REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 226

Revolt news 23/05/2007


1. The Shetland Times reports 18 May that the world's longest submarine power cable could be laid between Shetland and the south-east of England, coming ashore at up to seven points along the east coast, to carry electricity to the nation's cities (APPENDIX A).

2. The government white paper on planning announced Monday 21 May can be seen at  and a report on it at . It aims to streamline procedures for major projects, with government laying down the UK-wide national need and an Independent Planning Commission to replace public inquiries. While streamlining can be helpful, our experiences lead us to suspect this will worsen the disadvantage already faced by objectors.

3. The WHO is to hold a workshop on precaution for EMFs 21-22 June in Geneva. The ground is similar to that examined by SAGE in the UK, but the agenda looks set to "explain" the WHO position, rather than genuine open discussion, and participation seems to be by invitation. 

4. Increasing EMF exposures from Wi-Fi differ from those from power lines, but are raising similar concerns and involve many of the same decision makers. Panorama this week was especially revealing (APPENDIX B, with voting details). You can catch the repeat (or record it) on BBC1 Thursday night / Friday morning at 0025.

5. The Energy White Paper released today has been headlined as putting nuclear power on the agenda (which it already was, of course). Nevertheless it is also full steam ahead, to use a delightfully inappropriate metaphor, for renewables and wind farms in particular. A BBC version of key points can be seen at . The Energy Review itself can be accessed, when the site is not too busy, from .

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APPENDIX A Undersea cable plan linking isles to England 

John Robertson 18 May 2007

THE WORLD'S longest submarine power cable could be laid between Shetland and the south-east of England to carry electricity to the nation's cities.

The plan hatched by the Crown Estate would remove one of the biggest hurdles to Shetland's giant community windfarm which can't go ahead without a subsea interconnector to the mainland, estimated to cost over 400 million.

The Crown Estate has just had a study done into the feasibility of a multi-billion pound cable being laid along the entire east coast of the UK, coming ashore at up to seven points between Shetland and London to upload more power from other electricity-generating schemes or offload supplies to urban areas.

The Crown Estate believes its concept could solve the nation's problem of having an electricity grid which is incapable of sending power from where it is produced to where it is needed.

A submarine cable system would have a major advantage by getting around the controversial requirement for a chain of unsightly electricity pylons across scenic countryside.

The head of the Crown Estate's Scottish marine estate, Ian Pritchard, told The Shetland Times the likely capacity of the cable is not yet known but it would easily accommodate the 600 megawatts that the Viking Energy wind turbines would generate.

Yesterday Viking Energy director Bill Manson said the company was aware of the study and is interested in its outcome. If such an interconnector did go ahead he said it would probably mean the proposed windfarm would not need its own cable.

He said: "We, and I assume the government, are interested in anybody that is willing to put in infrastructure of that nature. Whoever does it, it's the cost of use that is the critical factor for us."

As well as carrying power from wind, wave and tidal schemes in the islands and the north of Scotland, Mr Pritchard said the cable might pick up non-renewable power from the likes of the nuclear station at Torness, which generates one-quarter of Scotland's electricity needs.

Another possibility is to link across to Europe to help even out peaks and troughs in power demand at home and abroad. There has also been speculation that a cable could be laid between Teeside, England, and Norway to perform a similar function.

Mr Pritchard said: "It may be that to make the economics work and also to benefit from perhaps cheaper electricity generation in other countries, such as Norway, a link there would help."

Interestingly, there has also been speculation among energy experts that a cable could potentially carry new power generated by converting the huge reservoirs of untapped gas from west of Shetland into electricity, perhaps at Sullom Voe but possibly at Peterhead where the St Fergus gas terminal is.

Paying to manufacture and lay the high-capacity cable would probably be up to a consortium of power companies, Mr Pritchard said, possibly with the National Grid company.

He said: "It wouldn't be something that the Crown Estate would actually put in. But we can help to facilitate the process of seeing whether or not it's going to be something that Scotland and the UK would benefit from."

The Crown Estate would make its money from granting a lease to the cable owners.

Mr Pritchard said: "The feasibility study was to look at whether this was pie in the sky or whether there was any likely reality to it making economic sense."

The Crown Estate has already received an initial report resulting from the study and, according to Mr Pritchard, will release the findings in due course.

If positive, it will then seek project partners and embark on a more- detailed feasibility study.

Whether or not the cable system proves economically viable, it would be politically desirable in encouraging wind, wave and tidal schemes to help cut global warming and in ensuring the country continues to have its own power supply once oil declines.

The cable concept is apparently the brainchild of the Crown Estate's marine estate director, Rob Hastings, who joined the organisation from Shell UK where he was in charge of the oil company's offshore renewables business.

The Crown Estate owns almost all the UK seabed within the 12-mile limit as well as about 55 per cent of the nation's foreshore. It grants leases for all cables and pipelines that cross its seabed and for those that cross the UK continental shelf out to 200 nautical miles.

From Shetland to London is nearly 600 miles (957 kilometres) as the crow flies and a cable skirting in and out of points along the coast would make it a considerably longer system.

As Mr Pritchard said: "It's established technology but this is taking it to a place where it hasn't been before, in all respects."

* The world's current longest submarine power cable is being completed between Norway and the Netherlands.

The NorNed cable reached the coast of Norway last month and, when completed, will be 360 miles long (580km).

A Shetland to London cable might even be trumped by an Icelandic/German proposal to lay a cable to the UK or Germany to carry power generated by drilling into the earth's molten core lying about three miles under Icelanders' feet.

The steam from temperatures of up to 600 Celsius could power up to 1.5 million homes in Europe in about 10 years' time.

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APPENDIX B BBC Panorama on Wi-Fi EMF concerns.

The BBC programme Panorama found that radiation levels from wi-fi in one school was up to three times the level of mobile phone mast radiation.

The programme interviews Dr Mike Repacholi (former head of EMF at WHO and now industry consultant) and Sir William Stewart (of the Stewart Report into mobile phones, now Chair of the HPA). Repacholi reinforces his image as a hard-line opponent of precaution with a gung-ho approach to industry marching on regardless of EMF exposures. Bill Stewart on the other hand counselled precaution for children over mobile phones, and calls for a full investigation into Wi-Fi before rolling it out on a large scale in schools.

Some reactions to the programme from anti-precaution scientists are at 

The notorious phrase "there is no evidence" appears in "Scientists have said there is no evidence to suggest a link between the use of wi-fi and damage to health.". This phrase should always arouse suspicion! It often means there is a great deal of evidence but in total it remains inconclusive.

In this case Bill Stewart is quoted as saying that there was evidence that low-level radiation - from devices like mobile phones and wi-fi - did cause adverse health effects.

Some reactions from schools are at 


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-- Mike O'Carroll




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