REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 252

Revolt news 24/02/2008

1. Congratulations to the Irish government on setting up a study into undergrounding high voltage power lines, in response to the intense public interest in Eirgrid's 400kV line proposals. They are calling for tenders for consultants to undertake the study as well as inviting interested parties to make submissions by 7th March (an extremely short time scale). It may be difficult to get a truly independent tender. It would be interesting to commission more than one consultant - one from a transmission company perspective and one from an underground cable company perspective. See APPENDIX A and 

2. The Irish study on undergrounding would be of great benefit to the Beauly-Denny decision makers, though it is too late for the inquiry. Likewise, it could inform the UK government in relation to the SAGE First Interim Assessment on precautionary measures for EMFs, and should be studied by SAGE if it should ever be revived.

3. Still on Ireland, the group Meath Pylon Pressure has changed its title to North East Pylon Pressure (NEPP) to reflect its wider constitution. It has certainly created a stir. The latest news is of a High Court victory over provision of information (APPENDIX B). 

4. Caroline Paterson and Stirling Before Pylons lodged Scotland's longest-running Parliamentary Petition in January 2005, namely Public Petition PE812. In the latest development, the Public Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament agreed 19th February to urge the Scottish Government to respond on powerlines and health by 9th May, arguing in favour of precaution. (APPENDIX C)

5. UK Health minister Dawn Primarolo has provided a Parliamentary Written Answer 22-02-08 to questions from Tim Loughton (news250.4). The minister says "Since November, officials in the key Government Departments have been in contact with agencies, industry and trade associations to seek initial views on the practicalities of implementing the SAGE recommendations in the light of HPA advice. After exchanges of correspondence, some exploratory meetings have taken place. When these initial soundings have been completed, a work plan will be drawn up for detailed consideration and discussion will be held with officials in the devolved Administrations".

6. Steve Nuttall, of French group Larchamp Hors Tension, reports a new survey of the impact of powerlines on people. Faced with the prospect of a new 400kV power line driven through their communities, concerned people in Normandy, Brittany and Pays de Loire have grouped together to sponsor a major research project into the effects of high voltage (HV) lines on the people who live and work near them. (APPENDIX D)

7. The case (news251.3) of a 132kV line near Wolverhampton apparently in default of safety clearances has been clarified. In still air in winter, a conductor is just 0.5 metres horizontally and 2.0 metres vertically from the top course of bricks on a chimney (even disregarding a pot sticking up another 0.2 metres). The safety clearance in ENA guidelines is 3.6 metres yet this conductor has only 2.1 metres clearance, and much less when swing and summer sag are allowed for. As with the Dermot Finnigan case, there is no wayleave, though there clearly should be one. I am asking BERR to investigate.

8. Trevor Sleep reports from Tintagel that he hopes to negotiate a satisfactory outcome with Western Power over a proposed substation. The company has a small (about 3 metres square) walled compound which has been dormant for 35 years and which is next to the wall of Trevor's house. A small substation (350 kVA, 11kV input) with underground connections is proposed. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but up against the wall next to a child's bedroom it warrants some concern at least to minimise the local EMFs. Trevor is hopeful a better situated site can be found.




APPENDIX A Irish government study into undergrounding.

Public can voice their concerns in advance of transmission lines study Dublin, 12th February 2008 Eamon Ryan, T.D., Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources announced today that his Department has now issued a request for tenders to undertake a study of comparative merits of overhead electricity transmission lines versus underground cables.

The purpose of this study is to provide the best available independent professional advice on the relative merits of constructing and operating overhead transmission lines compared to underground cables. The study will focus on technical characteristics, reliability, operation and maintenance factors, environmental impact, possible health issues and cost of both types of electricity infrastructure.

The independent study has been commissioned in response to publicly expressed concerns in respect of current transmission line projects being developed by EirGrid, the independent transmission systems operator. The aim of this initiative is to provide clarity on issues in relation to overhead versus underground transmission lines, thereby informing policy decisions on all current and future transmission line projects.

As part of the proposed task, the consultants employed to undertake the study will be asked by the Minister to review submissions, which may be made to the Department on the subject matter of the study, and to take account of these submissions, as appropriate, in the final report. Advertisements are being placed in national newspapers tomorrow, inviting interested parties to make submissions to the Department by 7th March 2008. Submissions can be made to the following address:

Study on Transmission Line Infrastructure,

Energy Division,

Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources,

29 - 31 Adelaide Road,

Dublin 2.



It is expected that the study will be completed in April.

