REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive
and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 346

Revolt news 8/12/2011 Print (pdf) Version

1. Stour Valley Underground (SVU) reports that on 23rd November 2011, National Grid showed a group of local councillors and council officers from north Essex around the Eaton Socon Substation near St Neots to allow them to visualise the potential impact of such a structure on the countryside. SVU have set up a resource of photos which may help others concerned about 400kV substation proposals:

2. One substation proposal of local concern is at Washway Farm in Lancashire, where an existing 275-132kV substation is to be extended and upgraded to 400-132kV. This upgrade is only reported in older NG Seven Year Statements. The 2006 SYS Q1 Update lists upgrading and replacement of the transformers etc to be done by 2012. Yet these works are not yet done and do not appear in the 2010 or 2011 SYS. The only mention of Washway Farm among Planned Developments of the 2010 SYS is for reconductoring the Penwortham-Kirkby line ten years later in 2021/22, and that is not mentioned in the 2011 SYS.

3. National Grid give an outline of the various consents required for various electricity developments. Overhead lines of 132kV or more in England and Wales normally require national consent (through the IPC) under the Planning Act 2008 (formerly Section 37 consent under the Electricity Act 1989) but substations do not. Instead substations normally require planning permission under the local authorities.

4. A Working Group at German scientific consultants WIK operates a free email ‘EMF Brief’, “a weekly news bulletin which keeps you up to date with what is going in the world of research and the public debate on the effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF) on human health and the environment”. The German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology supports the commitment of WIK in this field.

5. The 23-11-11 WIK EMF Brief reports: “On 10.11.2011, the most important European network operators and environmental organizations signed the „European Network Statement for Network Extension and Environmental Protection“ in Brussels, thus pledging to observe the protection of the environment during a rapid network extension campaign. Both sides want to solve conflicts related to new power lines. At the same time, they want to grant a greater level of transparency and more participation of the population in the expansion of the network. The signatories called on the EU Commission to recognize the joint statement as a cornerstone for future European guidelines for network expansion.”

6. The 2-12-11 WIK EMF Brief reports, as a main topic, a Spanish official draft report in its own strong terms: "which overwhelmingly concludes that, at least to date, there is absolutely no scientific evidence that exposure to the low emission levels of these systems produces adverse health effects in schoolchildren", without criticism or comment. The Brief goes on to report, under a heading “Discussion”, a peer-reviewed paper by Avendano eta l 2011 on sperm damage from wi-fi, followed by dismissive comments. Readers may form their own opinion of the WIK Briefs. They do not appear to have any connection to the independent organisation Wikipedia, despite the misleading name.

7. The last section of the Beauly-Denny line for mitigation, near Stirling, has been decided. It will not be buried, but part of the existing 132kV line will be. Objectors Stirling Before Pylons have expressed strong disappointment. The Daily Record reports Rugby legend Kenny Logan’s “fury”.

8. While burying the existing 132kV line near Stirling is something, the whole Beauly-Denny 400kV line has now been approved without any part buried, even in the Cairngorms National Park. The Scottish Government made the decision, but does this reflect a hardening of UK policy? From past practice in England, it would not be unreasonable to expect part, maybe 10%, of a 400kV line to be buried, even in much less important landscape than the Scottish Highlands and heritage sites.

9. The timetable for the inquiry into NIE’s 400kV interconnector in Northern Ireland has been put back, following the pre-inquiry meeting in October. Statements of Case are now required by 4.00 pm on 6 January 2012 and rebuttal evidence by 4.00 pm on 3 February 2012. Inquiry opens at 10.00 am on 6 March 2012. At the Pre-Inquiry the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) asked for 50 copies of statements of case and rebuttals for those objecting and 40 copies for those supporting. In my experience, the developer normally provides free onsite copying at the Inquiry and typically 4 or 5 advance copies only are required. To require some 90 advance copies would surely be prejudicial against public objectors by restricting their capacity to express objections. This does seem excessive and unreasonable and perhaps a candidate for judicial review. If the Inquiry proceeds on this basis it may invalidate the whole proceedings.

10. Toby Hall sends a link to an interesting half-hour interview with Barry Trower, microwave scientist, on the dangers of unmitigated wi-fi and mobile phones.

11. Montgomeryshire Against Pylons (MAP) draws attention to a DECC consultation on onshore wind farms, ending 12-01-2012. MAP argues that onshore wind should have zero subsidy. Revolt has long argued that onshore wind should be reclassified as non-renewable because of the strong reliance on non-renewable backup among other things.

12. Andrew Darke, from the art and visual amenity group PLACE, reports Ofgem’s “very thorough appraisal” of National Grid’s willingness-to-pay report (news337.9). The appraisal was prepared for Ofgem by London Economics and is dated 30 Sept 2011. Andrew says “PLACE has been hard at work with 5 full day consultations / workshop sessions with NG over the autumn so far, you'll get a flavour from the news section on our site.”

13. The above Ofgem report is to inform Ofgem on what allowances might be granted to transmission companies to mitigate their visual impacts. A flat denial is reported from SHETL in Scotland: “SHETL say that they do not intend to invest in such measures in respect of existing infrastructure because they are too expensive and they do not believe that the case can be made for customers to pay for them. No supporting evidence is provided in support of these assertions.” SHETL had not conducted a wtp study.

14. In respect of NG, Ofgem’s report calls for a better wtp analysis, in line with best practice. The report broadly supports Ofgem providing an allowance to NG for partial undergrounding of existing transmission lines, preferably after NG does a new survey based on best practice. Ofgem has yet to respond to the report.

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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