opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development
REVOLT Newsletter 05/09/2006
Revolt news 213
1. Janet Street-Porter reminds us of wind farm infrastructure in her reference to a "large, ugly electrical substation" on an unspoilt hill (APPENDIX A). She's changed her tune from waving the Ramblers' Association banner in praise of the "beauty" of wind farms - perhaps her members put her right. Why can't they design and site substations more sensitively?
2. news@all-energy number 69 of August 2006 has been received. See www.all-energy.co.uk for details. This issue has lots of the usual PR on renewables of all kinds but little of special interest to Revolt.
3. The Scottish Executive announced 30-8-06 that there will be a public inquiry into the Beauly-Denny line application (announcement APPENDIX B; reactions APPENDIX C).
4. Issue 70 ("late August") of news@all-energy has one item of interest to Revolt on the refusal of SSE's application for developments at Beauly (APPENDIX D).
5. An exciting example of low-cost underground cables (UGC) has been installed in County Wexford in Ireland. Some 22 km of UGC have been buried under country lanes to take power from a wind farm. This is a 110kV AC power line, comparable to the 132 kV system on pylons in England and we are told the same cables could be operated at either voltage. Further, the total installation and material costs are said to be similar to or only around twice the cost of an equivalent overhead line! Three cables are installed each in 150 mm diameter trunking, in a trefoil formation, with a fourth used for communications. There is no ongoing disturbance to the country lanes. Revolt expects to have more details and photos soon.
APPENDIX A "Large, ugly electrical substation"
In this green contest, the environment loses Janet Street-Porter http://tinyurl.com/pofvg
13 July 2006 The Independent (c) 2006 Independent Newspapers (UK) Limited
Plans to fast-track planning applications for commercial wind farms unveiled by the Government this week have caused consternation among environmentalists. To launch his plans, Mr. Blair decided to take a boat trip from Whitstable in Kent to see the new wind farm which has just been completed of f the coast.
Of course, this was really another photo-opportunity in our two political leaders' media battle to appear more green and loveable than the other. Shame that Mr. Cameron slightly upstaged Blair by getting planning permission for a wind turbine on the roof of his house in Kensington the very same day.
There is no doubt that wind farms can supply us with another vitally needed source of energy. But constructing them close to areas of outstanding natural beauty or reserves nature serves is always going to be controversial. I doubt Mr. Blair was too interested in the David and Goliath struggle going on a few miles down the coast from where his boat trip began Graveney Marshes are said to have inspired Charles Dickens and Daniel Defoe. The coastal path which runs from Seasalter and Whitstable along the Swale estuary and into Faversham is one of my top coastal hikes in Britain.
But the consortium planning to build 270 wind turbines in the sea off the North Kent coast, Shell WindEnergy submitted a proposal to build a large, ugly electrical substation on unspoilt Cleve Hill, overlooking Graveney Marshes. Apart from the fact that this monstrosity would take two to five years to build, and completely disrupt the tranquility of a Kentish backwater, the large rectangular building would have been totally out of keeping with the rural location. Graveney is a tiny hamlet, with a charming small flint 11th-century church, fields of cherry trees and reedy pastures with a network of drainage ditches where sheep and cattle graze.
The villagers formed an action group, set up a website, lobbied councillors and publicised their case in the local press. Early in June they managed to halt the Shell consortium's multimillion-pound plans when Swale Borough Council turned down the planning application. But the campaigners should not be celebrating yet- because the consortium has several months in which to appeal, and now it looks as if Fast Track Tony will ensure that another bit of rural Britain is desecrated for ever.
Up in North Yorkshire, the people of Harrogate know only too well how commercial wind farm operators have the ear of government. In spite of huge local opposition, and being turned down by Harrogate Council, a wind farm is to be built right on the edge of the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, at Knabs Ridge. The developers just went straight to John Prescott, who overruled the local council within a fortnight. The turbines will be visible for at least 15 miles, right inside the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Well done, John! Surely the future for wind power lies in encouraging people to use less electricity and in the Government taking a lead by declaring they are going to cut their consumption by at least 10 per cent a year?
APPENDIX B Announcement of public inquiry into Beauly-Denny line. http://tinyurl.com/lwfnk
30/08/2006 The proposed upgrade to the overhead electricity transmission line between Beauly and Denny will be referred to a public inquiry, it was announced today. Reporters appointed by Scottish Ministers will be holding pre-inquiry meetings to explain the process and programme to those who wish to take part in the inquiry. Meetings will be held in a number of locations along the proposed route, commencing early in October.
