REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive
and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 325

Revolt news 10/05/2011 Print (pdf) Version

1. Elegant pylons? What do readers think? The link below shows an attempt to improve the design and get rid of the angular and angry raised-arm humanoid posture of typical UK pylons. They will still be incongruous with natural countryside, but a more benign form might help. Or do you disagree? Chris Purser, who drew our attention to this, says: “At least the British style of pylons had an architectural heritage; I don't find the pictures in the article attractive in the least.” There are several technical errors in the article!

2. “Mid Wales slams wind farm disruption” was the 22 April headline. Road assessment and remedial works are needed from Ellesmere Port to Mid Wales as “giant 250 tonne transformers are transported” to National Grid’s proposed 400kV substation – all part of the hidden cost of wind farms. A packed meeting at Tregynon Community Centre came to protest against National Grid’s proposed 400kV line to connect the wind farm hub (news323, 324). Full article:

3. News323.3 reported two new voluntary Codes of Practice for the UK power industry following the SAGE report on EMFs. The report said “Even those very weak [ICNIRP] guidelines, which previously referred to 100 µT for magnetic fields, have been made yet more permissive with a level now of 360 microtesla.” This should not be taken to mean that the ICNIRP guidelines had themselves formally changed to 360µT, only that the effective level of presumption of compliance had changed (and only in UK) from 100 to 360 µT.

4. In fact the ICNIRP reference levels had formally changed (from 100 to 200 µT) in 2010 but the UK had not yet adopted the new level. ICNIRP guidelines use two types of levels: (1) a basic restriction in terms of induced current or field in the body, which in typical circumstances corresponds (according to HPA in UK) to an external field of 360 µT, and (2) a reference level for further investigation (using a prudent safety margin) below which compliance is presumed. The reference level of 100 µT is still in force in UK, though ICNIRP updated it in 2010 to 200 µT.

5. The UK power industry appears to have been working to 360 µT anyway, in the belief that the prudent safety margin is not necessary as circumstances do not vary much in practice. In any event, these relatively high field levels are irrelevant to evidence-based public concern about chronic ill-health effects, such as the doubling of childhood leukaemia risk above 0.4 µT.

6. Some in industry might feel that the way in which exposure limits for EMFs are couched is thoroughly unclear and this is unhelpful for everyone concerned. A single limit for the external magnetic field would be more practical than the present system. Industry may prefer 360 µT and the affected public 100 µT, for acute effects, allowing for variations in people, situations and fields. The key public concern, however, is not the acute-effect level, but is for precautionary levels around 0.4 µT for chronic effects.

7. “Windfarms paid cash to switch off”: Six Scottish windfarms were paid up to Ł300,000 to switch off their turbines due to excessive supply, it emerges. Such “constraining-off” is likely to become more frequent as market penetration of wind power increases. Aims of 20% renewable electricity, coupled with delivery of only around 20% of installed capacity (news324.1-2), implies a total installed capacity around average total demand, and hence much constraining-off at times of good wind and low demand. In turn, high levels of constraining-off will reduce delivery even further, exacerbating the problem. The government and industry answer is building more powerlines, but that will only ease transmission constraints not the underlying mismatch of wind to demand.

8. “Here in Montgomeryshire, for instance, the turbines divide the community; the powerlines and substations unite it – in horror and revulsion” – unexpected recognition from a climate zealot? George Monbiot was writing in the Guardian, Monday 9 May, concluding “Unless the new powerlines are buried, the renewables programme will stall: underground cables must become a firm green demand, though they will add significantly to the cost”.

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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