opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development
REVOLT Newsletter 208
Revolt news 04/05/2006
1. Further to news that Highland Council will be objecting to the Beauly - Denny line, the full report to its PDET Committee on 12 April was agreed and can be seen on the Council web site. Windfarm objectors are still concerned (APPENDIX A).
2. Discouraging news about roof top turbines (APPENDIX B): structural and vibration problems seem to mirror those of a larger scale, as with the eagerness of politicians to be seen to have them. Better future design is hoped for, but problems of ineffectiveness remain.
3. Snips from news@all-energy issue 63 of April 2006 are at APPENDIX C.
4. Letter in the Sunday Telegraph 23 April 2006 "41 scientists debunk global warming" is signed by the 41 scientists (APPENDIX D). They oppose the president of the Royal Society (Lord Rees) who is championing global warming alarm like his predecessor Lord May. Lord Rees replies in the Sunday Telegraph 30 April. But the argument is not about global warming or not, it is about reasonable doubt as to the extent of its man-made component.
5. On the subject of political correctness and stifling dissent in science, Baroness Susan Greenfield is centre stage in the Royal Institution and the Social Issues Research Centre coming together to issue Guidelines on Science and Health Communication. The SIRC has been criticised for its disparaging approach to concerns about health effects of mobile phones and its strenuous support for their social benefits.
6. Front page articles by Nic Fleming in the Telegraph 26th and 29th April purported to report what SAGE is recommending on EMF. Don't believe all you read in the papers! SAGE has not yet reached conclusions though it expects to report later this summer. Meanwhile, media comment would be speculative or taken out of context, and hence likely to be inaccurate or misleading.
7. Following the article on 26th, the Scottish parliament had a brief debate (questions and answers) on EMFs and SAGE in connection with the proposed Beauly - Denny 400 kV line (APPENDIX E).
8. The Telegraph on 29th April included a piece on Dermot Finnegan's experience with National Grid and the impact on his property, reported in earlier Revolt news. That is a very unsatisfactory case complicated with many aspects.
9. BASSLINK CONCERNED CITIZENS COALITION INC - MEDIA RELEASE 29 April 2006 (APPENDIX F).
10. Forty percent of what? The Scottish Executive keeps changing its ground as it realises its 40% renewable electricity generation goal is unrealistic (APPENDIX G). That goal is what lies behind the Beauly - Denny powerline proposal, and many more to come.
11. The charity Children with Leukaemia, a co-sponsor of SAGE, has asked a cross-party group of MPs to look into EMFs in order to "encourage Government to take bold steps which may be recommended by SAGE by demonstrating parliamentary and popular support for the precautionary principle". The group has formed a Parliamentary Commission chaired by Dr Edward Stoate MP. It will seek views at four open meetings starting on May 8th and 15th. Enquiries: Catherine Nestor on 020 7930 3581 or email <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
12. The Welsh Affairs Committee is to hold an Inquiry into Energy in Wales. It will take oral evidence on Monday 8 May at the National Assembly for Wales. Enquiries: Jane Trew, Assistant to the Committee, on 020 7219 3264 or e-mail <email@example.com>.
APPENDIX A COUNCIL'S WINDFARM CURB STILL FAILS TO APPEASE PROTESTERS
http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk/ 09:00 - 15 April 2006
Public pressure has convinced Highland Council to curb its hunger for windfarms, but not enough according to opponents of giant turbines.
In the face of strong objection, planners have revised their maximum limit for production from onshore wind by 2050 by almost 20% and have cut their number of "preferred" areas for major windfarms from 11 to three - all on the eastern side of the region.
The rethink by the authority's green-energy working group completes a "treble whammy" of disappointment for energy firms in the Highlands this week. Planning applications from Scottish and Southern Energy for overhead pylons and doubling the size of the Beauly sub-station were both rejected.
Anti-windfarm campaigners are not jubilant, however.
Inverness business consultant David Henderson, a former economist with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: "The scaling down does not alter the principles of my objections.
"The preferred areas will be more compact than previously suggested, but will remain highly destructive and degrade areas of unspoiled beauty. Donald Trump wouldn't want to put a golf course near any of these."
