REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive
and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 361

Revolt news 22/10/2012 Print (pdf) Version

1. Britain risks running out of energy generating capacity in the winter of 2015-16, according to the energy regulator Ofgem, says a BBC report. Ofgem blames the risk on coal-fired power stations being closed sooner than expected and EU environmental legislation. Of course, wind power capacity can’t fill the gap because it is unreliable.

2. Turning air into liquid may offer a solution to one of the great challenges in engineering - how to store energy, says a BBC report. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers says liquid air can compete with batteries and hydrogen to store excess energy generated from renewables, with up to 70% efficiency. Dubbed ‘cryo-power’, this sounds like a plausible new approach to a major environmental problem, depending on how the economics work out in practice. Seemingly counter-intuitive, cooling to store heat, the process was invented by an English amateur in his garage! It’s also good to capture waste heat from industrial processes.

3. Toby Hall sends this link to a youtube interview with Barrie Trower (news346.10), author of the well-known report on Tetra for the Police Federation. The site has this description: “ICAACT was given an exclusive interview with Dr. Barrie Trower, a true British gentlemen and hero, who has spent many years fighting for humanity.” Trower makes a case for conspiracy and corruption in high places on microwave weapons and sickness with widespread public dangers. Without independently verified evidence it is difficult to assess the case – sometimes people are invited to “make up their own minds” in such situations, but there is also the option of keeping an open mind. After recent revelations about the Hillsborough disaster, the potential for corruption and cover-up shouldn’t be under-estimated, though evidence is vital.

4. Hambleton District Council is seeking tenders by 9 November to supply-and-maintain small scale (28 to 38 kWe) CHP at leisure centres.

5. A DECC consultation (opened 17 Oct, closes 28 Nov 2012) on which powerline works should count as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) in the new(ish) planning regime under the Planning Act 2008. “The proposed amendment would mean minor works to high voltage power lines that do not qualify as national infrastructure would be considered under more flexible arrangements for scrutiny of proposals in the Electricity Act 1989.” The threshold for counting as an NSIP “is currently for electric lines of 132 kilovolt (kV) nominal voltage or greater”. Even consent applications for “minor works” on lines of 132kV or upwards have to go through the NSIP process. But what are such “minor works”? They are not just painting or upgrading insulators, but they involve new extensions to the line, which may be short but hardly trivial. DECC lists 4 options (see APPENDIX A below) and prefers option3. We would be interested to hear any views from readers.

6. Another current DECC consultation (closing 28 November) on which views would be welcome is: Necessary Wayleaves regime. It addresses “modernisation of the Electricity (Compulsory Wayleaves) (Hearings Procedure) Rules 1967”, saying “We are proposing the possible introduction of a scale fees for handling necessary wayleave and essential vegetation management applications, to be payable by electricity network operators at various stages in the process, in line with Government policy that such services should be on a “full cost recovery basis” so that the cost to the tax payer is broadly neutral.”

7. A DECC consultation closed on 8 Oct on Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications (SMETS). Ingrid Dickenson reports that several public concern groups submitted a joint response drawing attention to increasing microwave EMF exposure.

8. WIK Brief92 of 16 Oct cites a study (Touitou et al., Clin Biochem 2012: in press) which finds no long-term (up to 20 years) effect from power-frequency EMF at 0.1 to 2.6 microtesla (geometric mean) on certain haematological and immune system functions of healthy workers in the power industry. There were just 15 exposed workers in the study. While the evidence says something about this group of healthy working men, they do not constitute an unbiased random sample even of healthy working men, since they are selected as those who choose to work long-term in industry with high exposures. The sample may be biased against any who respond badly to such exposures and in any case does not represent the range of more vulnerable people in the residential public.

9. Temporary wayleaves on the North Yorkshire 400kV line are due to expire on 26 March 2013, the fifteenth anniversary of the main DTI decision letter in 1998. Landowners are considering their options. We would be pleased to hear from all concerned and may convene a local public meeting to exchange views.

10. The wayleave issue is mentioned in the Revolt Chairman’s Report of October 2012 adopted at the AGM on 18 October and at APPENDIX B below.


