REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 250

Revolt news 10/02/2008

1. A 2002 report by Richard Cowell, of UK CEED at Cardiff University, on The Scope for Undergrounding Overhead Electricity Lines, can be downloaded from the link below. It focuses on distribution rather than transmission, and seems to have rather high estimates of cost ratios derived from UK sources, compared with those from other EU sources. 


2. A more recent report (28-2-07) by Richard Cowell, Literature Review and Analysis of Electricity Distribution Overhead to Underground Conversion, for Florida Electric Utilities and with hurricanes in mind, can be downloaded from the link below. The report concludes that the conversion costs are far in excess of the quantifiable benefits, except in rare cases. However, it concedes "the benefits associated with improved aesthetics are not quantifiable", and health concerns are overlooked apart from accidents and direct contact, so the assessment omits the two leading concerns in the UK. This is a utilities' report, not a public interest report. 


3. It's worth highlighting a reference made in the UK CEED 2002 report, and picked up in Andrew Darke's letter to Ofgem (news249 Appendix B), to a statement made over 40 years ago by Lord Hinton, a former CEGB Chairman. In May 1962 he expressed the view that if the cost ratio between underground and overhead transmission could be reduced to 4:1, then he would advocate extensive undergrounding. With modern technology and lifetime costing, such ratios may now be achievable for some new high voltage lines from 110 to 400 kV.


4. The charity Children with Leukaemia, co-sponsor of the SAGE process, has helped to promote four Parliamentary Questions by Tim Loughton MP on 4-2-08. They are asking for details of consultation and action arising from the SAGE First Interim Assessment following the HPA response to government last year.


5. An important new paper by Garcia et al. (Int. J. Epidemiol. 2008 1-12) giving a meta-analysis of 12 international studies on Alzheimer's Disease (AD) in relation to occupational exposure to power-frequency EMFs. While the paper mentions possible study-size effects, the overall results are strong in showing a persistent association with an approximately doubled risk. In some ways this compares with the meta-analyses for childhood leukaemia (CL) and raises the question of an IARC 2B rating for EMFs in respect of AD in addition to that for CL. It also reinforces the evidence for a wider range of effects involving melatonin, and hence for the "CL+" case that the health impact for precautionary policy should embrace the wider set of associated diseases. That would tend to support the case for a 60 metre corridor between powerlines and homes, which SAGE had raised but could not agree.


6. Dermot Finnigan's case in Sale is coming to a head. He claims NG has now suddenly and at short notice demanded 10,000 costs for a hearing last year, in order to prevent him continuing to defend his case at court. He says NG took the case to court and declined his offer for a joint application with each paying his own costs. He says NG are prepared to drop the case if he agrees the line does not over sail his property and in return they will not pursue him for costs. Such corporate financial pressures do not seem compatible with proper justice, especially from a public licence holder like NG. Previous reports and background to this case appear at news245.2, 240.3 etc. with further references and a site visit report at news225 Appendix A. 



7. The Dermot Finnigan case itself looks strong, and could have implications for landowners adjacent to NG lines throughout the country. It could apply to any land (without a wayleave or easement) within about 10 metres of the conductors in still air. It needs proper resolution, so it is important that the court case proceeds.


8. It is now clear that the line in still air does not pass over Dermot's land. Allowing for swing in the wind, which could displace the conductors about 3 metres at this part of the line, the line would pass through about a square metre of land at the corner of Dermot's property, where the exact boundary position was contested. It seems to have been accepted now that a further 5.3 metres offset from the conductors has been imposed for safety restrictions, and further that the offset definitely extends over Dermot's land. It will be for the court to decide (a) the exact position of the boundary and (b) whether the imposition over Dermot's land is trespass or nuisance.


9. The NG line next to Dermot Finnigan's land was allegedly moved in breach of planning conditions. Movement of the line was permitted under a 1997 Transport and Works Order to make way for a local rail extension. A pair of semi-detached houses in open green belt was to have been demolished to make way for the new pylon position. It is alleged that National Grid unlawfully, and without due notice to government, and without informing or consulting Dermot Finnigan, varied from the plan so as to place the pylon closer to Dermot's land, so that the golf club could gain ownership of the houses. The result is that the houses are directly under the line; the line cuts so close to Dermot's land that it may unlawfully oversail it with swing in the wind; the safety clearance definitely extends over Dermot's land; and the pylon is newly positioned in an overbearing position on high ground with maximum visual impact on Dermot's home.


10. Given that BERR has not yet replied to my submission of 25 October 2007 (see news240.3) on the issue of safety clearances and the Dermot Finnigan case, I am renewing the call for intervention.







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