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Revolt News 139

24/01/03

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Revolt News 139

1. We may not have covered this before, but a conference sponsored by DEFRA last summer on a Tees Valley Hydrogen Economy could point to a very significant development, and one which is timely as we presently await the government white paper on energy policy. Government policy is strong on reducing carbon emissions, but off-beam in its manic pursuit of windfarms. The longer-term change will be to a hydrogen-based energy economy replacing much of the present carbon-based economy. Windfarms and other renewable sources would be much better producing hydrogen rather than electricity with its problems of transmission, storage and losses. Apart from burning clean, hydrogen, piped to consumers, would promote greater efficiency and fewer pylons. Teesside is uniquely placed to become a UK centre for hydrogen technology, as it already has a large production capacity, pipeline and storage facilities, and expertise. But the UK already lags behind other leading countries in developing this vital future technology.

2. Robert Woodward, retiring as Vice-Chairman of Country Guardian (the group campaigning against wind farms), gave a parting statement (APPENDIX 1 below) on windfarms, with a clear resonance with the position on pylons.

3. Snips from Electromagnetic Hazard and Therapy, vol. 13 (2), 2002 (just out 17.1.03): 

(a) The Radio Association, funded by taxpayers, was instructed to set up a public access database listing all mobile phone base stations in the UK, following the Stewart Report. But they are using an obscuring technique to make it very difficult to use, says Powerwatch Director Alasdair Philips. The unique site reference numbers are changed every three months. Alasdair says "The unanimous opinion of various large UK commercial database managers canvassed was that the only reason to change the main index reference numbers would be to prevent a proper audit taking place and such a practice would not be permitted in a financial database". Characteristic government (dis)honesty? 

(b) Scientists at the International Conference "State of Research on EMFs - Scientific and Legal Issues" in Catania, Italy, in September signed an important declaration (APPENDIX 2) of concern about EMFs. The 16 major speakers, mainly professors, came from Austria, Germany, Israel, Italy, Poland, Sweden and USA. 

(c) The Police Federation Conference 23.10.02 debated the controversial TETRA radio system, reported physics lecturer Barry Trower who wrote the report on TETRA for the Federation and seemed to think the conference was a whitewash. A new Chairman of the Federation gave a very supportive introduction to TETRA. But the Lancashire Federation Chairman described the health problems that 200 officers had experienced with the system, which is pulsed at 17.64 Hz, a frequency resonant with natural brain activity. They included blisters, ulcers on the face and heated kidneys. Dr Levy, Home Office Scientist, is reported as saying "I don't believe they're sick - they're not sick enough to stop this trial". 

(d) Further to (a), another article shows many base stations are exceeding ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) and PPG8 guidelines.

4. Snips from Microwave News XXII (6) Nov/Dec 02: 

(a) While industry and government try to deny non-thermal bio-effects of EMF and telecoms microwaves, the US military is planning to exploit them in the next generation of "non-lethal" weapons, which will "probably be based on more subtle human/RF interaction in which the signal information within the RF exposure causes an effect other than simply heating". 

(b) Levels of non-ionising radiation in many UK workplaces exceed the ICNIRP limits, according to a new report from the NRPB. The report is available at

 http://www.nrpb.org/publications/w_series_reports/index.htm

(c) The WHO seems to be taking a sceptical line on precaution. They liken EMFs, classified by IARC last year as a possible human carcinogen, to coffee "which may increase the risk of kidney cancer, while at the same time be protective against bowel cancer". The WHO new booklet on Risks from EMF is at <http://www.who.int/emf>. MWN comments that WHP picked coffee from the IARC list which also includes DDT and lead in the same category. 

(d) A new UK government Code of Practice for mobile phone base stations is at

http://www.planning.odpm.gov.uk/telecomms/index.htm .

5. NG has applied for renewal of planning permission from Stockton BC for access works at the entrance to White Hall Farm, Yarm. Last date for objections is 7th Feb.

6. Ralph and Jean Ford report correspondence with NG on two topics:

(a) On low height towers east of Thirsk (news131.3), NG confirm they were because of low-flying military aircraft, and that the inspectors at the 1992 inquiries concluded they were more visually intrusive than the normal (higher) towers (para. 27.44 of the inquiry report). 

(b) NG will shortly be starting discussions with landowners "in earnest" on tree felling and replanting, with a view to planting next winter, according to a letter of 8 Jan from Steve Knight-Gregson, Head of Consents at NG. They claim they are going further than the minimum replacement scheme and adding off-site planting to screen views of the line. Most of the planting will be in a 4 km wide corridor centred on the line. The total cost is expected to be over a million pounds. NG estimate for the Vale of York (not defined) 337 trees will definitely be felled and a further 515 trimmed or felled. The problem identified in the past is that the farmers would have to provide the land for planting without compensation. Revolt calls on NG to offer fair compensation for land given up.

7. From Professional Engineering 15 Jan: 

(a) Following the depressed electricity wholesale market and Powergen's closing two power stations, Energy Minister Brian Wilson is backing changes to the Electricity Bill to allow the government to take over British Energy, the nuclear generation company. (See item 10 below.) 

