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Revolt Newsletter 112

31/01/2002


Revolt News 112  text version

1. The dry weather Condition mentioned in news111 applies all along the line. It is Planning Condition 11 for Picton-Shipton. For most of Lackenby-Picton it is Planning Condition 6, which reads: "Work in connection with the development shall be undertaken in dry weather conditions and when the soil is in a dry state." The stated reason for that Condition is to minimise the risk of compaction and long term damage to the soil structure. There is a definition of "soil in a dry state" - if you can pick it up and squeeze it between your fingers it is not in a dry state. NGC try to get round the Condition by laying aluminium trackway, though the condition doesn't say that lets them off it. Note the Condition covers all work in connection with the development. The guardian of the Condition is the local planning authority. If necessary people can write to councillors and the chief planning officer asking for the Condition to be applied.

2. A resident near Normanby, Ruth Smith, writes "My local area is awash with mud and filth from these contractors erecting the pylons. I believe it is Balfour Beatty. We have a local Countryside Walkway run by the council, and the paths where these contractors are working are nothing short of disgraceful. All the locals that normally walk there have given up. They have three sites on the go at the same time, so that we have no alternative walks. Some of the pylons are reached by a road that leads past a building now used by the Health Service and I know that people working there are sick of their cars and themselves getting covered in mud. What amazes me is that the Council promotes this countryside walkway especially to schools and children, and one of the paths will now be approx. 5 yards from a pylon!!"

3. A resident reports NGC contractors using the access off the Seamer- Hilton Road before completing it to the standards set by the planning authority (Stockton). NGC seem to be using the access with half of it barricaded off. Only half of it is used and this is not one of the larger accesses, which therefore may have been grossly over-specified.

4. Local ad spotted: leaflet delivery, part-time, to villages in North Yorks, 01325 488499 Grant Sterling Ltd. That is the PR firm acting for NGC. Any offers?

5. The Enron debacle continues to deepen. Big articles appeared in the Sunday Times 20.1.02 and in Monday's FT 21.1.02. A catalogue of dirty tricks, greed and deception is revealed. The top 5 accountancy firm Andersen is under threat of collapse too. What a dirty business!

6. And still deeper ... Enron Chairman Ken Lay resigns (one commentator said he needs to concentrate on staying out of jail) and Clifford Baxter, who resigned as Deputy Chairman last May while cashing 25 million pounds worth of shares before the collapse, has committed suicide (Ceefax106 25.1.02). For the second week running Accountancy Age (24.1.02) has Andersen-Enron as its lead with several pages on the saga. The core issue for the accountancy profession is the potential (in this case actual) conflict of interest in acting as auditors and consultants. Conservative and Libdem MPs are demanding an investigation into Labour's change of policies after getting Enron finance (Ceefax110 28.1.02). Appended below: Guardian article 30.1.02 on John Wakeham, Enron and the consent of TPL. BBC reports 31.1.02 John Wakeham resigns from the Press Complaints Commission as "a matter of honour" - credit to him for that at least. My letter 31.1.02 to The Times is also appended below.

7. Following my letter in The Times 22.1.02, a respondent sends details of very-small-scale wind turbines for local use. They generate 50Hz 230V power from 160W. The 1kW and 8kW sets may be suitable for more general use. They are needed in the south and south west of England which are net importing areas. I am enquiring if a version could be developed to go on top of urban buildings.

8. Correction! The 2001 Revolt Chairman's Report mentioned the benefits of abandoning the Picton - Shipton line and removing the two spurs, in Teesside and York, to which it would attach. That's fair, but the York spur ties in at Osbaldwick on the eastern edge of the city and does not go on to Thornton. Magnetic field measurements in York on Tuesday indicated that the Osbaldwick - Shipton spur was indeed dead (no current flowing) but Osbaldwick - Thornton was live (over 3 microTesla beneath it). So, the benefits of removing the spurs remain, but do not extend so far around York as suggested. The benefits in Teesside (e.g. west Yarm) would be dramatic.

