Revolt News 138
HAPPY NEW YEAR to all our readers - in spite of the blight of unnecessary pylons!
1. The California Department of Education adopted a precautionary policy back in 1989 to have new schools set back from powerlines in order to reduce exposure to EMFs. Then earlier this year the California Department of Health produced its final report on EMFs. Now in a Briefing Report of 20.9.02 much stronger limits are suggested (see extract at APPENDIX 1 below). They may be reflected in a policy review next year.
2. More news from fuel cell abstracts sent in by Dr Angela Ovenston. Apart from specific kit developments there are some general reviews and forecasts to note, at APPENDIX 2 below.
3. Further signs of the "hydrogen economy" on its way: BBC News 9.12.02 featured two examples of hydrogen-powered cars. The first, from Hi-Wyre Car, was designed around the hydrogen power unit. The second was a more conventional car from a General Motors subsidiary, "Alternative Propulsion GM". In addition, a strategic conference on Teesside highlights the case for Teesside as a leading national centre for the new hydrogen economy (see newsletter at APPENDIX 3).
4. Maureen Asbury of the Trentham Action Group passes on news of a group called HOPE (Homeowners Oppose Powerline Encroachment) in Georgia, USA. It seems they have a law called "eminent domain" which means the power companies can build powerlines anywhere they want. People from several counties are coming together to get the law changed. For more see http://www.hopeofgeorgia.com/News_Paper/Forsyth_News_120402.htm
5. The last newsletter mailed from Hambleton was sent out on New Year's Eve. A copy is at APPENDIX 3. The arrangement has, understandably, ended with the old year. Hambleton's support over several years has been very much appreciated and of real practical value. While we have tried to avoid it interfering with the Council's more urgent work, and volunteers have done the manual work of labelling and filling envelopes, the staff at Stonecross have been most helpful and efficient in providing this support.
6. Following Revolt's call on NG to waive costs against Rosalind Craven, there doesn't seem to have been any response. Meanwhile Mrs Craven is understood to have lodged her appeal by the deadline of Christmas Eve. Revolt has counselled caution in view of her personal risks, but admires her courage. I hope she wins on appeal - for her sake and for justice, even more than for defeating the pylons. The High Court hearing give us no cause for confidence in the fairness of the legal system. A forthright editorial in the York Evening Press sums up well (APPENDIX 4).
7. (passed on by Elizabeth Mann of CPRE in Durham) A DTI notice of 17.12.02 starts: "David Still, chairman of the British Wind Energy Association and former head of AMEC's wind energy business, was today seconded to the Department of Trade and Industry for two years to help deliver the Government's targets for renewable energy." One of his duties will be to advise on modifying electricity networks. The government's determination to plaster the countryside with windfarms and pylons, a misguided plan since the intermittent and very limited wind power will solve nothing, is ever more evident. They seem to know how to work conflicts of interest to advantage.
APPENDIX 1 Extract from a Briefing Report of 20.9.02 to California Department of Education. (note 1 mG = 0.1 microTesla and 0.1 mG = 0.01 microTesla)
Prudent avoidance of electromagnetic fields has been advised by health agencies that have studied electromagnetic fields, particularly for chronic exposure in children. For that reason we recommend that any new site planning, home renovation or new construction, and school layout and design take into account good planning to avoid elevated EMF.
The design and construction of homes can achieve EMF levels that test at no more than 0.1 mG or 0.2 mG when fully loaded and operational (all electricity is on and working). With the exception of measurements directly adjacent to electrical appliances, a properly designed and built home should measure at or under 0.5 mG. Health studies begin to show elevated risk for childhood leukemia at 2 mG and above, so that there is little margin of safety in observing only a 1 mG planning target limit. However, 1 mG at 95% loading is a reasonable and achievable exposure limit.
This may serve as a guide to developing your own goals and objectives for school planning, siting and design to achieve low-EMF environments for pupils, staff and faculty.
