REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 239

Revolt news 19/10/2007

CORRECTION: In news235.2 the sentence "Roger Moller, himself electro- sensitive, reports to us on the charity Electrosensitivity-UK for ES sufferers" was not meant to imply that Roger Moller reports to Revolt in any formal sense. It was simply that he brought us news on that occasion about the charity and its web link. We are sorry for the unintended impression which the sentence could clearly give.

1. The full judgement on legal challenge to showing Al Gore's global warming film in UK schools (news236.6, 239.3) has been more prominently reported. While government will focus on the fact that the film was permitted with advice, and, they claim, its general message endorsed, the judgement confirms serious errors. In my view over-zealous reporting to the point of serious scientific error tends to be counter-productive, as government was supposed to have learned from the BSE-CJD affair. There is a genuine message and risk, warranting proportionate precaution, but it's much less cut-and-dried than the propagandists would have us believe.

2. From the BBC on-line report of the final judgement on the Gore film: Mr Justice Burton told London's High Court that distributing the film without the guidance to counter its "one-sided" views would breach education laws. "I conclude that the claimant substantially won this case by virtue of my finding that, but for the new guidance note, the film would have been distributed in breach of sections 406 and 407 of the 1996 Education Act", he said.

3. Ironically, we learn 12th October of Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize. Here is an extract from When Science Meets Politics on Global Warming, Washington Times, August 1998, by Roy W. Spencer, Senior Scientist for Climate Studies, NASA/MSFC/GHCC (courtesy of Country Guardian): "Even though I am a global warming skeptic, if global warming is proven to be a dire threat, I hope that I am the one who proves it. But in today's politically correct climate, I can guarantee you that no one will ever receive a Nobel Prize for proving that it was not a threat."

4. Propaganda and counter-propaganda abound on the internet on the Gore saga, as we should expect. My conversational comments are at APPENDIX A.

5. Landowners in Wales are complaining bitterly about National Grid. It's not the pylons this time but the gas pipeline (see also news215 and 223). One correspondent writes "My neighbour had rocks the size of Rugby balls on his lawn after a blasting incident. Also our rivers are being polluted by NG. We are truly tired of NG". We hope we detect improvements in some areas of dealing with NG, but there seems still to be some way to go.

6. Snips from news@all-energy 99 are at APPENDIX B.

7. More on the Beauly-Denny inquiry, as it proceeds to the Perth local stage, is at APPENDIX C.

8. Burial of low-voltage power lines in selected parts of National Parks continues, partly funded by Ofgem but also requiring financial support from the distribution company. North York Moors National Park Planning Committee reports on 14 candidate sites for work within NEDL's 5.5 million fund. In August 2007 NEDL confirmed 3 sites to go forward in the first round and agreed the construction timetable. http://tinyurl.com/2lowu4 

9. In selecting projects for undergrounding in National Parks, NEDL has a set of criteria under the broad headings of Part A Line Characteristics and Setting, and Part B Level of Impact, with a scoring system. These criteria focus on landscape and visual impacts, unlike our wider criteria for priority undergrounding of high voltage lines (news235.10). http://tinyurl.com/2l33os 

10. The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution announced today 19-10-07 that its next major study will be on "Adapting the UK to Climate Change". In the jargon, "adapting" means preparing for what is going to happen, as distinct from trying to prevent it for example by carbon reduction. http://www.rcep.org.uk 

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APPENDIX A Conversational comments on the Gore saga propaganda.

Comments after thanks for the pointer to "green" web talk at http://tinyurl.com/8plta 

The counter-propaganda (counter-counter-propaganda?) is to be expected. There has been plenty of character assassination including unqualified implication from the Royal Society that all dissenters to the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis are funded by the oil industry and must be suppressed. There are plenty of counter-examples including me who are definitely not funded by any industry. Most prominent and well qualified dissenters are retired (and free to speak). Seen it all before, with BSE and many other issues.

For the avoidance of doubt I am not a member of the New Party (nor had I heard of it until I followed your links) nor of the Scientific Alliance. I have seen Scientific Alliance newsletters and occasionally sent in a mildly critical response, but I have to say the newsletters are generally scientifically sound and reasonably balanced.

