REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive
and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 307

Revolt news 307 20/09/2010 Print (pdf) Version

1. Googling “400kV substation” finds a link for photo images from various sources. Many are from industrial groups so may aim to give a good appearance, but there is a large variety. Another search facility for such images is Pictures of pylons can similarly be found from such sources. Some may be copyrighted so we don’t display them directly.

2. CPRE has set up a letter (APPENDIX A below) from you to your MP calling for resistance to National Grid’s proposals for pylons through National Parks and AONBs and to favour undergrounding. It is very easy for you to use. Go to the home page and follow the links for the powerlines campaign.

3. A guide to sources and links for key strategic documents for UK powerline futures is given at APPENDIX B below. Feedback from readers on this guide, and other sources which might be added, would always be welcome. Figures 1 and 2 (pages 23-24) of the DECC/Ofgem Vision for 2020 give helpful summary maps of future developments for Scotland and for England & Wales respectively. But you have to go to National Grid’s Seven Year Statement (SYS) for details of projects, and even more appear in the Offshore Developments Information Statements (ODIS).

4. Apart from the large undisclosed developments for the new Lincolnshire substation (obscurely with different names in different sources: “Triton Knoll” or “Mumby”; news306), a new Mid Wales West (MIWW) substation is similarly likely to have major new developments. In both cases the future developments are on a much larger scale than those disclosed as the companies seek to establish a foothold. Maps in the ODIS statement reveal the bigger picture and should be transparently part of the initial consultations.

5. Gas Insulated Lines (GIL; news305) and their pros and cons are discussed and illustrated in section 3.3.3 of NG’s Round 3 Offshore Wind Farm Connection Study. From this report, GIL would appear relatively expensive and untried on a large scale.

APPENDIX A Internet letter set up for you by CPRE

I am really concerned about National Grid’s plans to put up thousands more 50-metre-high pylons in the countryside and would like to ask you to write to Chris Huhne, the new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, about it.

I would be grateful if you would ask Chris Huhne to:

  • Refuse proposals for new overhead transmission lines in our most important landscapes. The Government and National Grid have undertaken to follow rules stating that overhead electricity lines should avoid our finest landscapes. Yet National Grid is planning new lines of pylons through National Parks in the Lake District and Snowdonia, and across Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) in Somerset and Suffolk.
  • Encourage more of our electricity network to be run underground. We have an opportunity to ensure this is part of the national policy statement on electricity network development. National Grid currently runs less than 10% of its network underground. I know this is a more expensive option, however, studies of similar transmission lines in Europe show that costs are only about 4-5 times greater – far less than the 10-20 times that National Grid claims.
  • Get National Grid to remove over 1,000 pylons in our most beautiful countryside. The Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales, the Campaign for National Parks and the National Association for AONBs are calling for the removal of most of the pylons currently in National Parks and AONBs. Many of National Grid’s assets are nearing the end of their life and need replacing in any case. The cost of removal and (if necessary) replacement with underground cables should start as soon as possible, but could be spread over a number of years.

Thank you, I look forward to hearing the Minister’s response.

Yours sincerely,

***** *****

APPENDIX B A guide to sources and links for key UK strategy documents

There are several sources set out below. A map of the current grid is at Fig A12 of SYS (section 1 below). It can be compared with the maps showing detailed grid developments arising from offshore wind given in ODIS (section 4 below).

(1) National Grid's Seven Year Statement (SYS) This is a large document in many technical parts, accessed separately. From the home page go to UK electricity and find the link for Seven Year Statement. Then pick ‘current’ and scroll down this page for the various chapters and appendices and, lower down, individual diagrams. Note the copyright statement and its caveats.

As a helpful starting reference, Figure A12 in Appendix A shows a map with all the existing (at 31-12-09) GB transmission system lines and substations. Names of substations are important in identifying power lines. There are 365 NG substations (one for each day of the year, that’s nice) listed at Appendix B.1c. There are more in Scotland listed in other appendices.

New substations after 2009 are not shown in Figure A12 but are named in SYS sections on developments. Table B.7c of "planned developments" gives all planned new NG powerlines and substations from 2009 and continuing beyond 7 years through to 2025-6. There are 307 listed developments, including many upgrades of kit in substations which the public wouldn’t directly notice. When you know the relevant substation names it’s easy to ‘edit/find’ relevant developments.

