opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development
REVOLT Newsletter 231
Revolt news 27/07/2007
1. Dermot Finnigan of Sale, writes that a trial has been set for the second week of February 2008 when the court will determine whether National grid's 400 kV powerline oversails his land, taking account of the disputed boundary position and the swing of the line in the wind.
2. Bill Bryson, author of Notes from a Small Island, makes a special plea for burying power lines in his Presidential address to the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). See APPENDIX A and http://tinyurl.com/2qqvkt
3. The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, an important body which presents reports to Parliament, is inviting comments on the choice of topic for its next in-depth study. Among a short-list of 8 topics there is "The electromagnetic environment". Comments are invited by 24 August. http://www.rcep.org.uk/futurestudy07/.htm http://tinyurl.com/2wuuzm
4. Snips from news@all-energy 93 are at APPENDIX B.
5. The Parliamentary Cross-Party Inquiry into Childhood Leukaemia and ELF EMFs (formerly called a Parliamentary Commission, news229.9) has this month produced its report which is at http://www.epolitix.com/EN/Forums/CPIELFEMF . The report calls for a moratorium on new overhead power lines and homes within 60 metres of each other, following the SAGE report, and goes further to seek consideration of a separation of 200 metres. A related Parliamentary Question (Oral Answer) referring also to the related Early Day Motion 1949 is reported at APPENDIX C. That specifically calls for a 200 metre separation for the proposed Beauly-Denny 400 kV line in Scotland.
6. A group called PLACE seeks to improve the visual impact of telecoms masts and is presently also calling for undergrounding a power line. See http://www.viewsvistasandreverie.org/ which highlights the "Crieff Solution" where telecoms antennae are hung on real trees to reduce visual impact. Unfortunately power lines are not amenable to anything similar.
7. Richard Johnson reports from Canada (intriguing mention of official spies infiltrating concerned citizen groups!) at APPENDIX D. Richard also forwarded an article, at APPENDIX E, on the Children with Leukaemia campaign with an up to date timetable of key events, from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/77000.php
8. Ofgem is consulting on its proposals on charging wind farms for long distance transmission losses, which could deter windfarms in the north of Scotland. The trade body Scottish Renewables is of course objecting. See APPENDIX F. http://tinyurl.com/35h3oz
9. The 2007 Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics (aka DUKES) is published 26 July by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (aka BERR, ex DTI). With many detailed tables, supported by charts and commentary, the Digest provides comprehensive data for 2006 and an account of trends in energy supply and demand in the United Kingdom. The Digest is available both in hard copy from The Stationery Office and free on the Internet at: http://tinyurl.com/2rfcom
APPENDIX A Extract from Bill Bryson's CPRE Presidential address.
But in the meantime there are three matters that I hope and intend to pursue anyway....
The first is.....
Second, pylons and overhead wires generally. To me, marching ranks of pylons are way too common in the countryside, and inexcusably alien and ugly. Too often when you go into the country you end up feeling as if you have wandered onto a set from War of the Worlds.
In 1986, at the time the electricity companies were being privatized, The Economist magazine calculated that if all the electricity generating companies were required to devote one half of one percent of their turnover to burying overhead cables, we would be able to bury 1000 miles of them every year. There are 8,000 miles of high-voltage power lines in this country, so they would all be buried now.
Instead they seem to be a part of nearly every rural scene, nearly always running along hilltops and ridgelines where they ruin views in both directions. Other countries make electricity companies paint their pylons dark green or otherwise lose them against the background. I don't understand why National Grid, the company responsible for erecting pylons, is allowed such freedom. We don't put motorways on the tops of hills. We don't run natural gas pipelines overhead. Why should power lines be permitted to go wherever it suits the distributing company to put them?
