REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive
and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 329

Revolt news 2/06/2011 Print (pdf) Version

1. Responding to news328 and the description of undergrounding as largely futile, John Polley writes: Are those who mock undergrounding aware that most of the South East has received its power from the multiple nuclear power station in Gravelines via subsea (subseabed!) cables? FOR 25 YEARS? I am reminded of the aerodynamicists who struggled to find a way to inform the bumblebee that it cannot fly.......

2. Gravelines is near Calais, France. John “participated in the exercise”. Even those cables were second generation, as the first subsea cables went into service in 1961 – 50 years ago. Yes, they’re HVDC cables, and yes, a UK HVDC network would make a great deal of sense. At present there are several HVDC proposals but they are piecemeal and lack a national strategy.

3. The EMF resolution (news326.1) adopted 6 May by the Environment Committee of the Council of Europe has 27 May been passed (with some amendment) by the Parliamentary Assembly (via its Standing Committee) as Resolution 1815 (2011). The Council of Europe (not the EU) is drawn from the national parliaments of its 47 member states. The Resolution calls for member states to reconsider ICNIRP standards, “which have serious limitations”, and apply ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) principles.

4. The BMJ (BMJ 2011;342:d3428) reported news of the Council of Europe resolution under the heading “Radiation fears prompt possible restrictions on wi-fi and mobile phone use in schools”.

5. It’s a pleasure to report a positive outcome and to give industry some credit where it’s finally due. High EMFs (around 2.2 microtesla) in a Somerset neighbourhood (news268.5) of over a dozen homes have been reduced to the around 0.1 microtesla by some low-cost changes to the local low-voltage distribution network. There was a loop over 100 metres wide in the 400V system bringing power to the homes. Such loops are prone to imbalance and “net currents” giving high fields, as also are ring mains in homes. It has now been re-connected by Western Power so homes are supplied by an essentially “radial” (no loop) network.

6. Western Power finally agreed to make the above simple changes only after a couple of years’ persistence by Neil Boxall, a chartered engineer, and encouragement from Powerwatch, although it wasn’t easy and cost the residents £1700. The initial company approach had seemed like the all-too-familiar one of dismissing concerns by misinterpreting ICNIRP levels as safe and being reluctant to listen. There do seem to be deep-seated issues of staff attitude and awareness in the industry which still need addressing. This shouldn’t be a threat to industry, as sensible proportionate responses like that finally achieved in this case can achieve a win-win outcome, with less time and effort for all if only a more responsive attitude could prevail from the start.

7. Not before time, after long-delayed research results and controversy, the WHO-IARC group (news327-328) has pronounced on RF-EMF from mobile phones and classified them as possible human carcinogens (class 2B) based on an increased risk for glioma. A detailed technical paper is to appear in the Lancet (not there at 1st June). This is a significant moment in the recognition of scientific evidence-based EMF concerns.

8. UK TV announcement of the IARC decision was low-key and laced with spin against it, perpetuating pro-industry myths. The charity Cancer Research UK was a major culprit, as shown in detail by Powerwatch. As Powerwatch say, “We do wonder which team they are playing for”.

9. Some pro-industry myths perpetuated on UK TV news are: Only one study found positive results – wrong, in fact there are many and, further, the pooled findings are also positive for long-term use, but only one study (with a low increased risk) was highlighted in the IARC press release Since brain cancers are not increasing overall in the general population, mobile phones are not causing them – wrong, the specific types and locations of cancer associated with heavy phone use are increasing in the general population IARC found only “limited” evidence which can therefore be dismissed - wrong, “limited” is a defined technical class of evidence involving repeated positive findings which are statistically significant There is no scientific way the exposures could cause harm – wrong, at a fundamental level such radiation can interfere with intricate spin chemistry and has been shown, for example, in laboratory studies to disrupt the orientation of birds, as well as to have biological effects Even if there were an effect, the numbers would most likely be very small – wrong, with latency times for such cancers potentially 10 to 25 years, it is practically impossible to predict the longer term effect from current data. Some predictions using ‘reasonable’ evidence-based assumptions suggest high numbers in the longer term, but such predictions are inherently very uncertain, and there is no rigorous and reasonable prediction of low numbers.

10. At least IARC has acknowledged “the potential consequences for public health” and, pending further research, advises “it is important to take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure such as hands free devices or texting”.

11. Recognition also comes for the value of countryside in a government-commissioned National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA), which calculates that the health benefits of merely living close to a green space are worth up to £300 per person per year. Such values, being psychological and recreational as well as directly physical, are (per home) around fifty times more than the limited EMF impacts, calculated by SAGE based on childhood leukaemia alone, and about half the impact if other diseases are included.

12. Such values are comparable with SAGE’s calculated costs of the ‘corridor option’ of keeping new powerlines and homes separate. Green corridor ‘parks’ around overhead powerlines might not bring all the psychological benefits, but the SAGE evaluation (which did not include such benefits at all) should be changed in the light of the NEA. Green corridors and cycleways along buried powerlines would be more attractive, a matter deserving consideration for a new national HVDC buried transmission network.

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.




Custom Search

Search the web

Custom Search