Of course the courts are not the place to decide scientific argument. I guess the best place is the peer-reviewed literature, though not without its limitations, as we see in EMF. The best thing is to examine the scientific evidence directly. Part of the problem with AGW is the vast range of evidence. By and large the IPCC did a good job and, interestingly, established an approach to uncertainty rather different from (and better than?) that used by IARC for EMF. But politics gets involved, both small and large P. The Wegman report, which reviewed the controversy over the hockey-stick graph, has interesting comments about how networks of scientists can promote their own work and conceal their flaws. On examination, the hockey-stick case shows that promotion of AGW has prominently used scientifically flawed work.

All these flaws, and even dirty tricks, seem to be part of the human condition (if somewhat inflamed on this issue), and neither prove nor disprove AGW. Dissenters generally accept GW but doubt the extent of AGW. My view is that there is enough evidence to warrant proportionate precaution (which is also warranted on ethical grounds of minimising waste), but the green lobby exaggerates the case which remains quite uncertain especially regarding extent and timescale. It will be important to concentrate on "adaptation" to likely climate change, and not be distracted by ineffective responses to AGW. There are financial interests on both sides of course, so I don't think trading allegations of financial interest tells us much; we should always be wary of them, in EMF as in AGW.

I still would not want to be associated with the Gore approach. He is reported (roughly, from recollection) to defend exaggeration as necessary to stir public response. That may be valid, and I accept the need to stir (and educate) the public to respond on such issues. But I am uncomfortable with the idea of deliberately exaggerating, though I suspect I may be inadvertently guilty of exaggeration myself! I am especially uncomfortable with the idea of a major big-money campaign of spin, which to me seems both dishonest and ultimately counter- productive, as it destroys trust (again as we have seen before with BSE, Iraq and so on).

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APPENDIX B Snips from news@all-energy 99.

4.GRID, NETWORKS, TRANSMISSION ISSUES 4.1.Minister's sweet words on grid charges Malcolm Wicks met a delegation from HIE and the three Scottish island authorities who pressed home their concerns about the unfair cost of connecting to the electricity grid http://tinyurl.com/2o82xd 

4.3.New approach to connections? Ofgem outlined short-term measures to speed up the connection of generators to Britain's electricity network http://tinyurl.com/2ms9so 

4.4.Planning system 'in need of shake-up The debate over grid connection charges may continue, but Scotland will realise its full potential for RE production only when the government overhauls the planning system, according to the industry regulator http://tinyurl.com/ynw2xn 

4.5.Pylon inquiry to hear health data The Beauly-Denny inquiry has agreed to accept a submission detailing possible health risks of the plan http://tinyurl.com/ytyrj4 

6.WIND - INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Danish researchers say that to assess the overall environmental impact of wind power, the finite lifespan of turbines and the need to replace and recycle them must be taken into account http://tinyurl.com/ysv678 

11.FUEL CELLS AND HYDROGEN 11.1.Large hydrogen plant in Tees Valley A new 2bn crude oil processing facility planned for the Tees Valley in the North East incorporates what would be one of the largest hydrogen producing plants in Europe http://tinyurl.com/2hok7b 

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APPENDIX C More on Beauly-Denny inquiry.

Press & Journal, 16 October 2007

PYLONS PLANNING INQUIRY RESUMES

The much criticised and costly year-long public inquiry into plans for doubling the size of many electricity pylons between the Highlands and central Scotland resumes today in Perth.

The Scottish Government hearing will take evidence over the next 17 days focussing on future transmission lines just south of the Cairngorms National Park.

More than 18,000 people, a raft of environment organisations and every local council along the 137-mile route have objected to the proposals of Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission Ltd (SHETL), a subsidiary of Scottish and Southern Energy.

The applicants claim the upgrade is essential to carry an expected influx of energy from renewable energy sources, predominantly onshore wind farms.

Estimates have suggested the public inquiry into the 300million project will cost customers up to 10million.

MSPs from all parties have echoed many participants who have branded the process "biased" in Shetl's favour. Some politicians have urged Scottish Government ministers to intervene. The new SNP-led administration has refused.

Energy Minister Jim Mather has told critics it would be "inappropriate for ministers to seek to interfere in the independence of the inquiry process".

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