It is hoped that the inquiry will start in early 2007 and that the report of the inquiry will be submitted to Ministers by the end of that year for a final decision. Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and Scottish Power Transmission (SPT) Limited application is seeking consent under Section 37 of the Electricity Act 1989 for their proposal for an upgraded 400 kV overhead electricity transmission line between Beauly and Denny.
Besides this authorisation under the Electricity Act, the applicants have further proposals to acquire the necessary land and to construct sub-stations. These components of the development have not yet been referred to Scottish Ministers for decision.
An extensive consultation exercise concluded on 30 April 2006 with over 17000 representations received. The five Planning Authorities within whose boundaries the proposed development falls (Highland Council, Perth and Kinross Council, Stirling Council, Falkirk Council and Cairngorm National Park Authority) have all objected to the application.
APPENDIX C Reactions to announcement of Beauly-Denny inquiry (Scotsman).
PYLON PLANS DELAYED AS OBJECTORS WIN INQUIRY
08:50 - 31 August 2006 Thousands of people opposed to doubling the size of pylons running down the spine of the Highlands were jubilant yesterday, having forced a public inquiry into the issue.
The costly hearing will delay the upgrade of the 137-mile line between Beauly and Denny for at least another year, frustrating the applicant Scottish and Southern Energy and green energy developers, who have complained that such 'people power' has recently slowed up the entire planning process.
SSE chiefs last night stood by their controversial plan for boosting overhead transmission lines to accommodate an expected surge of power, predominantly from onshore windfarms, while continuing to dismiss public demand for undergrounding cables.
The expense of the inquiry will be borne by council taxpayers, whose local authorities ultimately triggered the hearing with their official objections to the 400-kilovolt plan.
The debate threatens to overshadow many other issues at next May's Holyrood and council elections.
Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber MSP Fergus Ewing warned that the Scottish Executive was intent on accepting SSE's proposals despite a clamour for undergrounding the line.
Bob Graham, chairman of Highlands Against Windfarms, fears an inquiry would alter nothing.
"The executive will pay lip service to the issue but push this through anyway," he claimed.
A spokesman for the executive insisted: "No decision on the application has been made. Objections from local authorities were picked up during the consultation process which is why it has been referred to a public inquiry."
SSE spokesman Alan Young told the Press and Journal: "We went through very long voluntary consultation processes and made many changes as a result of it.
"On undergrounding, we can't emphasise enough that there has been an independent piece of work done, commissioned by Scottish Natural Heritage, the Cairngorms National Park and Highland Council."
He said the report concluded that there were significant environmental concerns associated with placing extra high voltage lines underground and would "cost six to 12 times more than overhead lines".
More than 17,000 objections have been registered including those of all five planning authorities along the route - Highland, Perth and Kinross, Stirling, Falkirk and the Cairngorms Park.
Backing the existing SSE proposals, Maf Smith, chairman of the developers' forum Scottish Renewables, said: "An inquiry is necessary to take a calm view of what is being proposed and focus on what the key issues are that people have for the line."
He felt the delay added to the industry's frustration over recent planning and investment decisions, which had been blamed for crises at the Vestas fabrication yard in Campbeltown and the Arnish production line on Lewis.
Kiltarlity community councillor Ronald MacLean of Pylon Pressure said: "We would imagine at the very least that SSE will now examine the argument for putting these lines underground."
Eilean Aigas estate owner Brendon Clouston, who in April warned of legal action if the SSE plan was approved, said: "The challenge is to make our case and make sure that the remit of the inquiry covers all of the relevant issues including undergrounding."
Roy Tylden-Wright of Cairngorms Revolt Against Pylons said he was delighted the authorities had listened.
Views of Scotland chairman Dave Bruce said the executive had bowed to the inevitable and that "a note of sanity" seemed to have entered the renewables debate.
News of the inquiry was equally welcomed by the Stirling Before Pylons pressure group.
A panel of reporters appointed by the executive will host pre-inquiry meetings along the proposed route of the line from early October to explain the process to those wishing to take part in the public hearing.
The inquiry itself is expected to start early next year and its findings will be submitted to ministers by the end of 2007 for a final decision.
APPENDIX D Snip from news@all-energy issue 70.
3.GRID AND TRANSMISSION ISSUES
3.1.Beauly Denny blow
Councillors unanimously refused an application to extend an electricity substation at Balblair, near Beauly, to accommodate equipment needed for the upgrade of the line. http://tinyurl.com/r5tku
-- Mike O'Carroll
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