REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive
and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 3

Revolt news 24/04/2012 Print (pdf) Version

1. The Armagh public inquiry into the Irish 400kV interconnector stalled in its first week when objectors argued that NIE’s application may be unlawful. The Northern Irish national newspaper "The Newsletter" reports 8 March including a picture of the commissioners at:

2. NIE’s application had shortcomings. The proposed line would affect several townships not previously identified or notified. The inquiry was adjourned for most of the first two weeks when NIE submitted new maps and advice was taken. The Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) which conducts the inquiry issued this statement after again adjourning proceedings on 20th March: “The inquiry opened on 6th March 2012 but was adjourned on 20th March when it came to light that the application and the environmental statement and its addenda had not been properly advertised in the press.  The Commissioners recommended that before it is re-advertised, the environmental statement is consolidated and updated to take account of changes put forward by the applicants in their evidence to the inquiry. The Commission proposes to take no further action in relation to the inquiry until the Department confirms that it has properly advertised the applications and environmental statement.  Resumption of the inquiry will depend on the availability of Commissioner and staff resources.”

3. The IARC Interphone epidemiological studies gathered data from 13 countries on mobile phone usage and brain cancer incidence, with poor study design, strange results and much criticism and controversy. Not all the data have been publicly processed and interpreted. The topic had split the WHO cancer research agency IARC last year when IARC rated mobile phone exposure a Class 2B possible human carcinogen. The Interphone results showed a presumed-spurious protective effect at low or short exposures compared with “no exposure” (but very poorly classified), but also showed the beginnings of increased cancer risk from longer term exposure. Alongside the Interphone results were some independent studies and meta-analyses from Hardell and others, showing stronger longer-term risks.

4. Now a new study (Little et al 2012) compares forecasts based on Interphone and those based on Hardell with recorded US national cancer data, specifically for glioma up to 2008. These recorded national data so far are steady without any overall increasing trend in glioma incidence; however the data do show significant trends in changing classification (Table 7), both in anatomical site and in cancer grade, which could obscure potential relevant trends. The Hardell-based forecasts show increases well beyond the recorded statistics and deemed “inconsistent” with the recorded data, whereas the weaker Interphone forecasts are deemed consistent with the (almost static) recorded data. Contrary to claims of some enthusiasts, this doesn’t prove or disprove risks, but shows some significant differences in different sets of data. It’s a useful but limited contribution to the overall picture.

5. Microwave news reports: “A couple of days ago, the cancer agency quietly issued a final report, stating that its work "has now been formally completed." The report, though dated October 3, 2011, was released on March 16th.” Completed but not concluded! The controversy will rage on, with evidence having established a Class 2B risk, while the antagonists argue the Little report tends to negate it. More actual (and more consistently classified) incidence statistics over the next few years from more countries might add a little more light either way. Even so the effect of longer latency could still be large yet some years off. Mobile phone exposures are extraordinary in their complexity and ubiquity; biological knowledge, especially of complex systems, is still emerging and far from able to answer these questions yet.

6. More from Microwave News: “The editor of the International Journal of Andrology has announced the retraction of a paper, which claimed to show that cell phones can impair the reproductive function of rabbits. Score one for Germany's Alex Lerchl who has taken on the role of policing the EMR/RF literature for bad science and misconduct.” See the Short Takes at

7. ENTSO-E is the European Network of Transmission System Operators – Electricity; that is, National Grid and its European counterparts. We have highlighted ENTSO-E sources for strategic planning before (news335), as well as the ENTSO-E / Europacables joint paper on undergrounding (news318). The Ten Year Network Development Plan (TYNDP) 2012 is out for consultation closing 26 April. It identifies a “need to invest €104 bn in the refurbishment or construction of roughly 51,500 km of extra high voltage power lines clustered into 100 investment projects across Europe”, some 80% of the bottlenecks being related to renewable energy.

8. Andrew Hope drew our attention to the ENTSO-E Plan and in particular the pdf for the North Sea region, covering 10 countries including Ireland, UK and Sweden. The 10 governments “signed a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at providing a coordinated, strategic development path for an offshore transmission network in the Northern Seas”, now envisaged for 2030. Andrew draws attention to p42 of the pdf with a map of developments for 2017-2022, including new subsea cables from France to Dorset, from Brittany to near Cork in Ireland, and a second line from Ireland to Wales. He suspects 2 way power transfer from north to south of the region through Eire and Northern Ireland, as well as a converter station and new line near Weymouth eventually connecting up with Hinkley Point / Taunton. Other projects identified on pages 46-47 include upgrading three main 275 kV circuit routes in London to 400kV, four new 400 kV circuits in a ring around the Dublin city and three mooted added HVDC interconnections from GB to each of Norway, France and Spain.

9. Eirgrid’s 260km 500MW sub-sea and underground HVDC East-West Interconnector (EWIC) from Ireland to Wales is under construction and due for completion in September 2012. All well and good, we may think, with no EMF problem from DC cables. However, with fast digital pulsing control of converters, and with slow ramping of total powerflow, there can be substantial electrical noise on the cables, and this can result in surprisingly high varying magnetic fields at private homes. A technical report from KEMA, produced jointly for Eirgrid and Rush Community Council, identifies time-varying magnetic fields as high as 60 microtesla. Eirgrid’s original Environmental Report had wrongly stated “On direct current (DC) cables, the current flows in only one direction and produces a static (i.e., non-variable) magnetic field, like that produced by a bar magnet.” The seemingly unnecessary problem is brought on by placing cables under the edge of roads very close to homes (within 1.5 metres), whereas alternative routes or even better positioning in the road might have avoided such exposures. It is a pity that more care wasn’t taken with positioning, as HVDC buried cables should be a very benign form of transmission.

10. The EU Directive 2004/40/CE is to protect workers from EMF. It “does not address suggested long-term effects” (Art 1.3). Instead, it is based on ICNIRP 1998. However, there are unintended consequences even at the high ICNIRP permitted exposure levels, for example with MRI scans which can use strong magnetic fields above the ICNIRP static level of 2 tesla. As a result, there has been a moratorium on the Directive. The moratorium was set to end, and the Directive to start applying, on 30 April 2012. The moratorium has now been extended to 31 Oct 2013, after a bid by the European Commission to defer it to 30 April 2014 failed.

11. (From WIK EMF Brief 12-4-12) On 12.04.2012 The American Academy of Environmental Medicine released a position paper on electro-magnetic field (EMF) and radiofrequency (RF) health effects calling for immediate caution regarding smart meter installations. Citing several peer-reviewed scientific studies, the AAEM concludes that “significant harmful biological effects occur from non-thermal RF exposure” showing causality. The AAEM also expresses concern regarding significant, but poorly understood quantum field effects of EMF and RF fields on human health.

12. Energy Minister Greg Barker said the UK has all the wind turbines it needs: “Far from wanting thousands more, actually for most of the wind we need... they are either built, being developed, or in planning,” he told the Sunday Times [paywall]. This was taken by some to be a government policy u-turn against wind farms, especially onshore, though later ‘clarification’ insisted the policy was unchanged but there may be questions about what happens after the present tranche of wind farm proposals aiming at 2020 targets was completed. Then a new national body (NOW) opposing windfarms was launched by Libdem peer Lord Carlisle in the Houses of Parliament. Despite reactionary media responses from the wind lobby and a survey finding a majority of the public in favour of windfarms, controversy continues.

13. Andrew Darke of PLACE reports that “things are moving forward with the Landscape Forum...” (news350.5-8). PLACE and Ofgem are discussing a draft constitution for a national Landscape Forum which would bring together Ofgem and groups concerned about impact on landscape.

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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