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Revolt News 124

19/09/2002

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Revolt News 124

1. Follow-up from Alasdair Philips to news123 on Alice Stewart is at Appendix 1 below.

2. BBC website piece from July on TETRA (see also news122.4 etc) is at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/low/english/uk/newsid_2135000/2135013.stm 

3. From Denis Henshaw on the International Symposium on Light, Endocrine Systems and Cancer: Facts and Research Perspectives, University of Cologne, May 2-3, 2002: "I think there is much useful background information here on melatonin research, especially in the summary abstracts from the meeting. These are available in the proceedings issue of the Neuroendocrinology Letters: http://www.nel.edu/Press/Light-Endocrine-Cancer.htm 

4. The Sunday Telegraph 28.7.02 carried two big articles on NG chief executive Roger Urwin's extra-marital affair, claiming it jeopardised the merger with the gas grid Lattice (Transco). Urwin admitted the affair and claimed it wasn't on company expenses. He was said to be considering his position. By Monday 29.7.02 the Daily Telegraph (money) reported "grid chief stays as tie-up goes ahead". However, news of the affair was sprung on the AGM, and although the meeting voted to reappoint Urwin as a director people hadn't time to digest the news, which was said to have been known to NG chairman James Ross but kept from non-executive directors. Matters of probity are especially important for non-executives to consider. Shades of Enron secrecy?

5. My response to the government's consultation on energy policy, which followed on from the PIU energy review (news115.8, 120.7), is at Appendix 3 below.

6. The Gills at Station Farm, Alne, report that they have pressed NG to meet proper biosecurity requirements with some success. Although NG resisted, the Gills made them install proper disinfecting pits, erect a double fence around the working area and sign in and disinfect each time they entered. The Gills report this worked for a while, and Balfour Beatty complied and had white boiler suits for their staff. But then NG wayleave officers failed to comply, and NG failed to deal with leaking mats potentially contaminating a watercourse. The Gills referred to Malcolm Perkins of the Environment Agency in Thirsk (01845 523805) for authority, and he confirmed the requirements NG should follow. After further NG failures, the Gills say they have withdrawn their undertakings and that is accepted by NG Head Office in Coventry. At the last report the gate remains locked and entry is refused.

7. Several reports have been received about unidentified (and very rough) people purporting to be NG security. The Gills reported rough caravan dwellers at sites near Alne. Iris Wilkinson was accosted by an unidentified person asking who she was and claiming to be security. Clearly this is unsatisfactory. Such people could be burglars or child molesters for all you know. I complained to the police and to Stewart Grant at NG who accepted there should be identification and will look into it. Landowners and other members of the public should report promptly to the police any suspicious unidentified characters near NG sites. There is a theft problem.

8. The Basslink project in Australia, by NG International, has been much in the news. A public forum denounced the project and particularly NGI for suppressing technical information about alternative technology from Transenergie which makes undergrounding cheaper and better than overhead. But don't get your hopes up! That is for DC cables, which it seems are to be put overhead by NGI to link up with the undersea cables (which are usually DC for technical reasons). I checked with the cable engineers and they confirm it wouldn't replace or compete with AC overhead such as we have here. After contacting us, the Australian protest coalition published a statement "REVOLT and Basslink Concerned Citizens Coalition are exploring the possibility of forming an international alliance against these unacceptable National Grid projects" and we confer to that end. The latest news is that Victoria Premier Steve Bracks has just approved the Basslink Project in the run up to his election, so is getting robust criticism from both ends of the political spectrum.

9. The Revolt AGM on next Friday 27.9.02 at 7.30 p.m. at Thirsk Town Hall is expected to be fairly low key, but will include a review of Revolt's objectives and constitution.

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APPENDIX 1 Note from Alasdair Philips on Alice Stewart.

I have now read the following book about a good friend of mine. It was published in 1999, but I only got around to getting it after her death a month ago. It is brilliant(!) and should be required reading of everybody concerned about radiation, society and health. It includes quite a lot about USA radiation cover-ups.

"The Woman who Knew Too Much" Alice Stewart and the secrets of radiation. by Gayle Green, University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0 472 08783 5 (pbk) 0 472 11107 8 (hdbk. alk paper) www.press.umich.edu or www.amazon.com or www.amazon.co.uk

Alice, a daughter of two clincal doctors, was one of the first women to study medicine at Cambridge University, and an early Consultant clinician in the 1940s before moving into epidemiology at the end of the second world war. She was still publishing world-view challenging papers into her 90's (she died at 95).

I can't recommend this book more highly. Both personally inspiring and also dispiriting with regard to official action re possible radiation risks. It puts the Doll clique into interesting perspective.

Very good wishes Alasdair

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APPENDIX 2 from BBC web site re. TETRA
Thursday, 18 July, 2002, 15:33 GMT 16:33 UK

Force calms police radio 'safety' fears

http://news.bbc.co.uk/low/english/uk/newsid_2135000/2135013.stm 

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APPENDIX 3 Response to government consultation on energy policy.