APPENDIX 2 - from fuel cell abstracts
DG Report. Allied Business Intelligence (ABI) has released "Distributed Generation: Global Market Analysis, Technology Assessment and Outlook", a market study analyzing emerging distributed generation (DG) technologies from fuel cells to microturbines, to wind turbines. The study forecasts regional and technological growth for DG technologies from a global perspective. http://www.alliedworld.com/servlets/ResearchDetails?productid=DGN02
Stationary Market Study from ABI. Allied Business Intelligence's (ABI) new study, "Global Stationary Fuel Cell Markets: A Detailed Analysis of an Emerging Industry" identifies early potential opportunities in markets that can see deployment from 50 Watts to 30 MW in the US and worldwide. The study also notes that quality power and industrial power supply markets are expected to see higher growth rates than residential markets. Industrial markets have already started to embrace fuel cell power systems, with the largest growth potential specifically in the small to medium sized industrial markets. http://www.alliedworld.com/servlets/ResearchDetails?productid=FCM02
The Outlook For Fuel Cells To 2010. "The Outlook For Fuel Cells To 2010:
Commercial Opportunities in Power Generation Markets", a new report from
Reuters Business Insight, provides the details of the technologies, which are
going to be competitive in what environments, predicted costs and the future
trajectory for fuel cell development.
APPENDIX 3: REVOLT NEWS December 2002
The last mailing
This is likely to be the last mailing to Revolt's full list of members and interested parties, as the support from Hambleton DC, which has made such mailings possible in the interests of public information, ends this year. We are most grateful for this valuable support and further to Hambleton and North Yorkshire Councils for their co-operation in opposing the new powerlines.
The internet doesn't appeal to everyone, but it does provide an affordable way of giving news more frequently. To receive free Revolt email news, just ask. The web site www.revolt.co.uk carries the email news as well as other features and links.
Revolt's continuing role
The pylons are going up and our legal avenues to object have been exhausted. The sense of grievance at the injustice of this unnecessary, excessive and wasteful imposition is undiminished, but we have to live with it. We will continue to seek opportunities to have the Picton - Shipton line removed, along with the existing Norton - Picton line through West Yarm which will connect to it.
Following the tireless work of Anne McIntosh MP (Con, Vale of York) we also have Stockton South MP Dari Taylor (Lab) writing to Secretary of State to pursue this possibility. While government doesn't have the power to "unconsent" the line, it could press NG to abandon it in the light of evolving energy policy. The 5-year review of consent, due in March 2003, is understood to be limited to EU designated sites of Nature Conservation Interest, and is unlikely to help. After 15 years, that is in March 2013, compulsory wayleaves expire, bringing the line under review again.
Revolt's local role as watchdog and whistle-blower continues, alongside a national role monitoring and promoting energy policy and precautionary policy on health issues. The AGM in September agreed adjustments to Revolt's objectives as reported below.
In November, Revolt conducted a survey of landowners directly affected by the Lackenby - Picton - Shipton lines, something NG has never done. Some 96 land-holdings (most of NG's grantors) were asked for an "objective, fair and balanced" response on NG's performance and conduct (as distinct from how they felt about the line itself). The survey shows mixed responses, reflecting mixed experiences. The report was audited by Peter Edmonds, NFU Group Secretary. Only 6 of 34 respondents were satisfied on all aspects, whereas 12 were dissatisfied on all aspects of whom 7 were very dissatisfied on all aspects. The report includes all the comments received, though they are not attributed. For the full report, send S.A.E. or see www.revolt.co.uk/news135.html
In December, NRPB held a national consultation meeting in Birmingham on "Powerlines and health", chaired by Lord Robert Winston, followed by a conference sponsored by Children with Leukaemia where I presented a paper "Precaution in Practice". All in all, this was a useful day, but one which didn't provide for reasoned scientific debate.
