REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 206

Revolt news 02/03/2006

1. Former Enron boss Ken Lay comes before the US courts (APPENDIX A). Revolt well remembers Enron's key role in promoting the second Yorkshire 400 kV line and in contributing financially to a Labour Party conference. Objectors to large wind farms in treasured landscapes in Wales will remember Enron's key role in promoting the Cefn Croes wind farm. Anyone with savings affected by the stock market crashes after the millennium will remember the large impact of the Enron scandal, which is at the heart of the charges against Ken Lay. And those concerned about the Bush administration will remember the key role Ken Lay played as close friend and financial backer of the Bush campaign. It will be interesting to see if he gets away with it as he confidently predicts.

2. The UK has signed the European Landscape Convention. This should add some status to landscape in power line and wind farm considerations. See APPENDIX B. At least the Whinash decision (item 4 below) would seem to be in tune.

3. There was a members' business debate in the Scottish Parliament 22.2.06 on motion S2M-3642, in the name of Bruce Crawford MSP, on concerns about the increase of childhood leukaemia in the light of the Beauly to Denny power line proposal. Twelve members spoke, including the Deputy Minister Lewis Macdonald in response, plus three SNPs, two each of IND, CON and LD, a LAB and a Green, all solemnly reflecting their constituents' concerns and several calling for a public inquiry on the proposed line. The Green enthusiastically supported wind farms and powerlines to serve them, but accepted (just about) that short parts could be buried. He and one SNP had been sold the developers' spin on buried cables with "motorway sized trenches" according to the Green - that is so blatantly misleading! Just see the Revolt web site for photos of the completely benign 400 kV cables in Yorkshire - you can't tell they're there and crops grow normally over them. Most speakers referred to the SAGE group, and importantly the Ministerial response said SAGE's recommendations would be expected later this year in time for any inquiry. A link to the minute (last item of the day) is:

 http://tinyurl.com/lmtyv 

4. DTI and Defra announce 2.3.06 the decision to reject the Whinash wind farm application just outside the Lake District National Park (APPENDIX C). This was widely seen as a crucial test case. It was feared the government's renewable energy policy was being rolled out in a stop- at-nothing fashion with centralised decisions over-riding local views. That may largely be true, but this one stopped at something. Applause for Inspector David Rose and Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks, who emphasised the need for balance saying this shows the (new) planning system works. It shows that government guidance PPS22 and its Companion Guide, which encourage wind farms close to national parks, do not mean they will always be approved.

5. The HPA-RPD (the former NRPB now a Division of the Health Protection Agency) has started a Discussion Group on non-ionising EMF. Several public concern groups have been invited to the info5rmal dialogue; I missed today's meeting as I had a heavy cold. Delays due to motorway grid-lock apparently also affected the meeting. The agenda was to discuss three recent reports: HPA-RPD-005 on sources of exposure (see news196.1); HPA-RPD-010 on electrical sensitivity (see news199.9) and last month's report on EMF, melatonin and breast cancer. Quite serious concerns were raised by Professor Denis Henshaw about the last one, though discussion may not have got very far today. The Discussion Group is expected to meet about twice a year and is a welcome development in open consultation, though it would be more meaningful before rather than after publication of the reports. The real test will be in the response.

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APPENDIX A (from BBC news on-line 3.2.06) Ex-Enron boss upbeat over trial By Michelle Fleury Reporter, BBC World Business Report in Houston

