REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 202

Revolt news 11/12/2005


Tomorrow Monday 12 December is the last day to send objections to the Beauly - Denny line. They should be sent to the Scottish Executive. The email address is Mr David Ray . You must include your name and address and you should ask for an acknowledgement. Several items in this newsletter are relevant. I shall email a short objection asking for a public inquiry to address such things as:

* UK-wide alternatives including undersea cables;

* strategic assessment;

* local undergrounding and new technology;

* precaution in respect of health;

* intensive public examination of local impacts and possible local mitigation, including convergence of powerlines at Beauly; convergence of powerlines at Denny; impact within the Cairngorms National Park.

In my view these are issues which need public examination of inputs which can only be made through a public inquiry. The issues cannot satisfactorily be considered by SSE and its environmental impact assessment nor by the Scottish Executive and its consultations, in the absence of a public inquiry.


1. Aidan Arnold, Chairman of FUEL (Fingal for Underground Electric Lines), has a letter published in the Irish Farmers Journal, the main national farming paper (APPENDIX A). The ESB is the counterpart of the National Grid in Britain. Although the legislation in the two countries is different, some problems for landowners seem similar. Clearly disputes are widespread in Ireland. Inadequate compensation for the imposition of powerlines lies at the heart of the problem, particularly in comparison with telecom masts. The problem seems to be exacerbated by the secrecy of the grid companies. Why would they bind landowners with confidentiality clauses if they are not trying to disadvantage landowners?

2. Further to Dermot Finnigan's message in news201, he writes that all the information produced on drawings relating to health and safety information plus swing and sag relates to a 275kV line, while the line on his boundary is 400kV, which is bigger. The line may be operating at 275kV but it would presumably still be the larger size of a 400kV line, which would affect the swing.

3. Another landowner Bob Coventry, troubled by grid developments on neighbouring land in west Lancashire, responded to Dermot Finnigan's message, on the subject of bonfires and insurance. His response and a reply from Dermot are at APPENDIX B. An important question this provokes is whether properties within 10 metres of an HV power line should be subject to a wayleave, in view of the imposed liability in respect of bonfires. That would be a bigger distance than the swing.

4. Highlands Before Pylons  have made excellent progress in re-opening the consideration of undersea cables and new technology, for both the west and east coast of Scotland. Their recent press releases are at APPENDIX C.

5. Snips from news@all-energy issue 58 of Dec 2005 are at APPENDIX D. It quotes AMEC as opposing the Beauly - Denny line in favour of undersea cables.

6. An appeal from Cairngorms Against Pylons is at APPENDIX E.

7. Literally at the eleventh hour I made a short submission to the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change. The deadline was Friday 9 December. This is an important review announced by the Chancellor which will report to him and the Prime Minister by autumn 2006. I expressed concern about the political hype of global warming, while recognising that the risk warrants proportionate precaution, and particular concern about the politicisation of the Royal Society with its efforts to suppress dissent. The more substantive part of the submission was the Call to Re-classify Wind Power as Non-Renewable, from news184 with slight amendment, which also suggests exempting Good Quality Wind Power under strict definition.

8. Here is a People's ASBO (call it a PASBO) for National Grid, for being such a nasty neighbour. They bring (and deliberately exacerbate) real damage and loss to innocent residents. Why on earth do they shove their giant power lines hard up against the boundaries of powerless neighbours? (Well, perhaps we know, it's for money and to help secure the direct landowner's agreement.) That is what they have done to Dermot Finnigan at Fairways Farm, Sale (APPENDIX F), even to the extent that he claims the line crosses the boundary. Here's what NG should do. When a line must pass near to neighbouring land, with the nearest conductor likely to be within 10 metres of the boundary horizontally, they should consult the landowner and occupier and offer the usual wayleave terms as for an oversail. That would cover questions not only of crossing the boundary but also of swing and safety distances. It's not much, but it is better than imposing safety problems on entirely uncompensated and disempowered neighbours. And it would be cheap and simple routine for NG. National Grid, consider yourself PASBO'd. And do something about it!