Rosalind Craven's High Court battle
Rosalind Craven denied NG access to her farm at Huby in September on grounds that (among other things) their claimed powers violated fundamental constitutional rights. This had never been tested at law. NG failed to answer her written questions, but applied for a High Court injunction restraining her, with claims of costs of £65,000 per day at court. The case was heard at Leeds on 3rd and 4th December, by the impatient and hostile Judge Hawksworth, a last minute substitute who hadn't read the papers. Judge Behrens had dealt with case planning. Judge Hawksworth decided in NG's favour and awarded costs up to 50% of NG's claim. Mrs Craven lodged appeal papers by the due date of Christmas Eve. Revolt has not encouraged Mrs Craven in view of the risks to her, but we admire her courage in standing alone and support her where we can. It is not over yet.
Energy policy developments
The privatised electricity market is described as "bust" by the Powergen Chief Executive as power stations are mothballed. High gas prices threaten the long term viability of the Enron power station on Teesside. An energy white paper is due early in the new year. From government statements it looks like being wind-power-crazy and impractical, losing the main points of shifting to a hydrogen economy and small distributed generation, both of which reduce the need for pylons.
The Tees Valley local authorities supported a key strategic conference sponsored by DEFRA this summer on "A Tees Valley Hydrogen Economy". It recognises the energy future lies with (clean) hydrogen as a transportable and storable form of energy which will come to replace the polluting carbon economy based on fossil fuels. Teesside is well placed to be the leading national centre.
Revolt has long argued for small distributed generation. A new book "Small is profitable: the hidden economical benefits of making electrical resources the right size" from the Rocky Mountain Institute in America, makes the economic case. See www.smallisprofitable.org .
Note of the 2002 AGM, held on 27.9.02 at Thirsk Town Hall
Anne McIntosh MP (Vale of York) and Dari Taylor MP (Stockton South) both sent apologies and pledged their support. Over 30 people attended. "REVOLT" was retained as the group's name, dropping the old acronym and without a new alternative. The objectives were amended to: 3.1 To oppose the Norton - Picton - Shipton 400 kV line; 3.2 To press for a co-ordinated UK energy policy; 3.3 To monitor developments related to powerlines and to liaise with similar organisations. 3.4 To promote a precautionary policy on public health matters relating to powerlines.
As planned, the committee size was reduced to ten and the ten standing members were re-elected. The open forum included a contribution from Rosalind Craven on her constitutional challenge. As there was some support for an event to express solidarity, Richard Gill organised a bonfire on the Saturday before bonfire night, which went off well in spite of appalling weather.
APPENDIX 4: York Evening Press editorial of 12.12.02
"Power, but no glory for Grid"
Rosalind Craven had the guts to stand up for what she believed in. She took on a mighty monopoly, the National Grid, and lost.
Her defeat was a blow to all who object to the giant pylons. And most North Yorkshire residents are implacably opposed to the plan to disfigure our countryside with an immense powerline merely to satiate the electricity needs of the south of England.
Today we salute Mrs Craven's brave stance, and utterly condemn the intimidation tactics of the National Grid.
On Tuesday the High Court granted the company access to build three of the pylons, each as tall as Nelson's column, on her farm at Huby. That left Mrs Craven facing a bill for costs.
And what a bill. In pounds and pence it reveals the National Grid as the worst kind of corporate bully.
The company is claiming £5,635 for a poor quality half hour video of its officials confronting Mrs Craven at her farm gate. This extortionate amount is explained by the National Grid's decision to hire a specialist, London-based video firm.
That, along with the deployment of a team of no fewer than 11 solicitors against Mrs Craven, who represented herself in court, implies one thing. Angered by the temerity of Mrs Craven's defiance, the National Grid chose not merely to challenge her but to crush her.
So the multi-billion pound company deployed its heaviest artillery against a North Yorkshire farmer's widow. Its victory was less than heroic. Little wonder no other landowner chose to mount a challenge.
A district judge will now decide how much Mrs Craven should pay. She may lose her home.
Having put her under such intense pressure, it is time for National Grid to relent. We wholeheartedly back campaign group Revolt's call for it to waive all legal fees.
Otherwise it will be forever known as the company which tramples over people in much the same way as its giant pylons will trample over our countryside.