REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 251

Revolt news 15/02/2008

SPECIAL NEWS:

 

Tom Haigh, leading campaigner against the Yorkshire 400 kV line, technical expert par excellence, and Revolt committee member for many years, died at the James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, on Saturday 9th February, aged 82. He had been recovering well in hospital after breaking his hip in a fall on 21st January, although his health had declined in recent years. The cause of death was recorded as heart disease.

 

An indomitable Yorkshireman, as fiercely independent as they come, Tom was able to tale on National Grid's experts with the benefit of his expertise from his time as partner and chief executive of the multinational power engineers Haigh and Ringrose.

 

He was Revolt's lead witness on "need" for the proposed line, and other technical aspects, at the 1992 public inquiries, and commanded deep respect. Largely thanks to Tom, the Inquiry Inspector Mr Trevor Graham concluded "Revolt has my admiration for the efforts they have put in and the degree of expertise they have shown in bringing their various submissions together".

 

At the time of the 1995 public inquiries, Powergen, Eastern Electricity and others joined the objectors. Tom was at the heart of Revolt's conferring with these partners on strategy and analysis. In May 1995 we visited Powergen's technical centre at Radcliffe, Nottingham, to use their comprehensive power-flow analysis software. That confirmed Tom's claims and showed other shortcomings of NG's position, for example restricted switching arrangements at the Norton substation. This reinforced Tom's earlier recommendations for minor works as a simpler alternative, both to remove the existing 275kV Lackenby-Norton line and to avoid the new line.

Tom showed that NG had mis-applied the key security conditions PM-SP-1 and PLM-SP-2 arising from Condition 12 of its transmission licence. He wrote to the regulator OFFER on 18th June 1995 setting out the breaches of the transmission licence. Tom and I met OFFER's technical and legal experts at their head office in Birmingham. Eventually OFFER rejected Tom's complaint, and in June 1996 we initiated a judicial review, which received prima facie approval to proceed and papers were exchanged. Revolt withdrew the judicial review in April 1997 on counsel's advice in view of the financial risk.

 

It should be said that Tom was as hearty in his scepticism of EMF effects as he was in contesting NG's proposed line. With equal vigour, and chuckling good humour, he maintained that the very presence of the line would damage his health psychologically. That is a serious point, of course, in line with the EU and WHO definitions of health.

 

Tom's funeral will be at 12.30 on Monday 18th February at Stokesley Parish Church. While he will be sadly missed, Revolt will remember him with admiration and gratitude, seeing his fulsome life and character as something special to celebrate.

 

The rest of the news follows.

 

1. An important windfarm decision 7-2-08 recognises property devaluation due to visual impact. The Planning Inspectorate dismissed an Appeal by the RES Developments against Ceredigion County Council's rejection of the application for the Rhos Garn 10-turbine windfarm. In Wales the planning context is set by policy TAN8 with Strategic Search Areas (SSA) for potential windfarm sites, although it does not preclude developments outside an SSA. The Inspector noted the main significant effect of visual intrusion on nearby residents (more than 800 metres away) and that one "may well have difficulty selling his property". Even attaching "considerable weight" to national wind policy and targets for Wales, and their unlikelihood of being met, the Inspector ruled on balance against the development. Hopefully this will encourage other councils to take due account of visual impact and property devaluation at distances over 800 metres from turbines.

 

2. BERR has promptly and helpfully replied (news250.10) regarding the Dermot Finnigan case and safety clearances. Two separate avenues are being pursued. One is the question of unlawfulness of NG's moving the pylon (news250.9); BERR is investigating that as put to them by Dermot Finnigan's representative. The other is the question of safety clearances (news250.8 and the detailed plan now posted with news250 on www.revolt.co.uk); that is before the court.

 

3. The issue of safety clearances is of generic concern (news250.7). For example, another case with a 132kV line has been brought to my attention. Concerned about the financial pressures put upon him to withdraw, Dermot Finnigan has written to Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks giving some details of the underlying regulations and guidance (APPENDIX A). We share the concerns, because it will be important for the court to resolve the generic issue.

 

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APPENDIX A Letter 10-2-08 from Dermot Finnigan to Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks

 

Dear Minister

 

Re. The Finnigan family and National Grid

 

I apologise for having to write to you again but this matter is becoming more urgent by the day. National Grid via my MP Paul Goggins has offered to drop the court case and their associated costs in return for me to accept that their electricity line does not pass over our property. Apart from this been unjust and immoral after they took me to court in the first place I have no choice but to agree. The alternative is to lose my house and home to National Grid. There are serious issues here for the Minister to address and to address as a matter of urgency, and they are as follows.