9. How to deal with wind farm protesters? Chinese police shoot them dead. It's not really funny, is it? It's about money (again) and inadequate compensation. It's a life and death matter for Chinese citizens, not quite the same for Scottish landowners, but what seems the same is the universal tendency to abuse of power, reflected in inadequate compensation to both landowners and neighbours. Adequate compensation would be just, but expensive. Over-compensation would have us all queuing up for more pylons. Why can't we get it right? Back to abuse of power? 

10. On the eve of the deadline for objecting to Beauly - Denny, 10,000 objections are expected (APPENDIX G). See the NEWSFLASH above for how to email an objection.

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APPENDIX A Aidan Arnold's letter 30th October 2005 to the Irish Farmers Journal

Re your article on ESB of 29th October 2005

Dear Sir

Your two page feature on ESB dealings with farmers re overhead powerlines was an accurate outline of the farming organisations relationships with ESB but unfortunately that is totally unrepresentative of the actual situation throughout the countryside.

At present there are ongoing disputes between ESB and landowners in Cork, Dublin, Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Kerry, Wexford, Donegal and Galway over erection of pylons and the compensation and interference payments on offer from ESB. One dispute in Cork went on for eight years before it was finally settled this year. In this instance ESB had to radically change the route of the pylons and had to pay out money in compensation to all the landowners based on real land values and loss of development potential. ESB insisted on a confidentiality clause so as to prevent the actual compensation figures from being disclosed.

You refer to "a seven page Code of Practice that outlines the steps ESB should take when accessing private land". This Code of Practice was signed by IFA and ESB on 21/10/1985 and has not been reviewed or updated in the intervening 20 years. It is hardly a coincidence that following the Gormley v ESB court case, 1985 was also the year that new legislation established the right of landowners to be properly compensated for losses arising from ESB's entry on to land with powerlines. The IFA/ESB Code of Practice was a genuine attempt at the time to establish landowners rights and to put guidelines for a compensation package in place.

While it only sets out guidelines for both parties and is not a legally binding agreement, it is nevertheless an important and valuable document. ESB constantly refer to it in their correspondence, in environmental impact studies and in all discussions and negotiations concerning the erection of electricity power lines across farmers' lands. IFA still refer back to this Code of Practice in the event of any disputes or negotiations.

Large sections of the IFA/ESB Code of Practice relating to proper work practices, access, reinstatement of land, indemnification etc. are still relevant, but other sections are now out of date and in serious need of updating. Problems are particularly acute with regard to mast interference payments.

The table which you published, entitled "Annual payments for ESB masts and poles on land", is supposed to address this issue. This document is a schedule of payments based on the size of a pylon, drawn up by the ESB and linked to the Consumer Price Index. The payments on offer in 2005 range from 8.53 Euro per annum for a single wooden pole to 213.34 Euro per annum for a massive 16.8m x 16.8m pylon. A typical pylon which ESB intend to erect in Fingal would give farmers a deduction of 51.38 Euro off their electricity bill in 2005.

So we have a situation where landowners are being offered 51.38 Euro per year for placing a pylon on a farmer's land while telecommunication companies are freely paying in excess of 10,000 Euro per annum for similar structures and IFA is being used by ESB as a veil of respectability for this situation. Landowners are fully aware that everyone needs a properly functioning national electricity grid and they do not expect exorbitant settlements. All they want is a reasonable payment, but their good will and their properties are being abused under the present arrangements as long as the present agreement is not updated.

IFA and ICMSA are now competing to be the organisation which is seen to best represent farmers in negotiations with ESB. They recently participated in a radio debate, both claiming to have done deals with ESB which they would like to see recognised as the basis for a national agreement on this issue. "My deal is better than yours". "No, my deal is better than yours". And while the two main farming organisations squabble, ESB are laughing all the way to the bank with 250m Euro profit in their back pocket, soaring electricity costs and landowners being left with only a pittance. What both organisations fail to recognise is that neither of them have hammered out an agreement that is even remotely attractive or fair to farmers.

