REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 180

Revolt news 30/01/2005

1. As the 15.1.05 response deadline for the WHO EMF precautionary framework passed, I simply re-submitted my draft response of 10.11.04 (news175.4) together with a short comment on mobile phones drawing attention to the second Stewart report and recent research findings of longer term effects.

2. An enquirer sought advice about a strange resonant hum in his house at night. After eliminating all the obvious things he wondered if it could be linked with a nearby powerline, although there is no obvious external source. Alasdair Philips, Director of Powerwatch, offered some interesting comments (APPENDIX 1).

3. For more on the Derrybrien landslide (the "bogalanche" where windfarm works caused a landslide of over half a million tonnes over a distance of two kilometres at Derrybrien, County Galway, damaging property and killing an estimated 50,000 fish; news179.9, 172.6, 167.6 etc.), a video (realplayer) and radio reports of the bog slide can be found at: and more news URLs of the disaster can be found at:

4. Huby landowner Rosalind Craven has not abandoned her fight against the North Yorkshire line. Although Revolt has advised caution regarding legal liabilities and costs, we admire her research and determination. Key issues are landowners' rights and the proper legal process for acquiring and using compulsory powers, be they entry, access, wayleaves, easements or compulsory purchase. Rosalind has researched constitutional rights and laws regarding entry on to land and on the processes for applying for a powerline. The law has been portrayed as complex and uncertain even in government statements. From my own experience the law appears to depend on insiders' interpretations which may vary from the literal meaning as written; in short, it's a mess. Revolt did take QCs' opinions on the access issue and on other points, but they did not provide a firm enough basis for challenge. Rosalind is convinced the process followed for the North Yorkshire line was deeply flawed. If she can prove it, it could have implications for new applications, such as the Beauly - Denny line, as well as for the validity of existing wayleaves. At present she is preparing requests to Secretary of State under the new Freedom of Information Act in order to underpin her research.

5. DEFRA magazine Energy & Environmental Management Jan/Feb 05 is ever more dominated by political spin to sell "global warming", an ever increasing industry, it seems. Not that climate change isn't important, but using a tsunami picture and linking it with global warming (albeit to vulnerability) and using pictures of a power station and fenland floods to portray cause and effect without mention of agricultural and drainage changes, looks more like the Sunday Sport approach to science. Climate change is important, though the mix of risks and benefits, confounding factors and practical effectiveness call for a mixed and balanced approach, to the whole problem of unsustainable growth of consumption, population and pollution. An article reporting the Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI) from Princeton lists 15 strategies . The mixed approach is good, but item 2 is to decrease the number of car miles travelled by half, which doesn't look achievable in a rapidly expanding world.

6. The same DEFRA magazine describes the new 730 MW Conoco Phillips gas- fired power station at Immingham (Humberside) as the largest CHP plant in Europe. Ten years ago that label was given to the Enron Teesside 1845 MW plant, but it didn't find a market for its steam and was only (at best) "partial CHP". Immingham might to better. It also recycles waste energy from the nearby Conoco Phillips Humber refinery.

7. Cancer Research UK issued press releases and website statements this month, describing public ignorance of cancer causes, mentioning that 24% of people thought living near powerlines was a risk, but saying they were mistaken. Professor Denis Henshaw has written to the chief executive and the chairman of Cancer Research UK to protest, giving an outline of the scientific evidence and its recognition by key evaluation and policy bodies, and asking for a meeting with then to discuss the matter. I hope to keep you posted as to how Cancer Research respond. Maureen Asbury (Trentham Environmental Action Campaign) has also written, and has made a formal complaint to the Charity Commission.


APPENDIX 1 Comments from Alasdair Philips, relating to a mysterious hum.

I think that I can throw no direct light on this. Puzzling. You have already checked for the obvious things.

My comments are:

(i) For room resonances the only thing to do is move the furniture round and to have plenty of thick curtaining and drapes on the walls to reduce the Q of any resonances. Also check the attic and make sure you have thick (thermal) insulation to help damp any resonances in the roofspace. Hanging vertical drapes can help.

(ii) a 132kV line should not have any corona discharge under normal weather conditions - maybe the insulators are old and corroded/contaminated. Maybe the wires are old and contaminated.

Ask EdF to visit you at night with a low-light camera and also an infra-red camera - they use them routinely for looking for corona discharges and for poor connections producing hot spots - both early signs of transmission line failure and noise.

(iii) ask your local council environmental health people to visit at night or to lend you overnight a sensitive audio noise spectrum analyser to look for 50, 100 and 150 Hz signals. Take it near the transmission line, as well as in your house.

(iv) Motorway (and main A-road) tyre noise is typically 20 to 80 Hz and can travel considerable distances before resonating in a room. I have found this on a number of occasions. Cure as (i) above.

(v) Check for large long-distance underground gas-grid mains pipes in the vicinity. These are powered by turbines and the hum can carry several miles before being heard in a resonant building.

(vi) Check for radio masts in the area - especially TETRA masts for the new police radio service (or for the private Dolphin service). These transmit a 70.4 Hz pulsed microwave signal that can sometimes apparently be heard and mistaken for a 50 / 100 Hz mains hum. Also, they are "edgy" - i.e. sort of "crackly".  has mobile masts and police TETRA masts shown on maps.

(vii) You may have a version of the Taos Hum (do internet search for this and for Low Frequency Noise). If that is the case, I know of no practical answer.

Those are plenty of things to investigate. Best of luck!

Alasdair Philips


-- Mike O'Carroll



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