Response to DEFRA / DTI / DTLR consultation from Professor M J O'Carroll 12.9.02

1. Background

I am an applied mathematician and retired academic, with experience in energy industries and environmental issues. For the last ten years I have been chairman of REVOLT (Rural England Versus Overhead Line Transmission), a group campaigning for a more rational energy distribution policy and against the second North Yorkshire grid line. I have been a member of The Northern Energy and Environmental Management Group for some years.

I have read the PIU Energy Review, the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP) report "Energy - the Changing Climate" and other documents such as the IPPR report "Power for the People". My notes for a meeting with Energy Minister Brian Wilson in April this year are at Appendix 1 herewith. My letter to the Times published 22.1.02 in response to Lord Ezra's letter referring to the PIU review is at Appendix 2.

This response is necessarily brief and in overview without supporting detail. More detailed papers have been submitted to the DTI and Ministers over the years.

2. Policy objectives

The PIU report framework (page 32) and overarching statement of energy policy make good sense.

Competitive markets should be encouraged in so far as they bring the benefits of competition, for price, quality, responsiveness and innovation. However the markets are largely artificial and include regulated monopolies, so that market distortion can obstruct the benefits (see Appendix 1 below). Intervention, in the form of regulation, incentives and firmer cost-reflectivity, would be essential to secure the benefits of competition and to build in policy objectives.

The objectives of security and competitive pricing should not be equal. Security should be primary. A balance is to be found on price, so as not to handicap industry too harshly in international competition, while promoting good standards of efficiency and environmental protection. Fuel poverty should be addressed by relief rather than universal price. While transport fuel is highly taxed, electricity is cheap. Sometimes price should give way to environment and efficiency.

Perhaps an alternative wording might be: "the pursuit of secure and accessible means of meeting our energy needs, subject to the achievement of environmental sustainability".

3. Security of supply

The effects of volatility of gas prices have already been seen in the reversal of reduction of carbon emissions this year. The transformation from a carbon to a hydrogen energy economy will be only one factor in political and economic volatility over the coming decades. There are two key policy responses: fuel diversity and energy storage. Payment for energy storage, funded by tax on energy consumption, is one option. The hydrogen economy and energy storage will develop together.

4. Climate change

Climate change is not the only environmental consideration. The RCEP report makes good sense but the effect of human activity in climate change is uncertain, the most striking evidence being increased carbon dioxide. A precautionary policy is justified, but should be measured rather than "at all costs". Covering the country with windfarms and connecting power lines, thereby degrading heritage and quality of life, for a very limited and unreliable energy source is not justified.

A carbon tax and specific taxes on electricity (to which the Climate Change Levy would add) would incentivise efficiency, and could be complemented by freeing insulation and energy-saving devices from VAT, together with exceptional relief to address fuel poverty. Some steps could be taken unilaterally in the UK alongside the promotion of EU and international agreements.

The energy tax (full VAT on fuel) failed largely due to inadequate relief for poor pensioners.

5. Efficiency and CHP

Strenuous targets such as 20% domestic improvement repeated in successive decades would best be served by firm financial incentives, both through energy price and through relief on insulation and efficiency devices.

Support for pilot micro-CHP should continue and be enhanced. See Appendix 2 below. The CHP Association's reports of problems arising from NETA should be addressed vigorously.

There needs to be a shift from large, remote power stations and increasing transmission structure, towards small, distributed CHP generation. The second Yorkshire line will promote the waste, in generation and transmission losses from excess remote generation, of half a billion pounds per year at wholesale prices. See reference [6] of Appendix 1 below.

6. Renewables

The PIU target is unrealistic. The popular assumption that wind will provide the bulk of the solution is unreasonable, in view of the unreliability of that source and the implications for grid adequacy and stability. Wind would be better served making a storable form of energy, such as hydrogen by electrolysis of water. Major renewables projects other than wind, e.g. Severn barrage, would probably have a long lead time but could provide significant reliable electricity. The government's frenetic pursuit of wind energy is misplaced.

Solar heating and natural ventilation in architecture have significant potential and could reduce electricity consumption. Targets could take account of such improvements, on the demand side.

7. Transmission

See point 5 above regarding scale and distribution of generation. The 1996 Transmission Price Control Review (TPCR) acknowledged the need for greater cost-reflectivity, yet failed to reflect losses and only fractionally reflected locational costs. Full costs of losses and transmission, including deep reinforcement costs, should be charged to generators to reflect locational effects. My more detailed submissions to the TPCR were ignored. The present situation amounts to a transmission subsidy to promote more surplus generation in the far north, destined to serve the far south uneconomically in a distorted market.

Stringent grid security conditions should apply to a basic grid, but now the grid is being extended in Yorkshire on a speculative basis to promote future surplus mislocated generation. It is inappropriate to apply the same stringent grid security conditions for this purpose.

8. Nuclear

The policy objectives, particularly security, would imply retaining a nuclear sector. That is going further than keeping the option open, to keeping the sector as a significant part of generation. Closing the sector will not remove the task of disposal, which must be addressed in any case. Costs should be internalised, but intervention for over-riding policy reasons should be overlaid.

MJOC 12.9.02

[The appendices to this response are not included in this news issue.]

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Mike O'Carroll

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