No account is being taken of changing land values and the loss of development potential that often accompanies the arrival of pylons and powerlines. Absolutely no account is being taken of the scientific evidence that living close to powerlines carries serious health risks. It should also be noted that An Bord Pleanala have an appeal with them since December 2004 (case number RL2210 if anyone wishes to check up on its present status) which questions the right of the ESB to erect fibre optic cable without applying for planning permission. Ten months have gone by without a decision of any kind on this matter. Farming organisations are being used by ESB to legitimise their rediculously low payments, and landowners are the only ones who are suffering in the process.

Aidan Arnold Chairman Fingal for Underground Electricity Lines (FUEL)

***** *****

APPENDIX B Correspondence on bonfires and insurance.

Message from Bob Coventry:

We too enjoy a bonfire celebration every year on our property. This year we had an attendance from a friend who is also a local fire officer. He noticed the HT cables across our field and pointed out that we should not build a bonfire within at least 10m from HT cables due to the increased risk from 'thermal arcing' from the cables to the bonfire. When instances of this nature occur, they have no means of fire suppression and have to leave the fire to burn out accordingly. With this in mind, what happens in the event of a domestic or industrial fire that lies within the 10m band or directly beneath the HT cables? Do insurance companies penalise property owners?

Dermot Finnigan replies:

It is clear from Zurich Insurance that they will not cover any claim whatsoever relating to a high voltage power line and will not consider extending my current cover. NGT have conformed to me there is no insurance cover for the areas of safe limits of approach. Couple that with the DTI and NGT say you have to do your own risk assessment and they would hold the individual responsible for any damage to the line from your fire. The interesting thing is the difference in safety limits described by your fire officer friend. I suggest you write to your insurance company to notify them of this gap and write to NGT and ask them for the same service given to me i.e 58 pages of safety info, a drawing showing the safety zones and a visit from an expert to explain it Pointing out the criteria laid down by the fire officer and ask them to let everybody know in time for next year.

***** *****

APPENDIX C Press releases from Highlands Before Pylons

HIGHLANDS BEFORE PYLONS PRESS RELEASE 28.11.05 Contact: Sue Hopkinson 01854 612756 Paul Driver 01854 613288 Eddie Hughes 01854 655357 

subsea cable on the agenda at last

The Ullapool based campaign group Highlands Before Pylons ( HBP) is delighted that AMEC, one of the leading companies behind the Lewis Windfarm proposals, is to consider a subsea interconnector from Stornoway to Hunterston as an alternative to SSE's preferred option of a cable from Stornoway to Ullapool and an overhead pylon line from Ullapool to Beauly. Speaking over the weekend ( as reported in the Sunday Times), Amec's managing director of wind energy , David Hodkinson, said

"We believe the full range of options needs to be reviewed under the guidance of the Scottish Executive, including the possible subsea link direct to southwest Scotland."

HBP has been campaigning vigorously for the last 18 months for the subsea option to be reconsidered. The DTI continued to rule it out on grounds of costs, basing their figures on th PB Power report of 2002 whose whopping estimate of 1.75 billion included taking a cable twice as big south to Merseyside, and the infrastructure required to gather energy from wind farms, which will now be paid for as part of the wind farm development. HBP produced costings based on modern cable design, at today's prices, showing as AMEC now accepts, that the costs of a subsea cable are broadly in line with the costs of a new overland interconnector . If the advantages of the subsea route are taken into account +little loss of power through resistance +no disruption through bad weather +no health risk +no loss of environmental amenity threatening the tourist industry +quicker planning consents it will be surprising if the Scottish executive does not heed AMEC's call and work with Ofgem, and NGT to promote the subsea option

hbp will continue to lobby for the subsea option down both the east and west coasts of scotland

working with the umbrella group SCOTLAND BEFORE PYLONS and the newly formed Beauly based group PYLON PRESSURE to prevent the Highlands of Scotland being desecrated by giant Pylon lines, when alternative transmission options fit for purpose in the 21st Century are available.

