is being challenged legally by REVOLT. While these matters are proceeding, NGC should not proceed to fell trees. Even without the landowner's permission, you may stand in the way of NGC gaining access to the land in order to defend the trees in the public interest.
New research from Dr Alan Preece of Bristol University shows increased incidence of cancer related to living within 500 metres of powerlines, especially down wind, in line with Professor Henshaw's physics research on the effect of powerlines on contaminated particles in the air. This work is not yet evaluated but underlines a new physically plausible basis for risk on a larger scale than previous work. You may protest against NGC proceeding before this research is evaluated. Affected villages include West Rounton, Borrowby, Knayton, Sessay and Huby. REVOLT will call for a moratorium on new lines pending further research and will give NGC notice of legal action.
5. Human rights and action for the greater good
The Human Rights law incorporated into English law this week defends your right to the peaceful enjoyment of your possessions and your home. REVOLT will assist those whose homes would be penetrated by magnetic fields (as at Nunthorpe). Greenpeace protesters were last month cleared of damaging crops as they believed it was to prevent greater environmental damage. Our case is stronger, in resisting a huge effect on global warming as well as on homes and amenity, but we do not advocate causing damage, simply stand in the way of NGC's damage.
A Three Tun Web