(2) Electricity Networks Strategy Group 

The Energy Networks Strategy Group is a combination of UK industry, regulator and government bodies. It has (more or less privately) formed a 20-year strategy for grid developments to serve the expected growth of renewable energy, especially onshore and offshore windfarms. This strategy will prejudice specific powerline proposals, yet the public has not had a say in its development. From the home page click ‘reports’ to find links to key documents at:

The "Vision for 2020" published by DECC/Ofgem 4-3-09 is a 31-page pdf document (URN/09/752). Figures 1 and 2 (pages 23-24) give helpful summary maps for transmission proposals in Scotland and for all proposals in England & Wales (+ southern Scotland) respectively. These maps may be a useful starting point for identifying possible developments near you, but more searching will be needed to identify specific proposals or projects.

Two other key documents accompany the “Vision for 2020”. The 151-page ENSGR 2009-026 gives full technical background and an Addendum Report looks at 2030 generation and demand scenarios.

(3) The Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) and National Policy Statements (NPS).

From revolt news286 of 5-12-09:

8. The UK Government Department DECC has issued a Draft National Policy Statement for Electricity Networks Infrastructure (EN-5) at November 2009. This National Policy Statement (NPS), taken together with the ‘Overarching National Policy Statement for Energy: A Framework Document for Planning Decisions on Nationally Significant Energy Infrastructure’ (EN-1), provides the primary basis for decisions by the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) on powerline proposals. The consultation closes on Monday 22nd February 2010. Revolt and Powerwatch are studying the documentation with a view to responding.

Revolt’s response to the consultation was made as outlined in the Appendix to news293 of 13-2-10, as confirmed in news294.1. As at 17-9-10 the consultation website still says: “The Government is now considering the consultation responses and will publish a formal response document later in 2010.”

The draft NPS relates to the Vision for 2020 from the ENSG. Revolt’s response to the consultation identifies a concern (news293) that, in this way, industry is effectively prejudicing powerline proposals from the strategic stage to the project stage. That is because the Vision for 2020 was determined privately by industry and government, yet it specifies and constrains transmission projects in outline without public consultation.

The IPC web site maintains a list of “all anticipated and live applications”. This does not however include all strategic proposals. The page shows a UK map with applications marked. There are some 50 projects listed here in all. Many are for windfarms. Only three are for powerlines as at September 2010.

(4) Sources relating to UK offshore grid developments.

Offshore grids have been discussed both in terms of EU supergrids and for UK offshore wind connection (news295.1-4). The former are “fairly speculative” (news295) although the HVDC North Seas Countries Offshore Grid Initiative has 9-country support. The latter, i.e. for UK wind, tend to be minimal and radial rather than looped, though they can be bunched into larger connections running to large onshore substations. Costs may generally preclude offshore grid redundancy which the onshore grid provides to cope with worst-case outages of two circuits. However ENSG strategy documents include some long-distance subsea HVDC cables essentially to supplement the onshore grid.

Following the start of allocation of offshore windfarm rights in Rounds 1, 2 and 3, firm proposals are emerging for connections to the onshore grid, sometimes in new substations with new overhead line implications. An underpinning analysis was commissioned by DTI in 2006: “Grid Integration Options for Offshore Wind Farms”, with reference to specific UK wind farms and grid connections.

A further study relating to Round 3 was produced in December 2008 for the Crown Estate by National Grid and others. It presents “an indicative set” of offshore and onshore grid reinforcements for 25GW of offshore wind generation. The purpose is to help determine the offshore zones for Round 3 development.

Wind industry body EWEA co-ordinated a 2009 document including comment on EU supergrids and a map from a Greenpeace-commissioned 2008 study showing 9 onshore HVDC substations on the east UK for North Sea grids. Again, these are necessarily speculative and not firm proposals.

National Grid has Offshore Development Information Statements (ODIS). The 2009 version is in the archive section. A 2010 version is fue by the end of September. A 2010 consultation on scenarios is in the current section. The 2009 ODIS shows maps of onshore and offshore reinforcements. For example, page 43 shows the new (“Mumby” in SYS) Lincolnshire substation with three sets of 400kV double circuit lines: one to Grimsby West, one to Bicker Fen and one direct to Walpole near King’s Lyn.

***** *****

Revolt news 307 of 20-9-10 and other issues are sent bcc and free. To subscribe or unsubscribe, simply email or use the contact at the Revolt web site. Email addresses which fail for three consecutive issues will be removed in any case. For further information please see .

Statements made by the editor or by other parties and quoted for information do not necessarily represent the views of Revolt. Criticism of government and industry, and grievances from members of the public, are in the nature of Revolt's work, though we try to give credit where it is due. Revolt is strictly non-party-political and regrets any offence which may be inadvertently caused.




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