HIGHLANDS BEFORE PYLONS PRESS RELEASE 30.11.05 Contact Sue Hopkinson 01854 612756 Mobile 07748 121 612 Paul Driver 01854 613288 Eddie Hughes 01854 655357

scottish and southern electricity now researching modern underground HVDC cables for western isles interconnector

Hard on the heels of AMEC's announcement last week that it is giving serious consideration to a subsea interconnector from Stornoway to Hunterston, HBP has learned that SSE that after months of claiming that the technology for undergrounding cables is unproven, expensive and involves motorway width conduits, is looking at modern Japanese technology as a possible means of undergrounding a cable from Ullapool to Beauly.

Landowners along the route have been contacted for permission to survey their land this December , to see if it is suitable for undergrounding HVDC. SSE has looked at recent undergrounding schemes in Australia and Japan and believes that Japan has successfully developed reliable underground technology

The proposal is to bring a subsea cable from Stornoway to the head of Loch Broom and then underground the cable through the Lael Woods and then southwards approximately 80 yards east of the A835 to the Garve side of Braemore Junction, across to Strome woods and then follow the line of the A835 to Loch Luichart.

a public enquiry might find that undergrounding sse's proposed beauly to denny upgrade is also viable

HBP has been working hard to spread the message that the huge sums quoted by SSE for undergrounding were based on old fashioned technology and this welcome new development will spur on the demands for a public enquiry into SSE's proposed Beauly to Denny Upgrade. If a cable can be undergrounded alongside the A835 why not roadside conduits of c. 6 metres alongside the A9 , banishing the threat of mega pylons on this route? However

subsea cables down both the east and west coasts of scotland are an even better alternative, since they could remove the need for both the Ullapool to Beauly line and the Beauly to Denny upgrade

HBP is supporting the campaign by Pylon Pressure and Stirling Before Pylons to demand a public enquiry in which we can find out +Why there has been no overall Strategic Environmental Assessment into these plans for the transmission infrastructure and +Whether SSE has considered all the alternatives before asking for planning consent for an environmentally destructive scheme

demands for a public enquiry must be sent to the scottish executive energy consents unit before Dec.13 Information from :  or  telephone hotline: 01463 741903

HIGHLANDS BEFORE PYLONS Press Release 30.11.05 Contact Sue Hopkinson 01854 612756

sse addressing campaigners concerns

Following this Press Release SSE has pointed out that from their point of view it is not entirely fair to state that they have kept claiming that undergrounding the cable from Ullapool to Beauly would involve a motorway width conduit.

This was their claim in May 2004 but since then they have been investigating more modern methods of undergrounding DC cables. HBP is happy to acknowledge that this is so and that so far as this route is concerned SSE has kept its word to investigate alternatives to pylons and although it has not been prepared to rule them out, they are addressing our concerns and coming up with new ideas.

SSE says that the situation so far as Beauly to Denny is concerned is different and would involve the wide conduits. This issue was addressed in the Babtie Report comissioned by Highland Council, SNH amd cairngorm National Park. However HBP is supporting other groups along that route in ongoing research into the cost of undergrounding, with a view to ascertaining if there are other routes and other cable technologies that could bring the cost down and be less intrusive environmentally.

***** *****

APPENDIX D Snips from news@all-energy issue 58 of Dec 05.