 

I received a letter from Mr Peter Vujanic (Engineering Inspector) on the 15th November 2005 after him carrying out an investigation as to whether the line complied with the requirements imposed by the Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations 2002 (ESQCR) and reported his findings to Dr Peter Fenwick who in turn confirmed to me the line was fully compliant with ESQCR. This was also confirmed by the Director General Joan Macnaughton in a letter dated 6th March 2006. National Grid also sent me the Energy Networks Association Technical Specification 43-8 Issue 3 2004 Overhead line Clearances which states, "This specification represents the current practice of Energy Networks Association Member Companies (ENAMC) in the UK, for clearances for overhead lines and includes the statutory ground clearances requirements of the Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations 2002 (ESQCR)." "This document has been prepared for use by members of the Energy Network Association to take into account of the conditions which apply to them"

 

The ENA Technical Specification 6.2 Clearances to Objects states " The clearance specified in Table 6.2 shall not be infringed at the specified maximum conductor temperature with the conductor ( including its suspension insulators if fitted) hanging vertically in still air or deflected at any angle up to 45degrees from the vertical towards the object unless otherwise specified. The clearances apply in any direction. This line was built to a 400Kva capacity and the clearance is 5.3m which is confirmed in the deed of grant from the GMPTE to National Grid for this line dated 26th July 2004 Schedule 3 (a).

 

For me to sign up to the agreement that the electric line does not pass over our property would mean for the clearance specified (5.3m) is infringed and ignored and that the imposed requirements of the ESQCR and the ENA Technical Specification do not apply to this line. This is a very serious breach of the ESQCR and the ENA Technical Specification. To be placed in such a position by any electricity company is wholly unreasonable and wrong with total disregard for the industries very high standards. NGT are prepared to ignore such standards set out in the ESQCR and the ENA Technical Specification for the sole purpose of disposing of the proceedings.

 

The matter of the 5.3m clearance is of paramount importance to the electricity industry and to my case which the Minister must not allow to be ignored. I have asked NGT to agree with a joint application to the courts for a ruling as to whether the 5.3m clearance is either a trespass or a nuisance, they have ignore my approach and instead have given me notice of enforcement action in relation to their costs followed by the offer to concede. This is a vile and abhorrent way to dispose of the civil court action they instigated. There is no doubt the 5.3m clearance is in my air space and NGT now know they have a very real problem and a very real prospect of losing the case, hence their current tactic.

 

For me to concede the Minister for Energy has to write to me and state clearly that the ESQCR and the ENA Technical Specification does not apply to this line and , plus there are no hazards associated with death shock or burns in my air space and there are no restrictions on agricultural, commercial, industrial or leisure activities in my air space appertaining to the electric line. The alternative is for NGT to force me to concede with the knowledge that the Minister for Energy and his department have allowed NGT to wholly ignore the ESQCR and the ENA Technical Specification in the pursuit of avoiding the issue before the civil courts of justice. I ask the Minister to consider funding the reminder of this court case which will set a legal precedent appertaining to the clearances to high voltage conductors being either trespass or nuisance in air space without consent. It has been established there is no civil case law to refer to. I ask the Minister to persuade NGT directors to defer any such enforcement action from NGT against me and my family and allow the case to continue with no threat of costs. NGT are worth billions and we are worthless with no legal representation and no ability to raise funds due to the location of the power line and pylon in relation to the house and our property been sterilised with a boundary dispute which denies any bank or loan company been able to register their charge at the land registry. None of this is our doing and we just want our lives back. The final alternative is for the Minister to persuade the directors of NGT to meet with me and to discuss a settlement for either trespass or nuisance. The court case is not the last resort, neither is the destruction of me and my family and our home.

 

It will be a very serious miscarriage of justice should I have to sign up to the proposal from NGT without the intervention of the Minister. This matter has to be dealt with within the next week so as to avoid NGT taking enforcement action. Minister, please remember none of this was of our doing and we have only applied the technical specification presented to us by your own engineering inspectorate, the ENA and NGT. I have attached a drawing showing the 5.3m clearance as it applies to . For your ease of reference is to the right of the green line and NGT are to the left.

 

Yours Sincerely

 

Dermot Finnigan

cc. Paul Goggins MP

 

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