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Revolt Newsletter 117

01/04/2002

Text version


Revolt News 117   Text version

1. Work is proceeding on building road accesses near Borrowby and Knayton, particularly A56, A57 and A59 and one at Brawith. Work is also proceeding on pylon foundations off Forest Lane, Alne, near the A19, and elsewhere on the southern section of the line. Highways work is also proceeding at Picton.

2. Government Chief Scientist David King commented 8.3.02 on the government's Energy Review. He said wind power would not itself enable the greenhouse gas targets to be achieved, and that new nuclear power stations would have to be built. This fits a pattern of government kite flying. Revolt doesn't have a position on nuclear power, but sees the folly of remote wind farms and the excessive pylon lines they would need throughout the country.

3. You can now see a new pylon just south of the A19 Thirsk bypass.

4. Following the incident where NG entered private land over a locked gate at Station Farm, Alne, on 13 February, NG has written to the landowners giving an ultimatum of 28 March for response. It is fair enough to put a date on a response, but the letter also demands the most draconian undertakings, which presume and impose NG's view of its own powers. It is unreasonable of NG to demand not to be obstructed even when their legal powers may be disputed.
The NG letter says that if they do not get the undertakings they demand they will go to court for an injunction, and they could charge the landowner with all costs including huge costs of alleged delay to the project. The land agents Stephensons have replied firmly, calling on NG to respond to the earlier requests for resolving matters of local arrangements, compensation and health risk indemnity, and not giving the draconian undertakings sought by NG. Meanwhile Revolt, more reasonably, has written to NG to explore a joint approach to court to resolve the dispute on whether NG has the power to take access unilaterally without the landowner's agreement. The dispute is still under discussion with officials at DTI and the Counsel's Opinion sought jointly by Revolt and NFU is still awaited.

5. Hans Karow on British Columbia, Canada, is challenging the proposed power line there on human rights law. He has written to the Attorney General claiming that the intrusion of EMFs is a physical attack and an assault, that it requires an Informed Consent Agreement under Canadian law and that residents are having to endure an "unavoidable trespass" since they can't avoid the EMFs.

6. We are indebted to Anne McIntosh MP for arranging the successful meeting with the Energy Minister Brian Wilson on 14.3.02. It did seem he was genuinely interested and willing to listen. Those present included Cllr Bill Barton and his wife and Iris Wilkinson, all affected landowners, Prof. Denis Henshaw and myself, and Maureen Asbury from the Trentham campaign. The Minister is to write to NG about their conduct. Shortcomings of the Lands Tribunal were acknowledged; it is under review. The access dispute will be considered further with DTI officials. A formal consultation period will be announced for the Energy Review before the white paper later this year. Prof Henshaw and I are to continue discussions with DTI and DH officials on the health issues.

7. Still no result on the Rountons Wayleave Hearings. DTI say it is expected in the next few weeks.

8. An interesting police report on the FMD experience can be seen at http://www.warmwell.com/ . The report "summarises the collective thoughts of operational police commanders involved in the foot and mouth crisis". The Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE of Morse & Lewis fame) repealed the police power of arrest for obstruction under certain circumstances, with the effect that it is down to DEFRA officials to make such arrests under the Animal Health Act. The officials were not keen or trained for that task and the police were left in the middle to try to mediate and preserve the peace impartially. There are similarities with the civil disputes with National Grid.

9. Fuel cells are working in Woking. An article in Professional Engineering 13.3.02 pages 29-30 show how Allan Jones, energy services manager with Woking Borough Council, is leading the way with the right sort of energy developments in the right place - the south of England. The stationary 200 kWe fuel cell system provides electricity and heating for a leisure centre and pool, park lighting and heat & power to nearby residents. The hydrogen economy has already started. A key point is breaking away from the National Grid - Jones says "It's this grid mentality. We're trying to force CHP and renewables into a system that was designed for huge monolithic power stations. It's nonsense and it's about time people woke up to it."

10. Accountancy Age issues in March continue to be dominated by the Enron - Andersen affair. Andersen's London office has been indicted over its role in shredding documents. The UK and European Andersen businesses have now separated themselves from their US parent and have merged with KPMG, thus reducing the Big 5 to the Big 4 accounting firms.

11. Scotland's last deep coal mine, Longannet in Fife, is likely to close after being flooded by 17 million gallons of water (Ceefax 29.3.02). It will be placed in liquidation (!) with 500 jobs under threat. Energy Minister Brian Wilson said he could see "no grounds for optimism". This may have a knock-on effect on Scottish power generation and potential export of "dirty" power to England.

12. UK Carbon dioxide emissions increased last year. Energy Minister Brian Wilson said it was due to greater use of coal in power stations after gas prices rose.

