REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 200

Revolt news 15/11/2005

A 200th news issue might be time for reflection. Unfortunately time is pressing and this goes out in a hurry. There is an Ofgem deadline this Friday (item 5 below) and the Beauly-Denny objection deadline of 12th December (news197.7). The topics of the day are very much on Scotland, the victim of UK government windfarm policy and subsidy, exacerbated by the even more bullish Scottish Executive targets. Not only does Scotland face the prospect of several more giant powerlines (news195-appendix1), but so does England as a consequence. It needs longer term strategic planning, just what Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks avoided in his July statement, leaving it to fragmented commercial stakeholders whose interests are both territorially blinkered and different from those of the public.

1. Elizabeth Mann is one of those dedicated volunteers brave enough to take on the world. Apart from taking on the wind industry, and winning, she has climbed Kilimanjaro at age 70 as well as other world peaks. Her self-sponsored book Force 10 gives the full account of the defeat of the Barningham Moor wind farm proposal in the Teesdale Pennines. As things have moved on, she has produced a Supplement bringing the inside story up to date, countering the government's PPS22 Supplement and exposing the way government policy is forced on us through regional assemblies. She has a go at barristers too, which surely deserves an extra mark. The Supplement can be accessed on the web as a (large) pdf file or obtained on CD (there is only a limited number of bound volumes). The Revolt web site has a link as does Elizabeth's site at  http://www.wind-farm.co.uk/ .

2. It was good to hear from Toby Hall, who says he's now a ' powerline exile' living in Prague since March, but still involved in the struggle to get appropriate transmission in Sligo and the North West. Toby passes on this link from Wired News to a commercial vertical wind turbine in the USA which claims advantages of effectiveness, impact and safety over the familiar "propeller" design. It can also be used in industrial areas where the "propeller" design cannot. http://tinyurl.com/bvqun

3. Cameron Gibson writes from the north of Scotland that they have a new pressure group to campaign about the Beauly situation regarding massive expansion of HV lines in and out. The first objective is opposing the Beauly Denny line. Their web site address is  http://www.pylonpressure.com

4. Scotland Before Pylons, the umbrella Scottish group, has issued a press release (short version at APPENDIX 1). The group has obtained replies from key people at DTI, Ofgem and National grid and has exposed the way responsibilities for total planning of the Great Britain transmission system are being side-stepped. The group has estimated costs for a shorter undersea cable (to central Scotland rather than Merseyside) from the Hebrides, and shown that they are competitive with overland lines. For full papers see the group's web site  http://www.hbp.org.uk

5. Ian Paterson alerts us to an application from Scottish Power to Ofgem for approval of funding for additional capacity on the western interconnector from Scotland to England. Ofgem is seeking comments by 18 November. Ian suggests points to make (APPENDIX 2). Emails may be sent to  amrik.bal@ofgem.gov.uk . My concern is that arrangements for the implied bulk transmission needs arising from government wind energy policy and subsidy have not been adequately thought through. More interconnector capacity may not be immediately necessary and may prejudice longer term strategy. In particular undersea cables may prove to be more economic when compared with the total cost of overhead transmission (and associated works) from northern Scotland to central and southern England. Such a comparison would be full-cost-reflective and more appropriate than previous and piecemeal comparisons with short connections to the nearest grid point to wind developments.

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APPENDIX 1 HIGHLANDS BEFORE PYLONS PRESS RELEASE Nov 5th 2005

Summary of press release. Contact : 01854 612756 / 01854 613288 ....future of subsea transmission option depends on planners considering Beauly to Denny upgrade....DTI

Transcripts attached of letters recently received byHBP from : a)Minister of Energy- Malcolm Wicks b)Chairman of Ofgem- Sir John Mogg c)Group Director of National Grid Transco- Nick Winser

