REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive
and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 312

Revolt news 312 3/12/2010 Print (pdf) Version

1. Alasdair Philips of Powerwatch draws attention to a new 400kV line through Kent and Surrey, to start in 2017, as signalled in the small print of National Grid’s Seven Year Statement (SYS) but not apparent in the Offshore Developments Information Statements (ODIS). The 95km line would run from a new 400kV substation at Rowdown (near Croydon) to another new 400kV substation at Lydd on the south-east Kent coast, to link with a new cross-channel interconnector with Belgium. Will “Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells” emerge to challenge this one?

2. Europacable (news311.7) has produced a 20-page paper for Stirling Council on partial under-grounding using XLPE cables for the Beauly-Denny 400kV line in the vicinity of Stirling, in response to the developer’s “deeply negative” report. Europacable confirm that the cheaper costs of some EU cable projects are explained by lower capacity (represented by the number of cables per phase). At 1 cable per phase, the double-circuit line would have capacity around 3.3 GW whereas at 2 cables per phase it would be twice as much and more comparable with the overhead line. 3.3 GW was recognised by the Inquiry Technical Inspector as a “sensible horizon to plan”.

3. Europacable’s estimated investment cost for undergrounding a section of the Beauly-Denny line near Stirling is in the range € 5-9 million / km, compared with about € 1 million / km for an overhead line. The report addresses many detailed aspects. To bury a tenth of the whole line could increase the whole project investment cost by from 20% to 100% (double the whole project cost).

4. It will be important for the review (news311.5) currently commissioned by NG to take this Europacable report into account.

5. The Europacable report (above) rebuts the earlier report commissioned by Scottish grid company SP Transmission from Cable Consulting International (CCI) and PB Power (who also produced a report for developers in Northern Ireland and are a subsidiary of Balfour Beatty who have an interest in the overhead line). While not disputing the overall conclusion that undergrounding would be significantly more expensive than an overhead line, Europacable challenges the amount and many other details.

6. In considering comparisons with other projects, the Europacable report says: “However, National Grid Project Manager David Mercer, has said on more than one occasion in public, that should an AC overhead solution be preferred, they would need to give serious consideration to partial undergrounding of the line through the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and in the urban area around Avonmouth. This included a public meeting in Nailsea chaired by Liam Fox, MP on 27th November 2009 and an interview on BBC Radio 4 on 28th June 2010. ”

7. There is also an appendix in the Europacable report profiling high voltage XLPE undergrounding projects across the EU.

8. The new ICNIRP “LF Guidelines” for Low Frequency EMF are available, after “a series of misprints were inserted in the document first published in Health Physics”, and with a front page Erratum 25-11-2010, at

9. The scientific basis seems not significantly updated since the previous (1998) ICNIRP guidelines, although the key power-frequency guideline reference level for magnetic fields has been doubled to 200µT where previously it was 100 µT. This may seem more a matter of political and commercial expediency than of science.

10. As before, the ICNIRP guidelines are intended for “protection against all established adverse health effects” (the key word being “established”) and they are exclusively “based on established evidence regarding acute effects”; that excludes possible chronic effects with rational scientific grounds for concern, such as the IARC Class 2B risk of childhood leukaemia.

11. Even so, ICNIRP uses selective and partial language: “there may be a weak association between the higher levels of exposure to residential 50–60 Hz magnetic fields and childhood leukemia risk”. This is a well-established persistent association (as even acknowledge near the end of the ICNIRP document) with no “may be” about it. The problem is with explanation of it. ICNIRP further claim, with reference to WHO 2007, that “a combination of selection bias, some degree of confounding and chance could explain the results”, as a summative statement. This seriously strains WHO 2007 which also said “or can be a true causal relationship” (section and gave fuller discussion suggesting complete non-causal explanations would be unlikely.

12. Comment on the new guidelines and processes behind them can be seen at &

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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