Ken Lay, the former Enron boss whose trial for fraud and conspiracy begins on Monday, has said he is "very optimistic" about the outcome. In his last public appearance before standing trial, Mr Lay appeared relaxed as he attended his local church service in Houston, Texas. "We're going to have a long trial and a tough trial but we're going to be fine", he told gathered reporters. Mr Lay is charged with manipulating Enron's finances prior to its collapse. He and co- defendant, former Enron colleague Jeff Skilling, have pleaded not guilty. Church appearance Located in downtown Houston, the First United Methodist Church stands in the shadow of Enron's empty glass tower. But Ken Lay didn't glance in that direction as he walked, bible in hand, to the 11 o'clock service. Mr Lay was upbeat despite a judge's refusal last week to have the trial moved from Houston. Lawyers acting for Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling requested the change because of concerns jurors may be biased against them. "We'd prefer it not to be denied but it is whatever it is, and we're ready to go," Mr Lay added. Financial scandal Enron filed for bankruptcy more than four years ago. Investigators found out the former energy giant was using creative accounting to hide massive debts. Enron's fall, which led to 4,000 people losing their jobs, was one of the biggest financial scandals in history. Investors lost billions of dollars while many people saw their life savings wiped out. And while Enron's collapse seemed to come out of nowhere, it was soon followed by other scandals in corporate America. None, however, have had the same impact as Enron, which resulted in the introduction in 2002 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to clean up American business. Not guilty plea Since then, prosecutors have obtained guilty pleas from 16 Enron executives, including former chief financial officer, Andrew Fastow. But Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling, who face charges of conspiracy and fraud, are the ultimate targets of the Justice Department's Enron Task Force. The government will try to prove the two men - who are being tried simultaneously - both lied about the state of Enron's finances. Both men have pleaded not guilty. When asked by the BBC if he had talked to Mr Skilling recently, Ken Lay replied: "We communicate occasionally. Sure. But we're all getting ready for the trial and we're in good shape". Words of support The trial was originally set for 17 January. But a plea bargain by former senior Enron accountant, Richard Causey, caused it to be postponed until the end of January. Mr Causey pleaded guilty to securities fraud in exchange for a possible seven year jail sentence. If Mr Lay was worried about his former employee testifying against him, he wasn't letting it show as he left church on Sunday. "Mr Causey is a good man and an honest man," he said. As he headed towards his car, Ken Lay shook hands with fellow worshippers and received words of support. But there will be little forgiveness from the justice system if he is found guilty. Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling could spend the rest of their lives in jail. Before driving off, Mr Lay's final words were "we'll see you in court tomorrow". The outcome of the trial - which is expected to last more than four months - is hard to predict.

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APPENDIX B UK SIGNS EUROPEAN LANDSCAPE CONVENTION

http://tinyurl.com/lbuwa 

Summary sent courtesy of an Environmental Group

Yesterday, the UK signed the European Landscape Convention, the general measures of which are:

1. to recognise landscapes in law as an essential component of people's surroundings, an expression of the diversity of their shared cultural and natural heritage, and a foundation of their identity;

2. to establish and implement landscape policies aimed at landscape protection, management and planning;

3. to establish procedures for the participation of the general public, local and regional authorities, and other parties with an interest in the definition and implementation of landscape policies;

4. to integrate landscape into its regional and town planning policies and in its cultural, environmental, agricultural, social and economic policies, as well as in any other policies with possible direct or indirect impact on landscape.

See the Article 5 of the convention (General measures). This article specifies the measures needed to implement the Convention in each Party. The explanatory report on the convention states that these measures include actions to:

recognise landscape legally as constituting an essential component of the setting for people's lives, as reflecting the diversity of their common cultural, ecological and socio-economic heritage and as the foundation of local identity. Many European countries already make reference to the landscape in their constitutions or in their legislation on the natural or cultural heritage or on environment;

frame and implement policies to protect, manage and plan landscapes in keeping with the provisions of the convention, by adopting certain special measures;

lay down procedures for participation by the general public, local and regional authorities and other interested parties in the formulation and implementation of these policies. Landscape is an issue which affects the whole population and care for the landscape requires collaboration between a wide range of individuals and organisations.

systematically accommodate landscape into the country's spatial and town-planning policies, its cultural, environmental, agricultural, social and economic policies, and any other policy sector, which may have direct or indirect impact on the landscape, such as transport. The point of this provision is that landscape is not a question to be treated as a specialist field of public affairs. Landscape can be affected for good or ill by action in many sectors. Hence the need for governments to ensure that landscape objectives are taken into account in all relevant sectors of public life.

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APPENDIX C Giant wind farm plan thrown out (BBC 2.3.06).

http://tinyurl.com/lj7n2 

Plans to create England's largest wind farm in Cumbria have been rejected by the government.

The 55m development would have seen 27 turbines, each 377ft tall, erected at Whinash, near Kendal.

A six-week public inquiry last year heard from campaigners who said the project would destroy the landscape of the Lake District.

Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks said he agreed with the inquiry inspector that the plan should be thrown out.

Environmental groups such as Greenpeace backed the clean energy plans, but campaigners were worried about the visual impact on the countryside.

Global warming

The turbines would have occupied a 9-hectare (22.25 acre) area stretching between the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District National Park, close to the M6 motorway.

Chalmerston Wind Power and the Renewable Development Company led the proposed project to build the turbines, which would have generated around 67 megawatts of electricity.

The Cumbrian Tourist Board was amongst those opposed to the plans and naturalist David Bellamy vowed to chain himself to the turbines if building went ahead.

Mr Wicks said: "Tackling global warming is critical, but we must also nurture the immediate environment and wildlife. This is at the crux of the debate over wind energy.

"On this occasion, we agree with the independent inspector that the impact on the landscape and recreation would outweigh the benefits in terms of reducing carbon emissions.

"I know there was both support and opposition to the Whinash development, but I hope the winner here is the planning system, which has to be robust in its assessment of the merits of each proposal. Our commitment to renewable energy is remains firm."

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APPENDIC D DTI press release on Whinash decision.

Thursday 2 March 2006 09:59 Department of Trade and Industry (National)

MINISTERS REFUSE WHINASH WIND FARM APPLICATION

Ministers have rejected an application to construct a wind farm on common land at Whinash, near Tebay in Cumbria.

Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks and Rural Affairs Minister Jim Knight have accepted the recommendations of the Inspector, Mr David Rose, who held a public inquiry last year, to refuse permission for a 27 turbine wind farm at Bretherdale and Round thwaite commons, near Tebay.

Both Ministers accept Mr Rose's conclusions that the effects on the landscape and its value for recreation would be so serious that they would outweigh the benefits of securing a renewable energy source and the need to address climate change.

Mr Wicks said:

"Tackling global warming is critical but we must also nurture the immediate environment and wildlife. This is at the crux of the debate over wind energy.

"On this occasion, we agree with the independent inspector that the impact on the landscape and recreation would outweigh the benefits in terms of reducing carbon emissions.

"I know there was both support and opposition to the Whinash development but I hope the winner here is the planning system, which has to be robust in its assessment of the merits of each proposal. Our commitment to renewable energy is remains firm."

Mr Knight said:

"In reaching this decision, we considered the interests of the land owners, commoners and those with other access rights, and visitors to the area now and in the future. We balanced these against the implications for energy sourcing and climate change.

"I am satisfied with the Inspector's finding that the adverse impact of the proposals on the landscape, and the value of the area for recreation are, in this instance, of greater importance than the benefits in providing a source of renewable energy. Based on these findings, the decision to reject the application is a clear one."

Notes to Editors: 1. Section 194 of the Law of Property Act 1925 consent is required in situations where a proposal requires the use of common land. When deciding whether to give or withhold consent under section 194, Ministers are required to consider both "the benefit of the neighbourhood" and the "private interests" in the land. The "benefit of the neighbourhood" is defined as including the health, comfort and convenience of the inhabitants of any populated places in or near any parish in which the land is situated, and is considered in the context of the enjoyment of the common as an open space. The "private interests" are defined as including the advantage of the persons interested in the common i.e. soil owners and persons entitled to common rights.

2. Applications were made to the DTI for consent to construct and operate the wind turbines under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 and for planning permission to be deemed to be granted under section 90(2) of the town and Country Planning Act 1990. Section 36 consent is required for proposals to build power stations with a capacity of more than 50 megawatts.

3. Defra and DTI appointed an independent inspector to hold a public inquiry into the applications, which ran from April to June 2005.

4. A copy of the Inspector's report is available from the Common Land Branch, Defra, Zone 1/05 Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol BS1 6EB. Tel: 0117 372 8006.

5. Copies of the section 36 decision letter is available from Gary Mohammed, DTI, Room 2121, 1 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0ET email: gary.mohammed@dti.gov.uk 

Department of Trade and Industry 7th Floor 1 Victoria Street London SW1H 0ET

Public Enquiries +44 (0)20 7215 5000 Textphone +44 (0)20 7215 6740 (for those with hearing impairment) http://www.dti.gov.uk 

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-- Mike O'Carroll

 

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