REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive
and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 311

Revolt news 311 2/11/2010 Print (pdf) Version

1. As a public interest group, Revolt has been asked to help recruitment for next year’s census. The full census every ten years provides an important data set. It is to take place on 27 March 2011. Recruitment is underway for over 35,000 temporary vacancies.

2. Some cordless phones (and wi-fi) combine microwave frequencies with pulsing in the ELF range which includes power-frequency. Powerwatch reviewed a new paper on their effects on sensitive people: DECT Cordless phones which transmit a pulsed signal have been shown to impact heart rate in new research published in the European Journal of Oncology. "What we found is what many people have said for a long time about devices that emit microwaves," stated Dr. Havas. "People don't just feel ill, their heart begins to race and this is measurable with medical heart monitoring devices." This is an important result in that it uses double-blind tests of sensitive people against non-sensitive people, and the effects are physically measurable not just subjective. Other provocation studies of real versus sham exposure on sensitive people were dogged by control issues and were seen as showing no clear effect.

3. Under the heading “Scams Galore”, Microwave News 20-10-10 describes many and shocking scams preying on people’s fears of EMF by selling useless but expensive devices.

4. Stour Valley Underground (SVU) newsletter 25-10-10 lists six other groups in its consortium campaigning to bury the proposed National Grid Bramford-Twinstead 400kV line. A list of key points is copied at APPENDIX A.

5. We should however await the forthcoming NG-commissioned study of costs of underground cables. The SVU site estimates the cost of burying a Bramford-Twinstead line in a tunnel as around £300 million, being £160M tunnel cost (by comparison with a contract for Costains in London) plus £140M for a GIL cable based on Siemens statement of unit cost. There may be additional costs associated with the project (e.g. planning, land and legal issues) and also power capacity needs to be considered. The Siemens link given on the SVU website claims “up to 3,700 MVA per system”, which would more than match a typical 400kV overhead line circuit, depending on definitions of capacity. It may be two “systems” or circuits are required, which would add another £140M to the basic cost based on SVU estimates. Further details are awaited with interest.

6. Caroline Paterson reports from Scotland "We are still battling on up here – had our protest in the streets of Stirling last Friday – and are now in the response period to Scottish Power for their mitigation which comprises hedges, native trees and grey paint (in special scenic areas!)."

7. Caroline also reports an update from Simon Allen of Europacable, acting for Stirling Council, rebutting Scottish Power’s case on undergrounding. An extract is at APPENDIX B below, with important comparisons with other countries.

8. David Holland of SVU has submitted a formal complaint to the BBC regarding a BBC4 programme Secret Life of National Grid on 26 October. In a long explanation he writes on underground / overhead costs “The figure of 12-17 times which you screen  is continually trotted out by National Grid in their "public consultation events" and yet is clearly wrong.” He adds that Gas Insulated Lines (GIL) “can carry the vast power needed in our grid (circa 3 GW per circuit, Ref. below), is more reliable than pylons and lines and considered over its whole life, is no more costly than the overground alternative”.

9. Andrew Hope, of the group STOP in mid Wales, comments on key sources on UK grid development:

"Ofgem "Project Discovery" has similar scenarios to ODIS 2010 but aimed at the Energy Market. Discovery defines 5 "Stress Tests" that must be applied to prevent future catastrophe. What is interesting about this is the extent to which 400kV new and reinforcement lines may be proposed as insurance against world commodity price decisions. UKERC has done some stress modelling on this and their consultation comments are interesting.

The odds of a near future electrical equivalent to the Bacton /Gemini 100% gas outage seem very high but what seems very odd is the proposed reliance on offshore wind as backup. This may explain the Angle Gas power station/Milford Haven LNG terminal being seen as a Bacton waiting to happen and an interconnector to Angle would alleviate this."