APPENDIX A Options in DECC consultation Oct-Nov 2012

This consultation sets out several options for amending the Planning Act 2008. These are:

(i) Do not amend the Act, leaving the threshold at 132kV nominal voltage (i.e. all works to lines of 132kV or greater would continue to be determined under the Act).Amendment to the Planning Act electric lines threshold 2

(ii) Amend the threshold in the Act to be greater than132kV nominal voltage (i.e. only works to lines greater than 132kV nominal voltage would be determined under the Act).

(iii) Add a further criterion to the threshold of 132kV nominal voltage so that the Act applies to lines of 132kV nominal voltage and more than 2 kilometres (km) in length, but excluding, regardless of length, applications for uprating the nominal voltage of electric lines where there is no change to the existing physical infrastructure.

(iv) Amend the threshold so that only lines of more than 132kV nominal voltage that are “EIA Development” requiring an environmental impact assessment (EIA) (as defined in the Environmental Assessment directive and implementing regulations) would require development consent under the Planning Act.

Option (iii) is the government’s preference.


APPENDIX B 2012 Revolt Chairman’s Report

The radical expansion of the UK electricity grid continues. Strategic grid options still appear to be determined by industry-government groups behind closed doors. The IPC came and went, leaving infrastructure projects in the hands of the Planning Inspectorate. Last year’s Energy National Policy Statements (NPSs) remain in force. The coalition government is changing the local planning system to promote economic growth, with a presumption in favour of sustainable development, though its definition is not always clear. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) appeared in March 2012 but “does not contain specific policies for nationally significant infrastructure projects”.

Much looming but unclear major grid development arises from offshore wind. HVDC cables bring the power to new onshore converter substations which are the subject of local consultation. There are less obvious implications for associated new National Grid 400kV substations, and new overhead lines, not included in the consultations. There have been some successes for objectors: the withdrawal of the RWE Triton Knoll converter station proposal in rural Lincolnshire and its associated mysterious “Mumby” 400kV substation; the rejection of the converter substation at Little Dunham near Swaffham; and the scrapping of the mooted Lowestoft – Diss 400kV line in East Anglia. But a new Dogger Bank Teesside converter station is proposed, bringing some 4GW of power ashore, half of which will need a new 400kV NG substation in an undisclosed location and most likely new 400kV lines in North Yorkshire.

Undersea HVDC cable plans are progressing. Eirgrid’s East-West Interconnector (EWIC) from Ireland to Deeside is constructed and NG’s Western Link from Ayrshire to Deeside is scheduled for 2015. HVDC cables are generally welcomed as an environmentally benign form of power transmission. But even though they are nominally DC, they carry substantial time-varying “dirty electricity” as a result of rapid pulsed switching in the converters. Significant time-varying magnetic fields are produced, although they diminish with distance from the cables. All that is needed is a clearance typically above 5 metres from homes, yet Eirgrid has placed them as close as 1.5 metres from some homes in Rush, Ireland, so Rush Community Council raised legal objections. Such an avoidable problem!

In Northern Ireland, the public inquiry into the 400kV overhead North-South Interconnector was abandoned after NIE made such a shambles of it. So this project stands in abeyance with applications withdrawn in their present form after gross blunders in proceedings both sides of the border. A case for HVDC cables!

On the credit side, National Grid has continued with its new Approach to undergrounding, having voluntarily proposed burying 8 km of the 400kV Bramford-Twinstead line in Suffolk / Essex and with a second willingness-to-pay report supporting burying lines in National Parks and AONBs. Ofgem policy looks comparatively reluctant but goes along in a limited way.

Work on existing NG lines continues to cause problems for landowners. This year I attended a very rare event, a tree-lopping hearing, in Halifax. NG contracts Fountains Forestry to maintain clearances from conductors. There are complaints about excessive clearances to allow for lopping only every three years, and about failings to give proper notice and to carry identification.

Temporary wayleaves on the North Yorkshire 400kV line are due to expire on 26 March 2013, the fifteenth anniversary of the main DTI decision letter in 1998. Landowners are considering their options. Given renewable energy policy placing heavier demands on the grid, and notwithstanding increased evidence and recognition of possible health risks since 1998, it would seem unrealistic now to expect to have this line removed, buried or re-routed. There may however be grounds for complaint about practical matters such as entry, notice, identification, tree lopping, noise and so on.


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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