REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 196

Revolt news 9/09/2005

1. A new document from the old NRPB (now the HPA-RPD), published August 2005, assesses sources of EMF exposure in homes. It is coded HPA-RPD-005 and can be found from . The document looks at addresses from the UKCCS cancer studies, with a view to spotting what would be most effective measures of exposure reduction, for consideration in precautionary policy. The key findings and my comments are at APPENDIX 1.

2. At the time the new North Yorkshire line was built, Revolt called for the west Yarm 400 kV line to be dismantled, as it was not needed for power-flows then. The new line from Lackenby to Picton, joining up with the old one from Picton to York, should have been sufficient. But since then, following the 2003 Energy White Paper, government policy has gone ever more for wind power, much of it to be from Scotland. Given this "dash for wind", there can be no realistic prospect of dismantling the west Yarm line in the foreseeable future.

3. I've just been taking some photos of where the 400 kV underground cables were buried near Newby about three years ago. Newly harvested wheat fields with bales scattered across them glowed in the sun. I couldn't detect the exact cable lines, or the line of the former access road down the centre, as the ground was all the same and wholly cropped. Neat roadside stones, like mile stones, declared the position of each trench as it crossed the minor road. Apart from the neat wooden fence, becoming overgrown with hedgerow plants, you wouldn't otherwise know there was a cable there. Just beyond the wooden fence there is a small enclosure bounded on the far side by a low fence like a knee-high motorway barrier, largely overgrown with weeds. In the enclosure there are two joint bays. These are concrete pits of a few square metres, levelled flush with the ground, with some steel plates like rectangular manhole covers. None of the joint bay material protrudes above ground level, so unless you peered closely into the enclosure you wouldn't know it was there. Looking out across the fields and rolling countryside, it all appears normal and peaceful, completely undisturbed by the buried cables.

4. A new web site from America takes National grid to task for bringing in migrant workers on a sub-station rather than employing qualified local labour.


is subtitled "a story of corporate greed versus our community's values". Now where have we heard that before?

5. The deadline 31 August for consultation responses on Hambleton DC's Preferred Options (news194.9) has passed. I sent in a response expressing concerns about wind farm targets, with reference to detailed drafting points and to recent revolt news items. It is not copied herewith but is available on request. This sort of consultation will be taking place around the country in the wake of the 2004 Act. For example Redcar and Cleveland will be publishing its preferred options on 19 September for six weeks' consultation. It may be a common feature that wind farm targets imposed by regional assemblies or government offices are not revealed in the local consultations. Hambleton says responses are expected to be considered by the Council on 13th December 2005 and a summary of responses received will appear on


around that time. It is intended to submit the Core Strategy to the Secretary of State in February 2006, when there will again be consultation over a 6 week period. Meanwhile there is a further document "Issues and Options" on the Hambleton web site with a response date of 7 October.

6. The North Yorkshire Renewable Energy Study (news193.5) has reported. The same firm Land Use Consultants has done this study and the environmental appraisal for Hambleton's LDF documents. All of the study outputs are available from the project website at


I have not yet had time to look at them. They will open for consultation from the 30th August until the 23rd September 2005. That's short, and soon!

7. Highland Council is reported as opposing powerlines in Wester Ross, such as the mooted Ullapool - Beauly power line (APPENDIX 2).

8. Even at 8 September, the SSE web site

with details of the Beauly - Denny line does not yet show that any application has been formally submitted, and indeed SSE confirm it has not, so the consultation period has yet to start.

9. A press release (APPENDIX 3) from the Renewable Energy Foundation <>

says that the Scottish renewables obligation is to reflect the difference between unreliable intermittent sources and reliable ones. That also reflects the distinction we have called for (news184.1 etc.) in seeking to have wind power reclassified as non-renewable apart from carefully defined Good Quality Wind Power.

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APPENDIX 1 HPA-RPD-005 main results and my comments.

The main findings are:

(a) for homes exposed above 0.2 microTesla, the main single cause is internal wiring (especially when faulty), with high voltage (HV) powerlines of 132 kV and above only accounting for about 20% of the 102 homes in the sample exposed at this level; 

(b) for the 21 homes in the sample exposed above 0.4 microTesla, the main single source is HV powerlines of 132 kV and above (44% of the homes), with internal wiring accounting for 33%; 

(c) other low voltage (LV) sources from the local distribution system were a significant minor source, but exposures from appliances were only very minor.

