REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter

Revolt news 179 of 16.1.05

1. Correction (from news178.2) Elizabeth Mann's chronicle of wind power objection in the north of England, Force 10, can be downloaded free from
www.wind-farm.org  (not org.uk).

2. The December 04 issue of Microwave News can be downloaded from  www.microwavenews.com . It gives eight excuses used by regulators and industry to deny the effects of EMF in causing childhood leukaemia, and shows that each excuse is bogus, with reference to the research presentations at September's conference in London on Childhood Leukaemia. APPENDIX 1 lists the excuses, but you will have to go to the web site for the full articles. I could add a couple more excuses I have seen used over the years: * EMFs from powerlines are small compared with the earth's magnetic field (bogus as the different frequency makes the comparison irrelevant); * EMF exposures from powerlines are less common than those from household wiring and appliances (although some household sources are a genuine consideration, a dismissive comparison with appliances is bogus because the powerline exposures are more likely to continue at night and so to disturb melatonin production).

3. A legal finding confirms that a nearby wind farm can reduce property value (from Times on-line; see APPENDIX 2). For more examples see < www.countryguardian.net . At least with pylons it is generally admitted that they may have a negative impact on property value. The wind industry appears to be resisting the obvious conclusion as long as it can. I suppose that, if a property has little visual or peaceful amenity to start with, then a nearby wind farm might not reduce its value, but where a property would otherwise have an idyllic setting, a wind farm is likely to have a severe negative impact. There are fans of wind farms (apart from the Powergen Prat of the weather reports) and even fans of pylons, but not enough to save property values.

4. The Treasury consultation document "Managing risks to the public: appraisal guidance" gives a useful framework and reference points for assessing uncertain risks and proportionate precautionary responses. I submitted my response on the consultation deadline of 11.1.05, broadly welcoming the guidance and adding a few particular comments. The reference points will be useful in the work of SAGE, the stakeholder group considering precautionary policy for EMFs from powerlines.

5. An updated NRPB document on mobile phones was released on 11.1.05: Mobile Phones and Health, Doc NRPB 15(5), 2004. The 116-page report can be downloaded as a pdf file from www.nrpb.org  where there the executive summary is also available on a web page. A small part of the executive summary is reproduced at APPENDIX 3 below. The update reinforces the position of the Stewart Report 2000 and re-emphasises the need for precaution in the light of evolving evidence.

6. The Stewart Report 2000 had recommended that permitted development rights for the erection of masts under 15 m should be revoked and that the siting of all new base stations should be subject to the normal planning process. The new "Stewart Report 2004" says that this has been done in Scotland and Northern Ireland but not in England and Wales, where it remains the case that masts under 15 m do not require permission.

7. The Stewart Report 2004 makes several comments on TETRA, the police communication system, noting the lack of audit and public information on the Ofcom Sitefinder web site. The Report concludes: "Until much more information becomes available the Board considers that it would be premature to rule out the possibility of health effects on users of TETRA based equipment and believes that a precautionary approach should be adopted."

8. The Stewart Report 2004 also recognises and considers new technologies in telecommunications, individual susceptibility and hypersensitivity, occupational exposure, exclusion zones, hands-free kits and so on, and makes appropriate sensible recommendations. What a breath of fresh air after the last decade of denial and dismissal, notably in the Doll reports. Perhaps it is the influence of Bill Stewart, now NRPB chairman.

9. The European Commission is pursuing legal action against Ireland on breaches of environmental law, including the case of the "bogalanche" (the Derrybrien landslide resulting from wind farm works, news172.6, 167.6 etc.), according to press reports (see APPENDIX 4).

10. Anne McIntosh MP raised questions in connection with the long delayed Draper paper on cancer in the vicinity of powerlines (news169, 174.1 etc.). A reply 22.12.04 from Energy Minister Mike O'Brien says preliminary findings were presented at DH in May 2003 and the study was completed in November 2004 when the paper was submitted for peer review and publication. I am told by one of the authors that there was a false rumour it would be published 8.1.05, though it may be expected very soon and possibly this month.

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APPENDIX 1 Microwave News Dec 04 on bogus excuses for inaction on EMFs.

Eight Possible Excuses-All Bogus Over the years, those who stand in the way of stricter exposure rules have offered eight reasons:

  • Epidemiological studies linking childhood leukemia to EMFs are flawed and unreliable.
  • Epidemiological studies carried out in the US and the UK don 't show a link between EMF exposure and childhood leukemia.
  • Despite a steady increase in electrification over the last century, there has been no parallel increase in the incidence of child-hood leukemia.
  • There is no conceivable mechanism by which EMFs can influence the development of leukemia.
  • EMFs can 't cause cancer because the fields don 't have enough energy to break chemical bonds.
  • Air pollution from roadway traffic is a more important risk factor for childhood leukemia than EMFs.
  • A virus is a more likely cause of childhood leukemia.
  • And even if it were true that EMFs could lead to childhood leukemia, the risk is so small that it 's not worth bothering about.