At a minimum there should be a presumption against allowing pylons within sight of World Heritage sites, national parks or areas of outstanding natural beauty. But really they should just be taken away. I don't pretend to understand the economics of electricity distribution, but I do know that Denmark buries 18 percent of its high voltage cables while Britain manages just 6 percent. Surely this is something we could be looking into.
APPENDIX B Snips from news@all-energy 93.
3.GRID, NETWORKS AND POWER COMPANIES
3.1.Connection costs should be cut The cost of connecting green energy schemes in the Scottish islands to the National Grid is untenably high and should be cut, according to a new report http://tinyurl.com/3a8y4c
3.2.Iberdrola set to top RE rankings Iberdrola is set to pull ahead of US-based FPL Energy in the renewable energy stakes. They have been running almost neck-and-neck in terms of installed RE capacity (excluding large hydro) with 4,193MW and 4,174MW respectively http://tinyurl.com/3yo6dn
3.3.Testing underground cables The University of Southampton has developed a remote monitoring system for high voltage power cables buried underground. http://tinyurl.com/2rnjzd
APPENDIX C House of Commons - Oral Answers
Date published: 20 July 2007
Business Questions: Leukaemia
Michael Connarty (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (Lab): Has the Leader of the House had a chance to look at early-day motion 1949, asking for support for the report of the cross-party group on childhood leukaemia and electric and magnetic fields, which has over the past year been ably chaired by my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Dr. Stoate)?
[That this House welcomes the launch of the July 2007 Report of the Cross-party Inquiry into Childhood Leukaemia and Extremely Low Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields (ELF EMF); supports the recommendations of the inquiry which includes a moratorium on the building of new homes and schools within 60 metres of existing high voltage overhead transmission lines, increased funding for research into the link between childhood leukaemia and EMF, the implementation of the Government's SAGE report recommendations, and the protection of homeowners by providing them with information about the levels of EMF in any property; and calls upon the Government to take into account the dangers of EMF in transmission and distribution in its Energy Review and on the Department for Communities and Local Government to take all the inquiry's recommendations into consideration in planning for all new homes and schools.]
Will the Leader of the House find time to get Ministers in the appropriate Department to look at our recommendations, some of which are pressing? We are calling for a moratorium on the building of houses within 60 m of pylons. Will she also ensure that there is dialogue with the Scottish Executive, which is considering the proposal for the Beauly to Denny supergrid? It will be a 400 kW grid and we are calling for a zone around it of 200 m in which schools and houses should not be built. That is a pressing matter. Many children have died from childhood leukaemia that is clearly linked to the proximity of their homes to pylons.
Ms Harman: I congratulate my hon. Friend on the work he does as part of the cross-party group on childhood leukaemia, and my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Dr. Stoate) on his chairmanship of that group. It is a difficult subject on which the science is advancing. I will draw this matter to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health.
19 July 2007
APPENDIX D Richard Johnson reports from Canada.
Note that in Tsawwassen BC, Canada the concerned citizens behind trahvol are making a bid to have their concerns related to the proper application of the precautionary principle heard at the Supreme Court. See www.trahvol.com
Also note that there are currently transmission line battles underway in Alberta and three cases that I'm aware of in Ontario... Halton Hills, Toronto and York Region.
The case in Alberta is particularly interesting because the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board is under three separate investigations as a result of hiring spies to infiltrate a concerned farmers group related to a transmission line running from Calgary to Edmonton. The spies pretended to be farmers and they even joined conference calls between the citizens and their lawyers. The Premier at least initially supported these actions for "security reasons" but the backlash in the Media (i.e. the Edmonton Journal and the Calgary Herald was fast and furious.
There are a lot more news stories, but I am sure you get the idea.
The trancripts from the Alberta hearing look a lot like similar cases in BC and Ontario. See LINK: http://tinyurl.com/2yzasb
APPENDIX E Article on the Children with Leukaemia campaign against overhead power lines.
