REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive
and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 352

Revolt news 22/05/2012 Print (pdf) Version

1. The 5.7MB Royal Society report People and the Planet was published 25-4-12. It recognises population growth and socio-economic inequality as vital aspects of global environmental problems, so it’s not just making a case for global warming alarm and windfarm advocacy. It observes that high population growth is associated with poverty (as data show), and argues that as under-developed nations are lifted out of poverty then fertility rates and population growth will subside. It does not seem to consider the possibility that population growth might also be driven by inequality and relative, rather than absolute, poverty, in which case global population growth might not subside so easily and population forecasts might be under-estimates. After all, historically, population was more stable than now despite greater absolute poverty. The report cites the Wilkinson & Picket book The Spirit Level on inequality; that book argues that inequality is a key cause of many problems like high teenage pregnancy rates. The authorities may not yet have fully understood all the population risks.

2. While acknowledging the limitations of renewable energy, and citing David Mackay for quantitative assessment of energy source mixes, People and the Planet promotes long-range HVDC transmission (page 79 of 134).

3. On 25 April the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld an anonymous complaint against Montgomeryshire Against Pylons (MAP) in connection with claims made in a poster. After considering MAP’s response, the ASA concluded that the evidence put forward did not justify the claims, and “told MAP to ensure they held adequate evidence to support all claims in future advertising”. While some claims in the poster might be considered extravagant, and the adjudication fair enough, some might have been supported by better evidence, had it been submitted. There is respectable evidence to support loss of property value “up to 40%”, though typical losses may be lower, and to support a “link” with childhood leukaemia and other diseases, though both topics can be complex. It remains important to draft claims carefully with regard to supporting evidence, and to cite sources where appropriate. It is ironic that a voluntary group should fall foul of such complaints while corporate and government interests seem to get away with their spin.

4. Smart meters are a source of concern for their EMFs at radio frequency (RF). While this is a different concern from that of EMF from powerlines, the issues and the review personnel are strongly connected. David Carpenter’s testimony to a Quebec court gives an account of the issues including division of the scientific community and the use of precautionary policy to manage uncertainty.

5. The 2012 update of the IET statement on EMFs is available. Powerwatch comments on the spin in trying to talk down biological effects.

6. According to the IET Press Release, its Biological Effects Policy Advisory Group (BEPAG) says that "the overwhelming majority of the evidence does not indicate that normal exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields has harmful health effects". This is rough subjective rhetoric, without proper definition of terms. How is the body of evidence defined and how is “indicate” defined? The idea of identifying a majority of evidence really needs more rigour than that! When reasonable definitions are applied, it turns out that there may be substantial indicative evidence alongside inconclusive evidence which is still compatible with harmful effects.

7. As Powerwatch notes, the IET BEPAG report says that, for power frequency studies, “80% (previously 81%) of the 113 papers report biological effects”. Quite the opposite impression from the IET Press Release! Something similar happened with an Irish government minister’s written statement this year to the effect that only 8 out of 25,000 studies have suggested possible associations with adverse health effects. A proper count of relevant studies shows 47 studies with statistically significant representative results suggesting an association, out of 173 studies, and the remainder being compatible with an association.

8. NG ODIS 2010 and early strategic documents like the ENSG 'Vision for 2020' showed the distant North Sea offshore wind power Round 3 zones Dogger Bank and Hornsea connecting to Humberside and further south by HVDC cables. One plan in ODIS 2010 also showed an interconnector from Dogger to Norway, in place of the Hartlepool - Norway route. Then ODIS 2011 introduced a connection from Dogger to Teesside, albeit relieving Hartlepool of the Norway interconnector. Now consultations have begun about a proposed new Dogger link substation on Teesside, to land some 4.8GW from Dogger Bank. Big stuff! Documents are available at

9. The Forewind Statement of Community Consultation states that its new substation would have “up to four onshore DC to AC converter stations which could be up to 30m in height and will require a combined permanent land take of up to 18 hectares”. In addition it says that National Grid may consult over “its new substation”. So, two new large substations are to be expected. It's all a bit ominous for more new overhead lines running south from Teesside. As with the RWE substation proposal in Lincolnshire, it may be necessary for local objection in North Yorkshire to steer these Dogger Bank connections further south; that would make better geographic and power-flow sense, as the excess power is destined for the south anyway.

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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