STUDY ON THE COMPARATIVE MERITS OF OVERHEAD ELECTRICITY TRANSMISSION LINES VERSUS UNDERGROUND CABLES The purpose of the independent study is to provide the best available professional advice to the Minister on the relative merits of constructing and operating overhead transmission lines compared to underground cables, having regard to technical characteristics, reliability, operation and maintenance factors, environmental impact, possible health issues and cost. The task is to provide professional advice covering:

  • · review of electrical power transmission technologies currently in use for transmission of electricity at voltages of 110kV and above
  • · the factual position regarding current practice for constructing transmission lines worldwide, in terms of when such lines are constructed as underground cables and why
  • · the relative technical performance of overhead lines and underground cables, in terms of losses, reliability/availability/security of supply, impact on delivered power quality and electromagnetic field generation
  • · the comparative environmental impact of both options in terms of land use, geology and soils, water resources, ground restoration, ecology and nature conservation, landscape and visual impact, cultural heritage, traffic and noise, air quality and recreation, electromagnetic fields, communities and tourism
  • · implications for national policies on energy, environment and enterprise (including employment) of implementing underground cables rather than overhead lines
  • · relative capital costs, total life cycle costs (to include decommissioning costs), annualised operation and maintenance costs and impact on unit electricity prices of both options:

generally internationally

in defined topographies and network configurations typical of those found in Ireland (to be specified at project inception)

  • · construction times for both options with consequential impacts on security of supply.

For further information please contact:

Press Office:

Tel. 01 6782441

Fax. 01 - 6782739 





APPENDIX B NEPP News from Ireland


NEPP win High Court Action against Eirgrid A member of NEPP, Mr Thomas Madden of Kilmessan, county Meath, had requested EirGrid to give him a copy of the report and information used by them to select their chosen options for the overground power lines, but Eirgrid had refused to give him the information.

In the High Court in Dublin, on Monday, Mr Justice Peart restrained Eirgrid from taking any decision in relation to the preferred route or from taking any further step in relation to the project until they provide all the relevant reports and information to Mr Madden.

The Judge granted Eirgrid liberty to apply for any or all of his Orders to be set aside and entered the case for mention again on 13th February.





APPENDIX C News of Public Petition PE812 to the Scottish Government


A petition was lodged in 2005 by Caroline Paterson, on behalf of 'Stirling Before Pylons' to the Scottish Parliament. It asks Parliament to urge the Scottish Executive to acknowledge the potential health hazards associated with long-term exposure to electromagnetic fields from high voltage transmission lines and to introduce as a matter of urgency effective planning regulations to protect public health.

The petition has gone through several stages and processes over the last three years.

On 19 February 2008 the Public Petitions Committee agreed to write to the Scottish Government to clarify how the principle of precautionary approach is being adopted by local planning authorities when considering application for new developments close to overhead power lines, what analysis it has made of the broad conclusions being formed through available national and international scientific research, whether its guidance, for example to local authorities, on this reflects the best available research analysis and whether it will bring forward statutory measures to address this matter.

The Scottish Government is asked to reply by 9th May.

The BBC report linked below includes interesting quotes. Committee member Nigel Don said the Scottish Government had to look beyond the existing evidence on the issue. He said: "Research over a period of time builds up information from which eventually even the most blind can deduce what is totally obvious.

For more see 







Press Release

22 January 2008

French protesters lead high-voltage research


Faced with the prospect of a new high tension power line driven through their communities, concerned people in Normandy, Brittany and Pays de Loire have grouped together to sponsor a major research project into the effects of high voltage (HV) lines on the people who live and work near them.


The proposed 150Km 400KV power line would connect electricity from France's 59th nuclear generator to the national network.


Communal associations in the departments (counties) of Manche, Ille et Villaine and Mayenne created to oppose the project, are jointly conducting a survey of 3000 homes and an estimated 10,000 people. Many communal councils are supporting the research.


The research will cover people living within 300 metres of existing high voltage lines as well as a reference population in the proposed path of the new project. It will ask about day to day experiences of living, working and farming in areas affected by electromagnetic fields as well as questions about people's health and well being.


The survey design and data analysis will be supervised by the Criirem - the Independent Centre for Research and Information on non-ionising Electro Magnetic Radiation, and the findings are expected to be available by mid 2008.


"There's currently no data on the experience of French people living and working close to high voltage (HV) transmission systems," said Jean Charles Herriau, co-ordinator of the research. "This is the sort of research the industry and government should be undertaking. In their absence, we are determined to fill the gap. It will help us clarify the community issues around HV power transmission. If the results show serious problems we shall be well armed to challenge the present complacency of the industry and the state.


Notes for editors


The proposed Cotentin - Maine HV transmission line was first proposed in 2005 to export power from the 1600MW EPR (European Pressurised Water Reactor) being built at Flammanville near Cherbourg. In November 2007 a delegation of maires of communes affected in the Department of Mayenne led by local deputé Yannick Favennec won a 6 month moratorium on the project from Nathalie KOSCIUSKO-MORIZET Minister of State, responsible for Ecology. Within days the maires were summoned to the office of the prefect of Mayenne and told the project was a national priority and would proceed without delay.


The survey is being carried out by face-to-face interview between 20 January and 20 February in 152 communes.


Steve Nuttall

President, Larchamp Hors Tension

Member Comité de Pilotage Enquete "Vivre avec une ligne THT"






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