Each one of these excuses is wrong. Every single one of them.

This was brought home at the International Conference on Childhood Leukemia ,held in London, September 6-10, sponsored by Children with Leukemia, a UK charity. All the potential risk factors were on the agenda. There were lectures on ionizing radiation, viruses, air pollution, light-at-night and EMFs. It was a rewarding and eye-opening week -and infuriating because in the end there was simply no way to excuse the indifference and complacency of those charged with protecting the public from EMFs. Here 's the real story.

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APPENDIX 2 Times online January 10, 2004

Wind farms ruin peace, says judge. By Lewis Smith

WIND farms can ruin the peace of the countryside and destroy the value of nearby homes, a judge has ruled.

The ruling is the first of its kind and damages the wind energy industry's assertion that it is "a myth" that property prices are affected.

District Judge Michael Buckley said that the noise, visual intrusion and flickering of light through the blades of turbines reduced the value of a house by a fifth. He said that the value of a remote house in Marton, in the Lake District, fell significantly because of the construction of a wind farm of seven 40m-high turbines 500 metres away.

"The effect is significant and it has a significant effect on the property," he said. "It is an incursion into the countryside. It ruins the peace". Until now the industry has insisted that wind-farm developments do not damage house prices and the British Wind Energy Association even suggests the massive turbines can increase the value of nearby homes.

On its website the association labels the idea that house prices can be damaged as one of the "top ten myths" about wind power. It states: "The proximity of a wind energy development does not adversely affect property prices. In fact, prices seem to be on the increase."

Alison Hill, of the association, said that a survey of property values near wind farms across the country was being planned to assess the impact, and promised that the website would be amended.

She said: "This is the first documented evidence we are aware of that does show a decrease in property value."

Kyle Blue, a chartered surveyor and valuer who is leading a campaign against a 27-turbine farm in the Lake District, said the court ruling merely confirmed what householders already knew. "To me it's common sense," he said.

He added that he knew of at least two other properties worth less because of a proposed wind farm at Whinash in the Lake District.

Wind farms are not compelled to offer homeowners compensation in the way local authorities can be when pushing through projects, and Judge Buckley's ruling does not pave the way for property owners to claim compensation.

A couple won a 15,000 compensation order because when they bought the property in Marton the vendors, who campaigned against the farm's construction, made the mistake of ticking a box on a form to state they had not been involved in negotiations about planning issues affecting the property.

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APPENDIX 3 Extract from the Executive Summary of the NRPB's second Stewart Report.

(After describing the development of the industry and the lack of hard, replicated evidence of harm, and of any obvious or widespread ill effects, the summary goes on to describe reservations, starting at paragraph 11, as follows.)

First, the widespread use of mobile phone technologies is still fairly recent and technologies are continuing to develop at a pace which is outstripping analyses of any potential impact on health (see paragraphs 55-57, 84 and 85).

Second, there are data which suggest that RF fields can interfere with biological systems (AGNIR, 2003; IEGMP, 2000).

Third, because the use of mobile phone technologies is a fairly recent phenomenon, it has not yet been possible to carry out necessary long- term epidemiological studies and evaluate the findings. However, an increase in the risk of acoustic neuromas has recently been reported in people in Sweden with more than ten years' use of mobile phones. This study has been able to obtain long-term follow-up data and highlights the need for extended follow-up studies on phone users, as has been noted in a number of reviews (see AGNIR, 2003). Epidemiological studies, because of a lack of sensitivity, may miss any effects in small subsets of the general populations studied. This is a reason why the Board welcomes the large international cohort study proposed for support by the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) programme (see paragraph 89). A recent German study has also suggested concerns.

Fourth, a recent paper has suggested possible effects on brain function resulting from the use of 3G phones, although the study has some limitations and needs replication. The Stewart Report had previously identified the need for research on brain function.

Fifth, populations are not homogeneous and people can vary in their susceptibility to environmental and other challenges. There are well- established examples in the literature of the genetic predisposition of some groups that could influence sensitivity to disease. This remains an outstanding issue in relation to RF exposure and one on which more information is needed. A number of people also report symptoms they ascribe to electromagnetic hypersensitivity arising from exposure to a range of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) encountered in everyday life. There is concern by an increasing number of individuals, although relatively small in relation to the total UK population, that they are adversely affected by exposure to RF fields from mobile phones (see also paragraphs 58 64).

