REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 211

Revolt news 03/07/2006

1. A senior Highland Councillor is concerned about the costs of the public inquiry for the Beauly - Denny line (APPENDIX A). Apart from four local authorities, SNH and the Cairngorm National Park Authority, another 7,000 objections to SSE's planning application were submitted. Highland Planning Director John Rennilson said "...I think we will see an upgraded line. We are fighting to ensure the route is correct and that the line is put underground in a couple of small sections." That seems fair comment to me.

2. North Yorkshire was rated the most beautiful county in England in a recent poll, ahead of Devon in second place. Don't worry Devon, we are soon to be plastered with wind turbines if, as expected, the planning system prevails in enforcing national policy on local governments. So our top spot won't last.

3. The Yorkshire and Humber Plan will have its Examination in Public (EiP) starting 12 September at the Leeds Metropole Hotel. The first Preliminary Meeting was held 31 May but I was double-booked so missed it, but I had submitted formal representations. Close behind, the Hambleton District LDF Core Strategy has its Examination starting 10th October following a Pre-Exam Meeting on 28th June at the Civic Centre, Stonecross, which I did attend. Hambleton is targeted to be disproportionately plastered with wind turbines.

4. The new LDF (Local Development Framework) planning system derives from the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. According to the inspector at the Hambleton Pre-Exam meeting on 28 June it is completely different from the old system and very new - Hambleton is among the first few authorities going through it, but all will have to follow. The hearings will be round-table style and inquisitorial, led by the inspector, rather than adversarial through legal advocates. It will also be much quicker and smaller. So far so good, but the worry is that it will be bound to impose national and regional policy (e.g. on wind farms), leaving little room for effective local representations.

5. Snips from news@all-energy no. 66 of June 06 are at APPENDIX B, with news of important grid developments for Scotland and Ireland.

6. The Royal Society of Edinburgh has completed its review of energy in Scotland. The report makes thirty-seven recommendations, including calling for an independent 'Energy Agency' and for the abolition of the Renewables Obligation. The full text of the report is available online from: http://www.royalsoced.org.uk/enquiries/energy/index.htm 

7. The Irish Independent http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/  reports 30-6-06 "The Government is to allow windfarms in scenic areas nationwide. Those with more than 50 giant turbines are to go through a fast-track planning process, bypassing the local authority. The moves, announced today, are bound to infuriate growing numbers of communities."

8. National Grid's annual report http://www.nationalgrid.com  is published, ahead of the AGM on 31 July 2006. The summary public statement (in the Annual Review) on EMFs "recognises that there is some scientific evidence suggesting that certain adverse health effects are linked to EMFs", whereas the slightly longer statement in the large Annual Report adds "The balance of evidence remains against both power- frequency and radio-frequency (EMFs) causing ill health". We disagree with this latter opinion, not only in its content, but also in its lack of objective assessment and its variance from published data and reviews. The quantitative scientific evidence does not support NG's assertion, though NG may find loose verbal support from exclusive specialist advisory bodies such as in WHO, in which NG enjoys close involvement and influence.

9. Meanwhile, the SAGE group, which hoped to complete its recommendations on powerlines to government in June, has extended this work to the autumn. Its a busy summer already!

***** *****

APPENDIX A COUNCILLOR SAYS PYLONS INQUIRY A WASTE OF MONEY

Press & Journal 08:50 - 01 June 2006 A Costly public inquiry into the proposed upgrade of the Beauly to Denny power line would be a waste of public money because its outcome has already been decided, according to a senior Highland councillor.

Jimmy MacDonald told a planning meeting in Inverness yesterday that taxpayers would be horrified to learn that the legal costs alone for councils' objecting to aspects of Scottish and Southern Energy's proposals would be around 450,000.

Planning director John Rennilson said Highland officials had already discussed the prospect of an inquiry with their counterparts from the other councils along the route along with the Scottish Executive and representatives of Scottish Natural Heritage.

He explained: "We have discussed employing the one advocate and using the same technical experts to reduce the cost and also to reduce the length of the inquiry.

"We have no details yet how the inquiry will be organised, but we expect two reporters and an inspector from the Department of Trade and Industry will be involved."

Mr Rennilson believed a hearing would start in Stirling and work its way northwards to deal with site-specific issues. He said the cost to council tax payers had not been budgeted for, but he was confident it would be shared between the relevant local authorities and public agencies with a vested interest.

He went on: "Highland Council can be expected to pay 40% of the cost. There will be an additional cost of 100,000 for the planning and development department."

A public inquiry, which is expected to start early next year, would be likely to last nine months.

Apart from four local authorities, SNH and the Cairngorm National Park Authority, another 7,000 objections to SSE's planning application were submitted. Scorguie councillor Jimmy MacDonald said: "The site visit took us 11 hours and 95% of the scheme was acceptable. The remaining 5% to which we object means that the taxpayer will have to pay 500,000 for lawyers and QCs.

"This is a waste of money because at the end of the day the executive will approve it anyway. We are paying out a huge sum for a result we already know."

Strathpeffer and Strathconon councillor Douglas Briggs said: "I hope councillor MacDonald's rather cynical view is not borne out, otherwise we might as well give up public local inquiries."

Senior planner Jimmy Gray said: "The Highland Council area has the longest stretch of the cable, but why should we pay 40% of the cost? As has been said already, the objections we have concern very short stretches of the new line."

Mr Rennilson responded: "It may not be 40%. This was our first stab at it. We will probably pay on a daily rate, for issues concerning the Highland area.

"The 40% is based on the length of the line, but we will pay for the length of time the QC is involved on Highland issues. We have not challenged the need for the link, but there are areas of dispute and one stretch where we and SNH don't agree and we will have to give separate evidence." Planning committee vice-chairman Francis Keith said: "I got the impression during the site visit that SSE would consider under- grounding some stretches, and that would save them a lot of hassle and it would save us a lot of expense."

Planning chairman Sandy Park also expressed the hope that SSE would agree to negotiate.

Speaking after yesterday's meeting, Mr Rennilson dismissed the claim that an inquiry would be a foregone conclusion.

He said: "We have four specific concerns and if we are serious we have to pursue those at the inquiry if we have to and hope we can persuade people that changes we want would be cost-effective and would be environmentally effective and would help us support tourism.

"The council will not be spending the total figure mentioned today. The ballpark figure is the total cost. I think we will see an upgraded line. We are fighting to ensure the route is correct and that the line is put underground in a couple of small sections."

***** *****

APPENDIX B Snips from news@all-energy No. 66 of June 06

5.1.SSE submits revised planning application

Scottish and Southern Energy has submitted a revised planning application for an extension to its substation near Beauly to The Highland Council. http://www.scottish-southern.co.uk/SSEInternet/ 

5.2.Pylon inquiry could take 9 months

A public inquiry into plans for a 137-mile overhead power line through Scotland could take nine months and cost Highland Council more than 500,000 http://news.scotsman.com/scotland.cfm?id=796322006 

5.5.120m North-South electricity link announced

In Ireland a North-South electricity interconnector costing 120 million, will be put in place between County Tyrone and County Cavan by 2012. www.4ni.co.uk/news.asp?id=52030 

5.6.Plan to export islands' RE to Norway

Green energy could be exported from Scotland to Norway and Ireland. The Scottish Executive has funded a feasibility study examining the possibility of linking Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles to a subsea power network www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2090-2210494,00.html 

-- Mike O'Carroll

 

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