REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter

Revolt news 176 18/11/2004

1. The public concern group Planning Sanity has announced a proposed Private Member's Bill called the Planning (Health and Precautionary Principle) Bill for 2005, and calls for support (APPENDIX 1). Having looked quickly at a current draft, my view is that this is a magnificent idea and effort, to cover health concerns across a wide front where the science is "uncertain". The essence is a statutory requirement for a precautionary statement to accompany all developments which may generate potential harm. It is something like the Environmental Impact Assessment required under EU Directive 97/11/EC but geared to uncertain hazards and precaution. I hope it may also lead to a similar new Directive on precaution. Hopefully it will gain widespread support. I made some suggestions which Chris Maile of Planning Sanity is taking on board.

2. A report "West Danish wind power - lessons for the UK" by Dr. V. C. Mason is described by Country Guardian as "This important up-to-the- minute document has been kindly submitted by Dr. Mason for posting on: . It explains the subsidy and technical difficulties and limitations to wind power in West Denmark, shows how the CO2-saving effects can be countered by the need for back-up generation, and concludes that "the bottom line is that in recent years, there has been little or no saving in the region's carbon emissions". This is a well-evidenced and well-referenced report.

3. Anne McIntosh MP has raised several written Parliamentary Questions on powerlines issues on 8th November. The PQs are ref. 196741-43 on security of supply, new pylons and undergrounding in the Vale of York, and ref. 196744-46 and 196748-50 on health effects. Ministers' replies have been bland as usual, referring health matters to the NRPB reports and technical matters to the electricity companies. The reply about the delayed Draper report on EMF from powerlines (as raised in the TEAC press release) simply referred to a reply to Sally Keeble MP (Northampton), saying the report is being submitted to the DH this week and at the same time to a scientific journal for publication, which will take a few weeks for the peer review process. Things seem to have speeded up somewhat!

4. An important legal decision in the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of mobile phone masts near schools in Harrogate, on the basis that the planning process was not the place for deciding precautionary policy on health, other than in exceptional circumstances. A BBC on-line report is at APPENDIX 2.

5. The Times (APPENDIX 3) reports possible action by fox-hunters through non co-operation over wayleaves, indeed challenging and refusing to renew wayleaves for pylons. Revolt has no position on fox hunting - there will be Revolt members on both sides of that argument. The article claims some landowners can get 6-figure sums for a pylon within 150 metres of a farm house or barn conversion. Revolt's experience was that the annual rental for large pylons was about 80 pounds per year, but landowners were offered a larger one-off lump sum to agree wayleaves. As the time drew near for the formal hearings for the refusing landowners, they were offered up to 20,000 pounds per pylon to agree and so remove the need for compulsory powers. Such sums were usually linked to a permanent easement, though NG did not disclose details.

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APPENDIX 1 Announcement from Planning Sanity.

Announcement 'Planning (Health & Precautionary Principle) Bill 2005'

In 2003 Planning Sanity was approached by Conservative MP Richard Spring to help with the drafting of a proposed Telecommunication Bill, which we duly undertook, that eventually became the Town & Country Planning (Telecommunication Masts) Bill 2004 this received some debate in its second reading and resulted in a technical win of ten votes in support of the Bill and two votes against, one of which was the relevant Government Minister. However the Bill was lost due to the fact that for a quorum there has to be a minimum of 40 MPs in the House. As a result of that failure Planning Sanity indicated that they would write a further Bill for the 2004 Private Members Ballots that take place annually in Mid December and which allows 20 MPs the opportunity of putting forward a Bill they support. The result is the proposed 'Planning (Health & Precautionary Principle) Bill', this is far more wide reaching than lasts years version, and covers a whole range of development types where there is a potential for adverse effects on human, domestic animal and wildlife health.

A draft of the Bill which at the time of the writing of this letter still requires some additional input into the interpretation section but will be updated as any changes takes place can be downloaded from the following link:-

http://www.planningsanity.co.uk/bill2005.doc

What the Bill does: The Bill is designed with two things in mind, first to bring into being the need for a full appraisal of any adverse effects upon health from proposed developments, and secondly to remove certain permitted development rights in order that full and appropriate consideration is given to all planning applications where there is a health threat. The areas the Bill so far covers includes - High Powered Cables; Power Stations; Sub Stations; Telecoms Installations; Major Roads and other Transport Infrastructure, such as Airports and Stations; Contaminated Land; Landfill & Incinerators; Nuclear Plants; Abattoirs; Processes that might cause a Statutory Nuisance and many other similar development types. The basic proposal is that a new 'Health Statement' would be required to be produced for each affected development type and the public would be entitled to comment, and similarly to the environmental Impact regime the planning decision-maker would be required to take the info in the statement into account before making a decision.

How can you help: In the short term to issue statements of support both as individuals and as organisations the more supporters, particularly groups and organisations that support the principle of the Bill the greater chance of its success. Have direct input into the wording of the Bill, whilst we might not be able to incorporate every suggested change, we shall give serious review of the document in light of all suggestions. In the medium to long term we need to promote the Bill to the wider community and to encourage MPs to support it, and to be in the House to vote on its Second Reading, and to ensure that the Bill is not ripped to shreds in the committee stage. Once we know which of the MPs have been successful in the Ballot we shall produce an info sheet for lobbying purposes, and again if we are able to persuade an MP to sponsor the Bill. These will be circulated to all those indicating support.