Bob Graham, of Highlands Against Wind Farms, said: "Despite some clever juggling by the consultants, this very expensive rewrite is based on the same flawed principals as the original."
The rethought strategy, drawn up in secret meetings by councillors, developers and officials of various Government agencies, followed 11 weeks of consultation on a previous draft including six public meetings and council debate involving input from pressure groups.
The Highland planning committee will decide on Wednesday whether to recommend approval of the revamped 58-page document in a full council vote on May 4.
APPENDIX B Home wind turbines dealt killer blow Jonathan Leake, Environment Correspondent, The Sunday Times April 16, 2006 (short extract from the article)
ROOFTOP wind turbines may have become the accessory of choice among 'greener than thou' politicians, but a new study suggests that they are not only incapable of saving the planet but may even damage your house. David Cameron, the Tory leader, and Malcolm Wicks, the energy minister, are two politicians who plan to mount the devices on their London homes in, respectively, Notting Hill and Croydon.
However, a study commissioned by Building for a Future, a journal specialising in sustainable construction techniques, has found that rooftop turbines are plagued by technical problems and seldom generate significant amounts of power, especially in towns and cities.
The report finds that a typical rooftop turbine produces no more than a quarter of the average home's power needs, at best, and that in urban areas this is likely to be more like 10%-15%, because wind blows around towns in turbulent, unpredictable gusts.
In addition, older houses can face serious structural damage from the powerful sideways forces generated as the wind pushes against the turbines. This can be a particular problem if the turbines are mounted on chimneys.
APPENDIX C Snips from news@all-energy issue 63 April 2006
4.TRANSMISSION / NETWORKS
4.1.Beauly-Denny, third way called for
The Highland Council planning committee raised a formal objection to the upgrade of Beauly-Denny transmission line, but recognises that in principle the upgrade is a key infrastructure improvement for the Highlands and Islands www.scottishrenewables.com/newsitem.asp?id=104 more at www.theherald.co.uk/news/59991.html
4.4.The state of our networks
Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks welcomed the Energy Networks Association's first annual report into the state of gas and electricity networks http://tinyurl.com/qor4p
7.3.Wicks wants more microgeneration
UK Government launches strategy to increase local level energy production and reduce carbon emissions with the launch of the Government's first ever Microgeneration Strategy http://tinyurl.com/n3f8p
APPENDIX D 41 scientists debunk global warming alert The Sunday Telegraph 23 April 2006 Letter
The president of the Royal Society, Lord Rees of Ludlow, asserts that the evidence for human-caused global warming "is now compelling" and concerning (Letters, April 19).
In a public letter, we have recently advised the Canadian Prime Minister of exactly the opposite - which is that "global climate changes all the time due to natural causes and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural 'noise' ". We also noted that "observational evidence does not support today's computer climate models, so there is little reason to trust model predictions of the future".
Full list of signatories (41 mainly leading scientists in relevant disciplines) (Filed: 23/04/2006)
Lord Rees replies 30 April:
Prof Bob Carter and his 41 colleagues criticised me for describing the scientific evidence for human contributions to climate change as compelling (Letters, April 23). In 2001, a working group on the science of climate change for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a report by climate researchers, involving 123 lead authors and 516 contributing authors. It concluded that assessments based on physical principles and model simulations indicate that natural factors alone are unlikely to explain the recent observed global warming, and that uncertainties in our understanding do not prevent identification of the effect of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.
Since 2001, the scientific evidence has continued to mount, despite the denials by Prof Carter and his colleagues. Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, already at a level unprecedented in the last million years, have risen by 2 per cent more.