Report By MPs Will Save Young Lives, Say Leading Leukaemia Charity, UK
Main Category: Lymphoma / Leukemia News Article Date: 19 Jul 2007 - 15:00 PDT
Leading childhood leukaemia charity, CHILDREN with LEUKAEMIA, has welcomed a new report from a Cross-Party Inquiry of senior backbench MPs, which they say adds unprecedented political support to the growing international scientific, medical and professional consensus that a precautionary building moratorium should be introduced to protect children's health.
The report, being launched in Parliament at 10.30am on Wednesday 18 July, will recommend that Government introduce a building moratorium within at least 60 metres of existing High Voltage Overhead Transmission Lines.
Edward Copisarow, CEO of CHILDREN with LEUKAEMIA said "This report really gives Government the green light it needs to introduce precaution in the UK. Precautionary measures have already been introduced in Europe (Switzerland, Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands) and as far afield as Australia - it's now time for us to follow suit. This report clearly comes down in favour of precaution now and it does so solely on the basis of preventing childhood leukaemia. "
The Inquiry, made up of five MPs with a particular interest in health, is one of a number of groups and individuals who have called for the introduction of precautionary measures to reduce EMF exposure following the publication of the Draper Report in 2005, which reported an association between children living near power lines and a 70% increase in risk of leukaemia.
Over 220 MPs signed an Early Day Motion demanding that the Government supports CHILDREN with LEUKAEMIA's call for an immediate moratorium on new homes being built near power lines, the Government's Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAGE) concluded in April that a building ban was the 'best available option' to reduce exposure and recommended more information be given to the public on the potential health risks of EMF exposure. In response to the recommendations in the SAGE Report, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) called on the Government to legislate to restrict the building of new homes and schools next to existing power lines and most recently, a new Report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that implementing 'very low-cost precautionary procedures to reduce [EMF] exposure is reasonable and warranted'.
Eddie O'Gorman, Chairman of CHILDREN with LEUKAEMIA, who lost a son to leukaemia and a daughter to cancer, has campaigned for 20 years for a better understanding of the effects of EMF and power lines. He said "This report is yet another example of the weight of opinion on this issue, not only from families affected, but well respected politicians, scientists and the general public. Action needs to be taken and taken now".
Background Timetable Of Events Leading Up To MPs Report:
March 2002 The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Extremely Low Frequency Magnetic Fields (ELF EMF) are defined as 'possibly carcinogenic to humans' and classified as a 2b carcinogen.
2004 The National Radiological Protection Board recommended that the Government should 'consider the need for further precautionary measures in respect of exposure of people to EMF'.
2004 The Stakeholder Advisory Group on EMF (SAGE) was established, funded by the Department of Health, National Grid and CHILDREN with LEUKAEMIA.
June 2005 The Draper report published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal). The largest single study of childhood cancer, conducted by the Oxford Childhood Cancer Research Group in collaboration with National Grid, it used the records of almost 30,000 children with cancer in England and Wales. The study found that children living within 200m of high voltage power lines had a 70% higher risk of leukaemia than those living 600m or more away. A full copy of the report can be viewed here.
2005 Responding to Draper Report, CHILDREN with LEUKAEMIA called for a moratorium on new homes being built near power lines and an Early Day Motion (EDM) in support of this has been signed by 223 MPs, ranking it one of the most widely supported backbench motions.
2006 Dr Howard Stoate MP chaired the first meeting of the Cross-Party Inquiry into Childhood Leukaemia and Extremely Low Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields (ELF EMF). The secretariat of the Inquiry was supported and funded by CHILDREN with LEUKAEMIA.
April 2007 The SAGE First Interim Assessment was published. It identified a building moratorium (on the building of new homes and schools within 60 metres of existing 275 kV and 400 kV power lines and the building of new power lines within the same distance of homes and schools) as 'the best- available option for obtaining significant exposure reduction'. For lower voltages - 132 kV, 110kV and 66 kV lines, SAGE suggested 30 metres would be the appropriate distance for such a moratorium. The SAGE Report can be viewed at http://www.rkpartnership.co.uk/sage .
