REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive
and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 261

Revolt news 12/10/2008 Print (pdf) Version

1. National Grid to the rescue? The Seamer windfarm proposal on the northern side of the North York Moors National Park, straddling a National Grid 400kV line (news254 etc; www.shwag.co.uk). Stockton BC and Hambleton DC are to hold their planning meetings respectively on 24th October and 13th November. NG has entered a document setting out its new (24th September) policy of maintaining a separation of at least 5 rotor diameters between wind turbines and grid lines, for reasons of turbulent mechanical interference with the conductors and fittings. That will be roughly a 450 metre separation, which could seriously restrict the windfarm proposal, probably ruling out four of the five proposed turbines.

2. Sense About Science is an independent charitable trust. It says so on its web site. But it sometimes seems bent on presenting the establishment view as certain and infallible. The website should be helping to give authentic and balanced views about scientific issues of the day. With so much sensationalised non-science about, it should be a useful public service. However, when it becomes entirely one-sided, presenting a false certainty and over-simplifying complex issues, it does a public disservice. So it is with its pronouncement Making Sense on Radiation: http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/pdf/makingsenseofradiation.pdf

3. The game is given away when we see Sense About Science use the old spin-phrase “there is no evidence” repeatedly to suppress alternative interpretations; often there is a large volume of evidence which remains uncertain but may well give rational grounds for suspicion. It would be better to say “the balance of evidence suggests … while there remains uncertainty in … ”. Tolerance of legitimate dissent, and respect for uncertainty, are hallmarks of good science. See also Powerwatch comments

4. One part of the Sense About Science statement has attracted particular criticism. It gives a simple analogy to illustrate the relatively feeble energy of non-ionising radiation: ping-pong balls at a coconut shy. That’s not bad, for the missiles. But the coconut is likened to human cells, representing any and all human cells. Not everyone has brain cells like coconuts, even in terms of the analogy. Given bystander effects and the rich capabilities of bio-detection, a wide range of analogies should be envisaged for cells, including piano strings and hornets’ nests! But analogies can be pressed too far. It’s right to illustrate the relatively feeble energy of non-ionising radiation, but wrong to underestimate cells and bio-molecular processes.

5. The EMF advisory group SAGE is to reconvene on 14 October. It has to decide process details and its forward agenda, but is shaping up to retain its agreed Aim and to move on to power distribution systems. It is also likely to create a science discussion group and to review costs of burying powerlines.

6. Revolt’s AGM is to be held on 16 October. There are no new policy proposals or constitutional changes, so it is likely to be just the formalities. Members wishing to attend should contact me or the Secretary Robert Adamson for details.

© REVOLT

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