(Lord) Rees of Ludlow, President, The Royal Society, London SW1
APPENDIX E Scottish Parliament debate 27 April 2006
Roseanna Cunningham: To ask the Scottish Executive what input the Minister for Health and Community Care has had to Cabinet discussions about the health implications of the proposed Beauly to Denny transmission line. The Minister for Health and Community Care: Cabinet regularly discusses issues related to health. However, Scottish ministers operate on the basis of collective responsibility and do not disclose details of private deliberations. Roseanna Cunningham: That is a rather disappointing response. New concerns are being expressed about the health implications of overhead power lines, which were made public only yesterday and of which I hope the minister is aware, and the likely recommendation of the stakeholder advisory group on extremely low frequency electric and magnetic fields, which advises the United Kingdom Government, is that planning guidelines be changed to ensure that domestic residences are not built within 230ft of power lines or in locations where inhabitants would be exposed to certain strengths of electromagnetic fields-I hope that the equivalent position would apply when a new line is being proposed. In light of those developments, will the Minister for Health and Community Care now make clear his own position on the proposed Beauly to Denny power line, particularly in connection with its route and the possible health implications for nearby communities, especially where there are children? Andy Kerr, Minister for Health & Community Care: My first answer related to the fact that we do not discuss in public matters that go on at Cabinet. However, I can advise the member that I am of course aware of recent reports on the subject. The scientific community remains uncertain about the issue, so it has of course recommended that the precautionary principle should apply. Under the planning process, any concerns raised with Scottish ministers in environmental impact assessments and in responses from statutory consultees or any other bodies or individuals will be fully considered. That allows us to take in recent reports as part of our consideration. Dr Michael Clark, spokesperson for the Health Protection Agency, said: "There is no hard evidence of a risk but there is a hint of one in work done abroad and in a study here of a weak association between childhood leukaemia and living near power lines." We have to balance the scientific advice, always taking cognisance of it and, above all, always ensuring the safety of communities here in Scotland. Mr Mark Ruskell (Green, Mid Scotland & Fife): Given the scientific uncertainty, would the Executive be prepared to release information about the position that the Scottish Executive has been taking with respect to SAGE, on which it has a representative? In particular, has work been done in Scotland by the Executive's representative to examine precautionary distances between power lines and housing that apply in other countries? Andy Kerr: The Executive officer who participates in SAGE reports back to us regularly. We should ensure that we take the findings of any study in the round. Research has found a statistical association but has not established a causal link. Other scientists remain unconvinced. We are constantly aware of the work of the National Radiological Protection Board and other organisations that give us advice on these matters, and our decisions will always be taken in the best interests of the health of the people of Scotland. Murdo Fraser (Con, Mid Scotland and Fife): Does the minister consider it acceptable that Scottish and Southern Energy has not given any consideration to health issues when considering the route of the proposed new power line? Given that there is, at best, a reasonable doubt about the impact of electricity lines on health, should that not be a material factor in the determination of the application? Andy Kerr: As I have said previously, we will consider all aspects of the matter as and when Scottish ministers have to make their judgments. In responding to members' questions, I am simply trying to find a balance in relation to the scientific findings. No definite causal association between childhood leukaemia and exposure to EMFs and power lines has been made. There are differences of opinion. The job of the Scottish Executive is to examine all the available current research and to take its decision based on that. I repeat that this is about adopting a precautionary principle, ensuring that we do not endanger Scotland's population.
APPENDIX F BASSLINK CONCERNED CITIZENS COALITION INC
MEDIA RELEASE 29 April 2006
The handing over of the management of the Basslink interconnector from National Grid (NG) to Hydro Tasmania gives no cause for applause says Basslink Concerned Citizens Coalition, (BCCC); nor has it been "accepted" by all of the landholders (as stated by NG spokesperson ABC 12 noon 29 April 2006)
According to BCCC Chair, Mr Keith Borthwick, Basslink is a monument to reckless energy planning by both the Tasmanian and Victorian States and Federal governments. Filled with hope for export revenue by the introduction of the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target scheme, the Tasmanian government committed itself to a contract to build Basslink from which it could not extricate itself. They were egged on by a Victorian government desperate to shore up its sources of peak power energy, and a Federal Government desperate to shore up Tasmania's basket case economy.
We were told that Basslink would be viable, and we are not convinced. The Tasmanian Hydro will pay $94 million per annum for the use of Basslink with net revenues from the cable unlikely to reach anywhere near that amount. The Tasmanian Government has admitted that the project will run at a loss in the forthcoming years.
More than one politician has described Basslink as being "Good for Australia," but as the losses are being borne by the Tasmanian Government from its share of GST revenue, it is the rest of Australia that is subsidising the project.
