REVOLT News 

21/03/2003

Text Version 

1. Basslink community picket (news159.6) success - see Appendix 1.

2. Commendations to CPRE <www.cpre.org.uk> for its authoritative campaigning or the countryside and effective planning laws. Its magazine Countryside Voice, Spring 2004, announces a concession in January from government in the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill going through the House of Lords. County Councils are to have a legal duty to be involved in regional planning. CPRE is seeking other concessions.

3. For more on the Bristol field of light (1300 fluorescent tubes under a power line lit by the stray fields) (news159.8) and how it works see http://www.guardian.co.uk/life/thisweek/story/0,12977,1156000,00.html The artist-in-residence Richard Box is responsible (see news159.8). It is hoped to put the picture on the revolt web site.

4. Ben Cryer of BBC TV in Leeds did a piece broadcast on Friday 19.3.04, showing a hand-held fluorescent tube aglow under the new line near Welbury and East Rounton. We had some fun playing star wars. It certainly works! Though it seems to work better with a long thin tube than a short fat one. The effect is due to the electric fields, but the magnetic field readings I took at the time showed about 2.5 microTesla ((T) under one circuit on the new line and about 1.5 under the other. As we knew, the line is only lightly used, but the fields under one circuit were still about 6 times the 0.4 (T level associated with a doubling of risk of childhood leukaemia. And the loading on the circuits was unbalanced, which doesn't help. A few minutes later under the old line near East Rounton, the measurements were 6 (T under one circuit and 3 (T under the other.

5. The Environment Council facilitated a stake-holder meeting 2.3.04 in London on precautionary policy for health concerns about powerlines, in which government departments and agencies were well represented. The meeting hopefully marks a step on the road to precautionary policy in the UK. (See Appendix 2 for a summary from my perspective as a participant.)

6. Dermot Finnegan writes from Sale, Manchester, that National Grid have just erected 2 new pylons next to his property on behalf of the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive. He intends to take them to court and says "The pylons have destroyed the environment I created from a derelict bog to a specifically designed house in a location of our choice. Set in 10 acres the site is unique to me and my family. I was there first. My invoice to National Grid is for 7.5M."

7. The Beauly - Denny 400 kV line (news159.7) proposed by Scottish and Southern Electricity is causing much anguish. It seems to be a consequence of the government's deeply flawed policy of remote wind- farms. Ron Maclean <rdmaclean@berisay.co.uk> is the secretary of Kiltarlity Community Council (near Inverness) and represents public concerns.

8. The BBC "If" programme on Wed 10.3.04 looked at the parlous state of our electricity system and what-if there is a major blackout. See Appendix 3 for link and summary.

9. As the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill reached its report stage in the House of Lords, the Country Land and Business Association tabled amendments to some simple but significant wording which has far reaching implications for anyone who owns land or any property, be it a terraced house or a country estate. The CLA says the Bill would give local authorities dangerous powers. <http://www.cla.org.uk/article.php?page=news&docnum=687&CLA=e7fa7de83029 4a0236a88d3c7b88931c>

10. Article by Steve Rogerson in IEE Power Engineering Feb/March 2004 outlines key problems likely to delay the wind industry in the UK. The top hurdle is grid stability. Lewis Dale, regulatory strategy manager of NG, is quoted "We could lose a large proportion of our power simultaneously and this could shut down the whole system. We can't afford a blackout every time we get a lightning strike."

11. The Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) <http://www.raeng.org.uk/> this month issued a report by PB Power called "The Costs of Generating Electricity", together with its own RAE commentary and summary. The RAE has previously (news127.3) been critical of the engineering viability of the government's wind-power policy. At last, in the cost analysis, "for intermittent sources of generation, such as wind, an additional amount has been included for the provision of adequate standby generation"; something I've long been calling for. The result shows that wind power costs (wholesale) in the region of 5 to 7 p/kWh, similar to other renewables, compared with conventional generation from 2 to 3 p/kWh.

12. Snippets from News@All-Energy at Appendix 4. Note DTI moves to reduce transmission charges for power from Scotland - that's subsidy (news159.7) and market distortion to favour uneconomic remote generation!