Key points: 1.The DTI has no intention of reconsidering the option of a long submarine interconnector from Lewis south. They think this is particularly inappropriate now that SSE has submitted its proposals for Beauly to Denny upgrade. HOWEVER THEY BELIEVE IT IS UP TO THE PLANNERS TO PROBE WHETHER THERE ARE VIABLE ALTERNATIVES TO OVERHEAD HTV LINES This means that the DTI assumes that the Stornoway to Beauly line is part and parcel of the planned Beauly to Denny upgrade raising the question already asked by Highland Council. Why are the developers being allowed to submit proposals piecemeal instead of publishing their overall plan? The sequence is as follows + Planning consent is sought for the Lewis Windfarms before interconnector is agreed + Consent is sought for the Beauly to Denny upgrade to transmit the extra 1000MW of potential energy from Lewis before the windfarms are agreed + No proposal is yet tabled for the Western Isles Interconnector without which the windfarms are not viable and the Beauly to Denny upgrade is less pressing. In Europe this is known as Salami slicing and it is against European law.

2.NGT has already offered wind developers in the Western Isles transmission based on network developments utilising onshore overhead cables rather than more extensive subsea cables. They see this as the model for transmission for future offshore wind developments also.

3.Ofgem points out that the transmission operator(SHETL) has prime responsibility under the Electricity Act for planning and development of transmission. However, ofgem sets the price control and can make extra money available eg to preserve the landscape.They have approved additional funding for specific transmission investment which includes a Beauly to Denny upgrade, but not the Ullapool to Beauly overhead line.Piecemeal development again.

4. All are committed to economic and efficient solutions and to have regard for the environment. However they claim to have no up to date studies in place to compare costs of subsea and overland transmission.

5. The PB Power report commissioned by the DTI and published in 2002 is quoted as the reason for ruling a subsea West Coast Interconnector out of consideration on grounds of cost. The DTI and others extracted costs of between 1.7 to 2.5 billion from the report. But this included 10% contingency allowance and was based on transmitting 2000KW rather than 1000KW and included the cost of local distribution grids to collect power from offshore generators.

6. HBP figures show ( paper attached) that the true cost of a subsea cable from Stornoway to Hunterston or Inverkip, which both already have the infrastructure to feed into the National Grid would be 300 to 400 million , comparable to the 350 million SHETL estimate for the Stornoway to Beauly link .

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APPENDIX 2 Notes from Ian Paterson of Scotland Before Pylons re. Scotland/England Interconnector.

Dear All,  Scottish Power recently requested funds to be made available by Ofgem to upgrade the Scotland /England interconnector. At present these funds would only be made available if the Beauly to Denny project receives planning consent or if there was additional connection activity in western Scotland.  Ofgem says it welcomes views from all interested parties on Scottish Power's submission. To view the submission visit .. www.ofgem.gov.uk and go to publication 238/05.  SSE & Scottish Power are now worried that if Beauly to Denny goes to Public Inquiry it could scupper some of their "development" plans. If the Scotland / England interconnector funds were now authorised by ofgem this would..1. Allow a whole lot more windfactories to go up in Southern Scotland and 2. Give more reason for Beauly to Denny to go ahead in due course.  We need to try to persuade Ofgem not to authorise the funding. WE HAVE ONLY TIL the 18th NOV TO DO THIS. SO PLEASE EVERYONE E-MAIL OFGEM ASAP.   SEND EMAILS to...amrik.bal@ofgem.gov.uk  [Some possible points to make ...]

international concerns on relying on large amounts of intermittent onshore wind energy generation which has the potential to destabilise the grid and divert funds and focus away from an effective nationwide energy strategy.

The huge environmental footprint of the current onshore wind energy generation and its need for excessive transmission lines also needs to be investigated and costed. The consumers need all these issues to be properly addressed before more funds are released and potentially squandered. Therefore no funds for a Scotland /England interconnector upgrade should be authorised until the proposed Beauly to Denny development is fully examined at a Public Inquiry.

And ask for an acknowledgement of your email.

This proposal is not justified at this time as the stated level of connected capacity of 4.4GW from renewable sources is not assured.  There is approximately 5GW of capacity from renewable sources applying for consent from the Scottish Executive. The Executive's Energy Consents Unit cannot provide a timetable for assessment for these applications, nor can an indication be given of the capacity likely to receive consent. Therefore the location, capacity and timeframe for connection is unknown.  Allowing the upgrading of the Western Interconnector to commence at this time with such a level of uncertainty is not in the economic interest of the consumer."

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-- Mike O'Carroll

 

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