We were told that Basslink provides green energy but it does not. Tasmanian Hydro will be relying on the importation of cheap off-peak brown coal energy from Victoria through Basslink to ensure its supply of peak power to the mainland.
The State and Federal governments required that a marine monitoring program be instituted as a condition of approval. But what we have is a watered down version with NG being allowed to avoid monitoring the effects of the cable on the marine habitat. They have has still not proved that its operation does not affect the marine environment, such as changing the migration route of whales in Bass Strait.
We were told that the Gippsland commercial fishermen's anchors would not affect the cables, which were meant to be safely buried in the reef and seabed. Four weeks ago NG announced that the fishermen would be provided with new anchors so as not to affect the cable.
We were told that the overhead Basslink cable in Victoria was safe but landholders are now being advised that fences running parallel to the cable may give off induced electric shocks that could be fatal. Because the viability of the project was so "finely balanced", the Victorian government was unwilling to apply the precautionary principle and failed to insist that more modern underground technology be used.
To hide the shortcomings of Basslink we have been subjected to an avalanche of "spin" from all interested parties. Contrary to the NG spokesman, the company has nurtured the goodwill of the affected communities through selective sponsorship. Small grants to local groups and co-sponsoring of local events do not make up for spoiling the scenic environment and causing landholders incredible stress and anxiety with unwarranted poor management.
The Joint Assessment Panel appointed by the three governments appeared to conduct itself with the objective that it was not there to stop the project but rather to ease it past any obstacles. The only time that the project faced possible defeat was when the Victorian Parliament voted on the amendments to the relevant Planning Schemes to allow Basslink to be built in Victoria. But a coalition of the Liberal and Labor parties ensured the passage of the Bill without demanding any concessions for Victorians affected by the project.
We can only hope that some lessons have been learnt and that the future projects will receive just and proper assessments before governments are committed to proceeding with them. Maybe we are already seeing an indication of this with the refusal of planning permission for the Bald Hills wind power project. Energy policy is too fundamental to our economy to be treated in the ad hoc fashion that we have seen since the advent of the national electricity grid.
There has to be an energy plan, devised for the whole country, which takes into account both the needs of the economy and the needs of our environment. One wonders if our current governments are capable of such a task.
-- Media Information Keith Borthwick, Chair BCCC 5148 2292 BH, 5197 7364 AH
mobile 0427 482 292
APPENDIX G 'Green energy goal has been 'fudged'
Kathleen Nutt Sunday Times 30/4/2006
THE Scottish executive has been accused of deceiving the public over the potential for renewable sources to meet the nation's energy needs.
Politicians and scientists have reacted angrily to a government commissioned report which admits that the executive's target of meeting 40% of energy needs from green sources by 2020 applies only to part of each year.
The report reveals that, depending on the development of renewables, the target would apply for between one month and six months of each year. For the remaining time the country would rely on conventional sources of energy.
The partnership agreement, which was drawn up by Labour and the Liberal Democrats as the framework for coalition government, states: "We will work towards our target for 40% of Scottish electricity generation to be from renewable sources by 2020 as part of our commitment to addressing climate change."
Last year the executive changed the target from 40% of the electricity generated to 40% of energy demanded, a lower figure as Scotland exports some of its electricity.
Until now ministers had not mentioned that the 40% figure applied to just part of the year. Executive officials yesterday said that it was necessary for the target to be met only some of the time.
However, scientists and opposition politicians accused the executive of being "deceitful" and of "shifting the goal posts".
Murdo Fraser, the deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said: "The executive is dissembling and effectively fudging the issue so it doesn't appear to have back-tracked. They now realise that as we get closer and closer to 2020 it's going to be impossible to meet the target."
Professor James Lovelock, a world renowned environmentalist and scientist who devised the Gaia concept of the earth, described the study as "one of the most obfuscating pieces of research" he had ever read. "The target should mean 40% for every day of the year," he said.
"It gives the impression the authors were trying their best to come up with the answers the politicians wanted. The target of 40% is monstrous nonsense. They haven't a hope in hell."
-- Mike O'Carroll
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