13. The English magazine Electromagnetic Hazard & Therapy vol.12, Nos 3-4, 2002 came out last month, see http://www.em-hazard-therapy.com/ . It carries Powerwatch News. The lead article and exclusive detail are on the TETRA affair - the communication system being foisted on the police by the Home Office. An independent report (the Trower Report) concluded health risks couldn't be ruled out. Looks like it's down to multi- billion pound contracts set up by the Home Office precipitately with Motorola. Ironically a safer European system, TETRAPOL, which is freely available and was launched back in 1987, is used by Switzerland, France and Germany, and others, and could have been used in the UK. Alasdair Philips shows that NRPB's interpretation of results is wrong. Alasdair examines the signals in detail, showing a signal carrier of 400 MHz has a series of 3 bursts of AM repeating every 56.7 milliseconds (i.e. at 17.65 Hz, a frequency in the region of certain brain wave activity). So there are potentially dangerous pulsed effects, contrary to the Home Office's claim of a continuous wave. For more see http://www.powerwatch.org.uk/ .

14. A judge in Queensland, Australia, has ruled to restrict an electricity company from creating public exposures to fields above 0.4 uT (microTesla), the level associated with childhood leukaemia, as a precautionary step. In the UK the effective limit is 1,600 uT, more than a thousand times higher. Fields near power lines in England can be up to 40 uT but are commonly 1 to 10 uT. The case in Queensalnd was an appeal by Energex Ltd against Logan City Council's refusal of permission for a substation. The parties agreed conditions which would, without too much trouble, avoid public exposures above 0.4 uT, so they have resolved the local problem. For example some connections were to be underground and some equipment repositioned away from the site boundary. What is important is that the judge opted for precaution on the basis of the Doll Report and the Company's evidence (slanted to dismiss the concerns). He responded to the uncertain possibility of a health hazard which the Company's expert witnesses couldn't deny. The judge said "The supply of electricity must not only be reliable, it must be as safe as it reasonably can be".

15. The DEFRA magazine Energy & Environmental Management, March/April 2002, features the PIU Energy Review and a Focus on Wind Energy. Selected notes:

(a) Energy Minister Brian Wilson says that the Renewables Obligation, coming into effect 1.4.02, will make 2002 a "year of renewables". Electricity companies must purchase a proportion (rising to 10% by 2010) of their electricity from renewable sources. At the same time the old Fossil Fuel Levy is reduced to zero. There is also the Climate Change Levy (CCL) coming into effect on 1.4.02. That is a tax on businesses and public sector organisations in their energy bills, including electricity at 0.43 pence/unit (almost 10%), but there are exemptions which include renewable energy.

(b) The PIU Energy Review is said to show up press reports of divisions between pro-nuclear Energy Minister Brian Wilson and Environment Minister Michael Meacher. The report argues for all energy sectors to be back under one department. Meanwhile a Sustainable Energy Unit should co-ordinate cross-departmental policy.

(c) The Ofgem proposed corporate strategy and plan 2002-2005 is available at www.ofgem.gov.uk. Its priority is to ensure that there are no barriers to distributed generation (e.g. micro CHP, solar and small- scale wind), as we have been arguing for this last decade.

(d) Environment Minister Michael Meacher has announced a 50 million pound bidding round for Community Energy schemes using CHP. Again, it will reduce the need for bulk transmission.

(e) Energy Minister Brian Wilson opened the UK's first and the world's largest (36MW) straw-fired power station in January, based in Sutton near Ely. Ooh ar! That's where Powerwatch director Alasdair Philips lives, so we wonder if he's into straw. It's renewable of course, and there are grants for farmers. DTI will boost biomass power with almost 85 million pounds over three years.

16. BBC TV Look North surprised me the other day with a piece showing people in Marton, Teesside, complaining about our protests holding up removal of their 275 kV line. I have contacted them to set the record straight, it is the new Lackenby - Picton line which allows removal of the 275 kV line from Teesside, and we don't oppose that. Indeed, Revolt welcomes the removal of the 275kV line as soon as possible. We remember calling on National Grid to switch the power off that line, which goes close to many houses, since they could re-route the power entirely on the Saltholme lines north of the Tees, but NG wouldn't acknowledge the health risk. Even better news for Teesside, if our campaign succeeded in getting the Picton - Shipton line abandoned, then the bigger line through Yarm, the 400 kV line from Norton to Picton, could also be removed. We have always had good support from Teessiders, those living in Middlesbrough pointing out they like to enjoy the countryside and don't want it ruined. Now more than ever they should join us
(a) to hasten the removal of the 275 kV Marton line and meanwhile get its power switched off, and
(b) to get rid of the 400 kV line through Yarm.

Mike O'Carroll