Sixth, IEGMP considered that children might be more vulnerable to any effects arising from the use of mobile phones because of their developing nervous system, the greater absorption of energy in the tissues of the head and a longer lifetime of exposure. Data on the impact on children have not yet been forthcoming. The potential for undertaking studies to examine any possible effects on children, however, are limited for ethical reasons.

Seventh, there are ongoing concerns in the UK about the use of Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) by the police and the nature of the signals emitted as well as about exposures to RF from other telecommunications technologies.

Eighth, there remain particular concerns in the UK about the impact of base stations on health, including well-being. Despite current evidence which shows that exposures of individuals are likely to be only a small fraction of those from phones, they may impact adversely on well-being. The large numbers of additional base stations which will be necessary to effectively roll out the 3G and other new networks are likely to exacerbate the potential impact. People can also be concerned about effects on property values when base stations are built near their homes.

The Board believes that the main conclusions reached in the Stewart Report in 2000 still apply today and that a precautionary approach to the use of mobile phone technologies should continue to be adopted.

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APPENDIX 4 European Commission pursues legal action against on environmental issues

Brussels, 13 January 2005 Ireland: Commission pursues legal action for breaches of environmental law in eight cases

The European Commission has decided to pursue infringement proceedings against Ireland in eight cases involving breaches of EU environment law. The Commission's action in these cases is aimed at reducing agricultural and sewage-related water pollution, protecting citizens from noxious sewage odours, ensuring safe waste disposal, ensuring that significant projects are properly environmentally assessed, restoring an important nature site and getting Ireland to participate more fully in wider efforts to curb air pollution and protect the Earth's ozone layer. The Commission has a duty to ensure that each Member State lives up to its commitments to safeguard the environment and human health.

Environment Commissioner Stavrosby Dimas said: "I welcome Ireland's decision taken in 2003 to apply throughout its territory an action programme to reduce water pollution by nitrates from farming. However, the programme needs serious strengthening in key areas if it is to contribute successfully to securing clean water for Irish citizens and to satisfying the March 2004 ruling of the Court of Justice."

Final warnings

In seven cases, the Commission has sent Ireland final written warnings, known as " Reasoned Opinions," aimed at securing compliance with EU environmental law. In the absence of satisfactory responses, the Commission may later decide to refer these cases to the Court:

The seventh case relates to Ireland's implementation of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive[9]  http://tinyurl.com/3zcme  . This Directive aims at environmentally assessing certain projects before they are undertaken in order to avoid or minimise environmental harm and nuisances. It also provides for public consultation. In October 2003, a major landslide involving more than a half million cubic metres of peat took place over a distance of two kilometres at Derrybrien, County Galway, damaging property and killing an estimated 50,000 fish. The landslide was caused by work on Ireland's largest wind-farm project. Despite the environmental disaster and the failure to properly assess in advance the risks that the project presented as a result of soil instability, the Irish authorities did not given any commitment to carrying out a fresh environmental impact assessment (EIA), including consultation of the public concerned, before resumption of work at Derrybrien. This case also addresses a wider problem, namely that, as a result of Irish legislation and enforcement practice concerning retention of illegal developments, certain projects, such as quarrying and pig-rearing, are being carried out or intensified before an EIA is undertaken or considered. The public and the environment and thereby potentially exposed to damage and nuisances.

Legal Process

Article 226 of the Treaty gives the Commission powers to take legal action against a Member State that is not respecting its obligations.

If the Commission considers that there may be an infringement of EU law that warrants the opening of an infringement procedure, it addresses a "Letter of Formal Notice" (first written warning) to the Member State concerned, requesting it to submit its observations by a specified date, usually two months.

In the light of the reply or absence of a reply from the Member State concerned, the Commission may decide to address a "Reasoned Opinion" (final written warning) to the Member State. This clearly and definitively sets out the reasons why it considers there to have been an infringement of EU law and calls upon the Member State to comply within a specified period, normally two months.

If the Member State fails to comply with the Reasoned Opinion, the Commission may decide to bring the case before the European Court of Justice. Where the Court of Justice finds that the Treaty has been infringed, the offending Member State is required to take the measures necessary to conform.

Article 228 of the Treaty gives the Commission power to act against a Member State that does not comply with a previous judgement of the European Court of Justice, again by issuing a first written warning ("Letter of Formal Notice") and then a second and final written warning ("Reasoned Opinion"). The article then allows the Commission to ask the Court to impose a financial penalty on the Member State concerned.

For current statistics on infringements in general see:

http://tinyurl.com/4yq9t 

For rulings by the European Court of Justice see

http://curia.eu.int/en/content/juris/index.htm 

[9] < http://tinyurl.com/3zcme > Directive 85/337/EEC as amended by Directive 97/11/EC

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