April 2007 Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) called on the Government to legislate to restrict the building of new homes and schools next to existing power lines.
June 2007 World Health Organisation (WHO) Environmental Health Criteria Monograph on Extremely Low Frequency Fields (No.328) was published, and concluded that 'provided that the health, social and economic benefits of electric power are not compromised, implementing very low-cost precautionary procedures to reduce exposure [to ELF EMF] is reasonable and warranted.'
June 2007 In answer to a parliamentary question, the Government stated that they had referred the SAGE Report to the Health Protection Agency for it's advice. The HPA is currently considering the SAGE report, and is expected to report their recommendations back to Government later in the summer.
APPENDIX F Press Release from Scottish Renewable Foundation
Date released: 27 July 2007
Ofgem set to undermine Scottish community renewable schemes
Electricity regulator approves additional discrimination against renewable energy developers in the North of Scotland
Scottish Renewables, the green energy trade body, today said Ofgem, the industry regulator, will undermine Scotland's effort in the fight against climate change if it approves plans to reduce the competitiveness of Scottish generation in the UK market.
All large projects and many small ones, including community renewables projects, will face income reductions with increased charges planned by Ofgem, and when combined with increased business rates for renewables, up to a quarter of total annual turnover will go on paying these charges. Meanwhile, generators will be incentivised to locate in the south of England with a range of subsidies, even though the renewable electricity resource may not be so strong and opportunities for deployment are limited.
Ofgem wants to approve plans to reduce the value of every kilowatt hour generated in Scotland by imposing charges for using the National Grid based on a generator's location and seems to disregard the fact that land owners, communities and developers have little choice where to locate their projects. The 'zonal transmission loss' proposal closely follows the introduction of punitive transmission use of system charges and combined they strike at the heart of the competitiveness of generators in the Highlands.
Commenting on the Ofgem proposals, Jason Ormiston, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, said: "At a time when the UK Government's chief scientific adviser has said that climate change is the greatest threat to humanity, here we have the industry regulator penalizing renewable electricity generators for generating where the resource is greatest. Ofgem want to encourage more generation in the south of England whilst Governments want more renewables to help tackle climate change - this is the proverbial square peg and round hole and it is time that Ofgem matches its decisions with climate change policy.
He added: "The cumulative effect of a range of regulatory charges faced by industry means that the economics of a number of onshore wind projects in northern Scotland will now become more marginal and it is possible that a number of these will not make it to deployment. Moreover, if these proposals put a Highland project's feasibility into doubt, the bigger question is what will be the likely impact on new district scale biomass projects, or the nascent wave and tidal energy projects? World-class innovative technologies such as the Pelamis wave machines may struggle to survive in the current market if these increasing cost burdens are allowed to accumulate.
"In a world where capital is a very mobile resource, will Scotland be able to attract the investment needed to kick start the potential of wave, tidal, biomass and offshore wind; or will the Ofgem signpost of 'don't build here' be clear enough to send that investment elsewhere?
"Ofgem are clearly creating a one-size fits all policy for the UK and are failing to understand the impact this will have on the north of Scotland. Ofgem seem intent on sending a signal to the energy market - don't build in the north of Scotland, you're too far away even if you have Europe's best renewable resources.
Mr Ormiston concluded by calling for a change in the principles that governs Ofgem decision making: "It seems odd to Scottish Renewables that there is no mechanism for recognizing the social, environmental and economic benefits that renewable electricity can bring to the Highlands of Scotland when regulating the industry. A change in the Ofgem remit would be a good start to addressing issues like these but may prove to be too late for some."
Ofgem published its 'minded to' position in June 2007 and its consultation closes on 31 July, 2007. This week Scottish Renewables published a briefing on zonal transmission losses and the cumulative effect of a range of new charges on northern Scottish generators.
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