10. Andrew Hope also writes on grid developments around Wales, at APPENDIX C below.


APPENDIX A Key points in SVU newsletter October 2010

  • Our coalition of campaigning groups grows
  • National Grid's corridor decision is delayed until the new year
  • Pressure from campaign groups starts to show real results
  • The Government tells National Grid to properly research underground cabling costs
  • Draft National Policy Statements are released still containing Government misconceptions with respect to underground cables, their costs and reliability
  • National Grid sign a contract with civil engineer's Costain to build a £200 million cable tunnel which means a similar one here from Bramford to Twinstead would cost £360 million complete
  • The publicly available details of the contract show that undergrounding costs more like 4 times the cost of lines of pylons and nothing like the missleading 12-17 times claims of National Grid
  • Our calculations show that a London style tunnel plus Siemens GIL underground cables from Bramford to Twinstead would cost around £300 million
  • The BBC swallows NG propaganda in BBC 4's History of the National Grid documentary and wrongly quotes underground cable costs as being 17 times that for pylons 
  • Scottish Power Renewables and Vattenfall (SPN&V)  announce the huge 7.2 gigawatt Anglia 1 windfarm off the Norfolk/ Suffolk coast and National Grid offer connection at Bramford
  • SPN&V announce that they will do their best to effect the connection from the sea to Bramford underground
  • We show that the connection offer from NG is not the best choice and causes a transmission bottleneck at Bramford
  • We present a better way to connect the windfarm that avoids more pylons and makes best use of existing infrastructure
  • We meet with Essex councils and present a more regional and strategic view of the pylons issue
  • We call for collaboration between the county councils of East Anglia to develop a response to National Grids proposals to what is a region wide environmental threat from the energy industry


APPENDIX B Extract from Simon Allen’s rebuttal on undergrounding:
(TSO = Transmission System Operator)

TSOs in the Netherlands and Germany are currently planning the partial undergrounding of several new 400kV lines with a similar capacity to Beauly Denny in response to legislation or policies recently introduced by their governments that restrict the construction of new OHL in close proximity to residential dwellings and/or to speed up the authorisation of new transmission lines.

In the Netherlands, new OHL are not allowed within 300m of buildings unless a new design “Wintrack” pylon (which emits a lower EMF) is used and for every kilometre of new OHL, a kilometre of UGC must be built. The Dutch TSO (Tennet) have decided to underground two 10km sections of cable along the Randstad 380kV project, which forms part of the backbone of the Dutch EHV transmission system. The new cable sections will have a capacity of around 2,640 MVA and are 2 cables/phase (i.e. 12 cables). The section from Wateringen to Blieswijk is expected to be in operation in 2012 and the section from Blieswijk to Beverwijk in 2014.

In Germany, plans are being advanced for 4 “pilot projects” that will be built in the next few years. Federal Legislation (“Enlag”) introduced in 2009 requires a TSO to consider undergrounding if a proposed new transmission line passes within 200m of individual houses or 400m of housing developments in urban areas and the regulator has authorised the recovery of any additional costs on the pilot projects through the transmission tariff. It is hoped that the first of these partially underground lines will be operational by 2015.


APPENDIX C Andrew Hope comments on ODIS 2010 and grid around Wales

ODIS 2010 is available and shows some very interesting developments:

Offshore Development Information Statement: Current Documents
2010 Offshore Development Information Statement p67to 82 (R17) p122

The Wylfa to MIWW interconnector has gone to be replaced by a Wylfa to Angle (Pembroke) HVDC with VSC.rated at 2GW.

Angle is being rebuilt for Gas and I notice that wire work is being done on the 400kv leading from it (I saw this about 1 month ago). Whether this would mean series compensation at a later date, HVDC carriers added to existing pylons or a new run of pylons going east one cannot say.

On the face of it again the idea seems good because HVDC cost drops with length and losses will be 5% rather than up to 20% with AC and as importantly 2 boundaries are avoided by this loop.

You may care to look very carefully at the loop idea re onshore pylons because the plan of 20% offshore renewable power with various scenarios outlined in ODIS 2010 are going to have a substantial effect on 400kv pylon positioning.

For instance will ODIS 2011 bring an Angle to Hinkley Point interconnector through the Bristol Channel? Will Oldbury be involved further up the Channel? All seem capable of HVDC interconnection. At 2GW are these speculative technology ideas being presented by national grid or are they driven by the windfarm companies?

The idea of offshore loops could take the pressure off some onshore proposals (or get them undergrounded as extensions to HVDC)


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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