(b) The UK will be a net importer of gas by 2005. The International Association for Oil and Gas Producers (OGP) estimates there are gas resources in Europe for the next 30 to 40 years, and with sources outside Europe for 100 years, principally in the old USSR. The UK will increasingly depend on imports from Norway and Russia, with huge capital investment needed in pipelines.

8. NG work is reported 22 Jan in very wet weather, especially in the Picton to Crathorne area either side of the A19 and on Rosalind Craven's land at Huby. The famous dry weather condition, which requires that the work "shall be undertaken in dry weather conditions and when the soil is in a dry state", is a formal requirement. However the "small print" rather contradicts the main statement, since it allows work until the "ten inch rut rule" is breached, although it might be argued that only covers the second part of the condition (re. the soil) and not the first (re. the weather). It is for the local authorities to enforce the condition, so I will see what they say.

9. Snips from the DEFRA magazine Energy & Environmental Management Jan/Feb 2003: 

(a) The Sustainable Development Commission has launched a new program called dCARB-uk to work out practical details of a low-carbon economy and society. 

(b) The Green Alliance recommends simplifying the Climate Change Levy and strengthening it into a carbon tax, in "Next Steps for Energy Taxation". See green-alliance.org. 

(c) A study for DTI by consultants ILEX says unreliable renewable power could cause system costs of 400 million pounds a year. (Almost as much as the waste that the Picton-Shipton line would promote!) It calls for more biomass, tide and wave power instead of wind, and for windfarms to be nearer to demand instead of remote. UK renewables targets are for 20% of all electricity by 2020, 10% by 2010, but so far we only have 3%. 

(d) From NETA to BETTA: the British Energy Trading and Transmission Markets system will create a single wholesale electricity trading pool for all Britain. 

(e) Ofgem thinks the government's proposals for massive windfarm development could exacerbate the current problems of overcapacity (25% of peak demand compared with the more usual 15%). 

(f) The data booklet The Environment in your Pocket can be downloaded from

 http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/statistics/eiyp/index.htm 

10. Ceefax 110 of 23.1.03 says a committee of Ministers will consider the fate of British Energy, the nuclear power company which produces about 25% of UK power. "Laws will be rushed through Parliament on Monday to allow the privatised firm to be taken into administration."

11. Heard on Radio 4 22.1.03, re. Virgin introducing tilting trains on all of its services: "they'll be able to do wheelies over all the bits of track Balfour Beatty Jarvis have b*ggered up".

12. NYCC is pressing ahead with work on rail bridges in the wake of the Selby crash. Motorway-style barriers will now be put on seven of the road bridges which cross the East Coast Main Line. Of the 133 bridges over railway lines in North Yorkshire, 25 of them will require safety work. Sites for the initial work include two near Great Heck; four bridges north of York between Tollerton and Skelton; and Avenue Bridge between Northallerton and Thirsk.

See  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/uk_news/england/2682905.stm 

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APPENDIX 1. Robert Woodward's Resignation Statement

I joined Country Guardian in 1992 and it has been a good ten years: the wind industry was promising us 30,000 turbines by now and they have managed to put up fewer than a thousand - thanks largely to Country Guardian and its members. I have made good friends up and down the country from Northern Scotland to the West Country and from Aberystwyth to East Anglia, people united in a love of landscape and a dislike of big business wearing a green heart on its sleeve while stuffing greenbacks into its pocket.

We have won the intellectual argument: no informed person now believes in wind energy unless they are making money out of it or using it, as the present government does, as a fig leaf to hide the lack of a real policy for tackling CO2 emissions.

Sadly, we have lost some wonderful landscapes, and we will lose some more, but I have no doubt that many of us will live to see the turbines demolished just as we now watch the disastrous 1960's tower blocks being dynamited. And we will live to see reviled the greed-driven developers and the cynical politicians who have been the architects of the failed policy. I hope I will still be young enough to climb Skiddaw and look out over a turbine-free landscape, and walk the hills of my beloved Mid Wales when the machines have gone again.

Now I need a break, but I hope to be back.

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APPENDIX 2. Scientists' declaration from Catania, Italy, 13-14 September 2002.

Epidemiological and in vivo and in vitro experimental evidence demonstrates the existence for EMF induced effects, some of which can be adverse to health.

We take exception to arguments suggesting that weak (low intensity) EMF cannot interact with tissue. There are plausible mechanistic explanations for EMF-induced effects which occur below present ICNIRP and IEEE guidelines and exposure recommendations by the EU.

The weight of evidence calls for preventive strategies based on the precautionary principle. At times the precautionary principle may involve prudent avoidance and prudent use.

We are aware that there are gaps in the knowledge on biological and physical effects and health risks related to EMF, which require additional independent research.

The undersigned scientists agree to establish an international scientific commission to promote research for the protection of public health from EMF and to develop the scientific basis and strategies for assessment, prevention, management and communication of risk, based on the precautionary principle.

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Mike O'Carroll

 

Huby Protest