What we are hoping to achieve is a wide coalition of interest groups right across the political and campaign divide, There is potential interest here for those concerned about nearly every form of environmental pollution and threat from developments that cause or potentially cause ill health in humans, domestic animals and wildlife.

PLEASE SUPPORT THIS BILL - Further info from Chris Maile 0161 278 3355

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APPENDIX 2 Harrogate masts appeal decision (BBC on line report 12.11.04)

Campaigners fighting to stop a phone mast being built near three schools in Harrogate have lost the latest stage in their legal battle. They told the Appeal Court the masts should not go ahead because of concerns about effects on pupils' health. But the judges said the planning decision was not the place for determining health safeguards. The proposed mast at Claro Road is near St Robert's RC Primary, Woodfields Primary and Granby High School. Parents argued the schools lie within the electromagnetic field of the proposed mast which would be used by T-Mobile, Orange and Hutchison 3G. Planning permission had been refused by Harrogate Council and the companies took the case to the High Court in June where a judge ruled the planned mast met safety guidelines, prompting this week's hearing at the Court of Appeal. Giving judgement on Friday in favour of the phone companies, Lord Justice Laws said it was only in "exceptional circumstances" the planning process would consider "perceived health concerns" and there were none in this case. "It remains central government's responsibility to decide what measures are necessary to protect public health," the judge ruled. After the hearing, one of the Harrogate protesters, Peter Brooks, said: "I am surprised a personal risk to health was not discussed in court because that was what we had discussed and read about beforehand." He added that further legal action is being considered. ****************************************

APPENDIX 3 THE TIMES November 15, 2004

Foxhunters plan bureaucratic sabotage By Valerie Elliott Landowners intend to fight back with non-cooperation strategy FARMERS and landowners fighting a ban on foxhunting are planning a war on electricity installations.

Power companies are to be besieged with requests to remove or relocate installations as part of a new campaign of non-cooperation with the Government, its agents and utility companies.

The aim is to minimise disruption to the public but to wreak havoc for the authorities, to clog government machinery and impose extra bureaucracy on officials. The Countryside Alliance has sanctioned the plan in an attempt to head off an illicit campaign of civil disobedience by hunt extremists that could bring chaos to town and city centres and motorways, and alienate public opinion.

Instead, it believes that landowners should break up agreements with various authorities for free access. It is possible that some landowners will seek to cause maximum confusion by giving notice on each pole or pylon individually.

The plan could backfire, however, and consumers could be landed with higher electricity bills if excessive costs are imposed on power companies.

The non-cooperation could start before the end of the week, when the future of hunting will be decided by Parliament.

The decision to target power installations follows a revolt by many farmers, on Salisbury Plain and in Yorkshire, Northumberland and Wales, who have already banned military training. More farmers have threatened similar bans.

Withdrawal of access will also affect exercises for the RAF mountain rescue team, courses for the Royal Navy outdoor leadership training and SAS escape and evasion. This latest ploy will deeply irritate power companies and the Department of Trade and Industry. Applications to remove or resite pylons and posts are subject to an automatic legal process under the Electricity Act 1989. Power companies would be hit by an avalanche of paperwork and the DTI might have to appoint more engine ering inspectors to preside over hearings. At present, only about six take place each year.

In many cases, the power companies might win the right to keep the pylons in place but may be forced to pay out substantial compensation to landowners under the Land Compensation Act 1961. In some cases, disputes would have to be settled by a land tribunal.

About 19,000 landowners in England and Wales receive annual rental payments from power companies - known as a wayleave - on about 65,000 pylons and a further five million poles. Cash payments vary from 8 for a pole to 50 for a pylon, though as much as 500 a year can be paid for a pylon in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It has been known for power companies to pay six-figure sums for a pylon within 150 yards of a farmhouse or converted barn.

Derek George, 67, a retired farmer from Llangewydd, near Laleston, Bridgend, in South Wales, has two large pylons and one post on his 75-acre holding. He receives about 40 a year for each pylon and 8 a year for the pole. He said: "I am now prepared to tell National Grid Transco and South Wales Electricity that I no longer want these on my land. Instead I'm going to propose that they should install an underground cable." Mr George has hunted for 45 years with the Llangeinor hunt and has decided that if a hunting ban were introduced, his only retaliation would be to withdraw goodwill from the authorities.

He said: "I think farmers will be perfectly entitled to make a nuisance of themselves over these installations, especially when you think of the small amounts of cash paid out compared with the 6,000 you can get for a mobile phone mast."

Richard May, 60, who runs his own Forest and District beagle pack on his 160-acre farm south of Macclesfield, Cheshire, is also ready to ask for the removal of six posts and a pylon. He also thinks landowners can create further impact by refusing access by the authorities to monitor rivers and weirs.

"I am not going to put those dogs down. People in the countryside are law abiding and we hope that reason will prevail in Parliament. But if it doesn't, I'll use every trick in the book to bugger up the authorities."

The Countryside Alliance has identified other areas where the loss of goodwill could affect authorities. For example, if officials from the Environment Agency were denied access, it could affect its work on flood defences, new drainage systems, the monitoring of water quality and the maintenance of sites.

English Nature could be hampered if officials had no access to count various bird and wildlife species in various parts of the country as part of the Government's international biodiversity agreement. Its research programmes could also be affected. Railway companies may be prevented from access to maintain sections of the railway bank and the Met Office could be denied access to recording stations.

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