3.1. One issue .... and assorted views

Scottish Renewables, warned that a victory for the anti-lobby in the Beauly-Denny power line debate would "kill the future of renewables in Scotland stone dead"

Meanwhile Amec is to propose an alternative scheme involving a 200-mile underwater cable. Amec has said that an overland cable scheme should be abandoned,,2090-1893071,00.html 

 "I do not agree with Amec's unhelpful call that the Beauly to Denny transmission upgrade should be abandoned just because Amec proposes an alternative route to export power from the Western Isles" - David Thomson, Chairman, Shetland Renewables Forum 

3.3.True-blue green

"I believe in decentralising the grid. That way we won't have huge blackouts across Europe" - Zac Goldsmith, who is inspired by the RE initiatives of some West Country hamlets 

6.4.Tidal power for Mersey?

The Mersey River may soon become the first river in Britain to generate electricity by tidal activity....... a tidal power fence could generate an estimated 2,000 megawatts of electricity 

8.3.Hydro continues Utsira project

"The combined wind power and hydrogen facility on Utsira has become a globally recognized landmark in the development of new energy systems based on hydrogen. By continuing this project we hope to get even more experience and vital knowledge about combining wind and hydrogen," Ulf Hafseld of Hydro's unit for new energy 

***** *****

APPENDIX E Appeal from Cairngorms Against Pylons

The Beauly - Denny power lines - which will cross through the National Park - and in particular run right through the village of Kinloch Laggan decimating the views which have received so much publicity through the Monarch of the Glen series.

We have now reached a very crucial moment in our efforts to force the Highland Council to hold a Public Inquiry to look into the detail of this scheme.

The Highland Council say they will not recommend a public inquiry unless The Cairngorm National Park Authority advises them that there is serious objection to the scheme. Unfortunately this is subjective. Many of you have already supported us and objected - and separately we have passed on to the Cairngorm National Park Authority approx 2700 individual letters from objectors. That is a large number for an area in the highlands. From reports we are getting this is not enough. The Scottish Executive appears to be very keen to force this through because of the wind farms they have already given consent for, most of which will become redundant and irrelevant if the country opts for nuclear power - which looks almost certain.

It would be really helpful if you could muster all those you know who have an interest in the Highlands or the Kinloch Laggan area and get them to register before December 12 which is the closing day for objections. This is our last main chance to get them to agree to a Public Inquiry - bearing in mind the landscape and views of the area is in a National Park because three years ago it was considered to be of National importance - it does not seem an unreasonable request.

Further objections can be registered by logging on to our website  or on the internet Cairngorms Revolt Against Pylons. If you follow down the page to 'What you can do' - this is followed by a registration form.

Thank you very much for your help. Andrew Feilden

***** *****

APPENDIX F Plea from Dermot Finnigan

For the last month I have been trying to get an answer to what I think is a very simple question. The DTI and NGT refuse to answer so I have written a total of 8 letters to the Prime Minister, 15 letters to the Secretary of State Mr Alan Johnson and the Permanent Under Secretary Sir Brian Bender so I was wondering if I could post the question on your next release of Revolt in the hope someone will answer.

What right has National Grid Transco got to impose the risk of death, shock, or burns into our lives and across our land without consent?

The point is very clear that these risk are all covered under a CPO, wayleave or easement and are all contained in the safety information issued to me by NGT

None of which are in place at my home.

It is the 'without consent' that troubles both the DTI and NGT.

Can I yet again call upon your help if you would be able to post this question.

***** *****

Press and Journal -10/12/05 09:00 - 10 December 2005

An Estimated 10,000 objections against the proposed 320million electricity pylon line upgrade between Beauly and Denny have now been collected and will be lodged with the Scottish Executive.

This lunchtime, hundreds of demonstrators are expected to join a march through the Ross-shire town to highlight Monday's deadline for registering an opinion on Scottish and Southern Energy's (SSE) plans for the transmission line. They want a public inquiry on the issue, alleging the 400,000-volt scheme poses risks to health, the countryside and the Highland economy.

SSE chiefs argue that there will be 200 fewer pylons along the 137-mile route than the existing 800.

But objectors are furious that, at 200ft, many of the replacement structures would be twice as high as they are now.

***** *****

-- Mike O'Carroll




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