My comments:

(1) These are not large samples (particularly above 0.4 microTesla) for the purpose of apportioning exposures among many sources. 

(2) The homes were each investigated only over about two hours when convenient for the home owner, and no account was taken of nocturnal exposure, which might be dominated by HV powerlines. Nocturnal exposure could be crucial for a melatonin effect. 

(3) With regard to the important association with leukaemia above 0.4 microTesla, the NRPB had claimed (e.g. response statement to document 12-1 of 2001) that only about a quarter of those exposures would be due to powerlines. Now on analysing the same UKCCS data that appears as nearly half, albeit from a modest sample size. 

(4) The document (page 48) repeats the error of asserting that by using a geometric mean, rather than an arithmetic mean, the analysis "is less likely to be influenced by statistical outliers". For positive numbers not all the same, the geometric mean will be less than the arithmetic mean. While high outliers will be suppressed, low ones will be exaggerated. The assertion is simply wrong.

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APPENDIX 2. Report on Highland Council and Ullapool - Beauly line.

Press and Journal:


09:00 - 07 September 2005 A Highland pylon protest group was celebrating a significant boost yesterday.

Ullapool based Highlands Before Pylons (HBP) which has been vigorously opposing the possibility of an overhead pylon line from Ullapool to Beauly, was delighted to learn that Highland Council is modifying the Wester Ross Local Plan to make their opposition clear to high voltage transmission lines in that area. Members of HBP had objected to the failure of the current plan to include the safeguards for the A832 and A835 as scenic routes included in previous plans.

They have just been notified of the following addition to the plan: "One of the major current development issues in the Wester Ross Local Plan countryside area is the potential development of a transmission line between Ullapool ( Ardmair or Loch Broom) to Beauly to serve renewable energy developments in the Western Isles. We will oppose the erection of any overhead 400kV Extra High Voltage Transmission Line between Ullapool ( Ardmair or Loch Broom) and the local plan boundary at Dirrie Mor on the basis that such a route would be unacceptable in landscape and scenic terms"

An HBP spokeswoman said: "We welcome assurances from Scottish and Southern Electric that they are actively surveying a possible underground route for an interconnector with the Western Isles. But in view of Highland Council's opposition to the overhead option, HBP is surprised SSE is still surveying sites for pylons in the magnificent scenery Wester Ross. Should they publish plans for a pylon route it now seems inevitable that Highland Council will demand a public inquiry.

"HBP is lobbying the DTI and the executive to bring forward proper consideration of a sub-sea transmission system, now widely recognised as a cost effective alternative to the spread of unsightly power lines, that would enable renewable energy to be transmitted to its markets safely and with minimum loss of power."

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REF today welcomed Nicol Stephen's announcement that significant revisions would be made to the Renewables Obligation Scotland to ensure that the subsidy system offers more to technologies that themselves have more to offer.

REF has consistently argued that the Renewables Obligation was flawed in that it made no distinction between lower value randomly intermittent generation technologies, and those systems such as tidal and biomass plant, which are strongly predictable.

The result of these flaws in the RO, and what the National Audit Office has identified as a significant degree of over-support, has been an un- precedented rush to develop industrial onshore wind in many inappropriate locations. National Grid Transco revealed in the last few months that there are over 17,000 MW of wind (approximately 8,500 turbines) currently applying for grid connection in Scotland alone. Wind development on this scale is both impractical, and unsustainable.

The revisions that Nicol Stephen has announced recognise that some technologies have more to offer than others, although REF notes that the revisions are currently limited to marine technologies. The Foundation believes that any renewable generation capable of high value 'firm', i.e. dispatchable generation, should be preferentially rewarded. The general public is paying for renewable energy subsidies, and it has a right to expect that this cost is also an investment.

REF urges the Scottish Executive to push forward with further revisions, taking note of the National Audit Office's points, and those made by by the many engineering bodies now commenting on the lack of balance in the renewable energy policy.

Campbell Dunford, CEO of the Renewable Energy Foundation, said: "Nicol Stephen is to be congratulated on revising the Renewables Obligation Scotland to offer more to high value marine technolgies. In doing so he has shown such a strong and wise lead to Westminster, where similar revisions are badly needed for the RO applying to England and Wales. The fundamental logic of the Scottish Executives' revisions must be extended to the rest of the country, and to other high value technologies such as biomass." END

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-- Mike O'Carroll




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