9. Four members of Revolt met privately and informally with four NGC members, including two directors, on Monday 28.1.02, for a free and frank exchange of views. Nothing has changed, but we can be clearer as to where each other stands, and we can be sure our position is heard at board level.

APPENDIX 1. Guardian

To see this story with its related links on the Guardian Unlimited site, go to http://www.guardian.co.uk 

Enron fallout threatens Wakeham, David Hencke and Michael White, The Guardian 30.1.02

Lord Wakeham, the former Conservative energy secretary entrusted by Lady Thatcher to privatise the British electricity industry, gave the now collapsing US energy giant, Enron, its first 700m contract to build the UK's biggest private gas fired power station.

Four years later Lord Wakeham joined the board of Enron as non-executive director after resigning as leader of the House of Lords. He is now expected to have to give evidence to Congressional investigators following Enron's collapse.

Details of Lord Wakeham's support for Enron and his subsequent appointment to their board will add to pressure on the peer. Calls are emerging for him to step aside as chairman of the press complaints commission.

As the row over Enron's financial sponsorship of both Labour and Tory parties rumbled through Westminster there was also growing concern about the government's intimate ties with Enron's auditors, Arthur Andersen, now said by angry unions to be involved in public/private partnership projects worth 10bn.

But Lord Wakeham remains the most exposed UK politician so far. US questioning will put him in the spotlight over the firm's affairs since he sat on Enron's audit and compliance committee. Its role was to see that proper procedures were in place, including legal advice and best audit practice.

The committee relied on expert advice - but members could be held to account for not spotting exactly what was going on when fellow directors sold millions of dollars of shares before it finally collapsed - ruining employees' pensions along with their jobs.

He may be able to claim that as a non-executive director he did not know what was going on. A City accountant said last night: "John Wakeham was probably just a name on the letterhead, turning up every few months for lunch and reading the reports in the taxi."

In 1990, Lord Wakeham helped Enron develop the new Teesside power station - which supplies 3% of UK needs - by giving financial concessions to four then state-owned electricity boards which went into partnership with Enron to build the station months before they were floated on the stock market.

The station - supplied by a 1.3bn pipeline from Amoco's North Sea gas field - provided the electricity for ICI's Teesside complex, cutting its bills by 30% and generated a huge surplus which benefited four newly privatised firms.

Enron was the first US firm to benefit from electricity privatisation. The other two initial gas fired power station approvals went to British Nuclear Fuels and Powergen.

Lord Wakeham could also face questioning over whether he was asked to do any lobbying for Enron when it faced a moratorium from Labour on gas fired stations, preventing it from getting new business.

At the time of Lord Wakeham's appointment Enron was delighted that he had agreed to join the company.

Kenneth Lay, the now embattled chairman and chief executive of Enron, said of Lord Wakeham's appointment at the time: "We are quite pleased to welcome to our board of directors an individual whose accomplishments are highly regarded worldwide. [John Wakeham's] unique background of business and government strengthens our board's ability to assess global opportunities for Enron."

Andersen's close links with Labour, pre-dating the 1997 election, helped end a 15-year exclusion from Whitehall contracts. Last night Downing Street insisted the review which ended the ban had been initiated by John Major's government. The Tories denied it, saying Labour had "caved in after six months" in office.

Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited

APPENDIX 2 Letter submitted 31.1.02 to The Times.

The Editor, The Times Enron UK

Enron's Teesside Power Station was consented in 1989 by Energy Minister John Wakeham, who became an Enron director, without informing local authorities of the severe transmission implications.

With the power station consent a fait accompli, consent for 50 miles of giant pylons was sought in 1991. After extensive opposition and several public inquiries, and Enron's active lobbying for the powerline, private meeting with Energy Minister John Battle and donations to the Labour Party, consent for the power lines was given by Margaret Beckett in March 1998. Enron then sponsored the celebrations at Labour's 1998 conference.

North Yorkshire people have borne the environmental impact and uncompensated financial losses arising from both political parties cosying up to Enron.

Yours, Mike O'Carroll Chairman of REVOLT www.revolt.co.uk

Mike O'Carroll

 

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