13. The NRPB report on Corona Ions has appeared and is welcomed by Prof Henshaw's team at Bristol, although they have further comments, noting that Henshaw's paper in Medical Hypotheses, 59, No.1, 39-51 suggests that between 200-400 excess cases of lung cancer might be occurring annually in populations living near powerlines in the UK. The comments can be seen (with a link to the NRPB report) at <http://www.electric-fields.bris.ac.uk/Response.htm>

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APPENDIX 1 - report from Basslink community picket

 Sent: Tuesday, February 17, 2004 7:30 AM  

Subject: News Flash - Basslink Picket succeeds on 2nd morning

Our Basslink Concerned Citizens Coalition Community Picket Line, as  supported by the Gippsland Trades and Labour Council, is operating at both the front and back gates to the Basslink Converter Station worksite this morning (Tuesday). The CFMEU workers have been forced to decide if they  cross a community picket line. (Yesterday they snuck around behind it). Today all workers and the Union Organiser have turned back from the gates and work is not happening on Basslink at Loy Yang today.

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APPENDIX 2: Personal note on stake-holder meeting 2.3.04

The Environment Council (TEC) facilitated a stake-holder meeting 2.3.04 in London on precautionary policy for health concerns about powerlines. The meeting was called and sponsored by NG although its brief and operation was to facilitate open stake-holder dialogue, a role in which the Environment Council has specialised.

In the run-up to the event some public concern representatives had expressed worries about the purpose and independence of the event, and some chose not to participate. TEC responded to those worries and recast the objectives and agenda. In the event it was, in my view, well conducted and open, and TEC's structure and modus operandi stands up well to scrutiny.

Key people from several government departments and agencies were there (e.g. DTI, DOH. ODPM, HSE, NRPB) along with industry representatives and public concern groups. They all agreed "ground rules", including Chatham House rules and not producing conclusions, in order to promote open discussion. The tone was constructive. Half the day addressed the question of stake-holder engagement and half particular issues on health and powerlines.

While the discussion, inevitably, didn't get far with detailed issues, it did move towards precaution in principle and to pursuing stake-holder engagement further. Problems of intrinsic dependence, or "structural prejudice", were acknowledged, arising from systems of appointment or funding, but countered by the principle of stake-holder agreement: if all the stake-holders accepted a process or conclusion then this would be an effective test of its independence from bias through interest.

That led to the concept of a stake-holder representative group, to be acceptable to all the stake-holders, which could take precautionary policy further. We called such a group "BOB", for want of a name. It might be able to inform planning policy guidance, to provide public advice and to recommend precautionary actions. There was keen interest in forming a BOB and TEC will consult further about how this might best be done.

In my view this is a small but significant step, though long overdue. It reflects a slowly changing attitude to precaution and to stake-holder engagement in both government and industry. After years of denial of precaution on health and powerlines, then gradual discussion of what it might mean, we might eventually be moving to actually doing something about it. I would encourage all the stake-holders to join in, but don't hold your breath!

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APPENDIX 3 BBC What-if the electricity system fails.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/business/3496844.stm

Wednesday, 10 March, 2004, 01:47 GMT Power cuts 'could hit UK by 2006' The UK could be hit by electricity supply problems within two years, an expert who advises the government on energy policy has said.

Dieter Helm told BBC Two's If... The Lights Go Out that the UK had a "very clapped out" power generation system.

It was too dependent on imported gas for its electricity, Mr Helm said.

The Department of Trade and Industry did not agree. It said new generating capacity was being created through the reopening of mothballed power stations.

Government policy was focused on the safe, secure and affordable supply of electricity, it added.

Terrorist attack

However, BBC business correspondent Hugh Pym said Mr Helm's claims could not be easily dismissed because he sits on Government energy advisory panels.

In the TV programme, which asks if the UK is becoming too reliant on imported gas supplies and examines what could happen should terrorists attack a vital pipeline, Mr Helm accuses the government of having no insurance against power cuts.

He highlights the decline of North Sea gas and the condition of the UK's power stations as causes for concern - its coal power stations are due to for replacement and most nuclear generators are set to close in the next decade.

Mr Helm says that without new policy initiatives the UK's luck will run out and there could be supply problems by 2006.

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APPENDIX 4 Snips from news@all-energy

3.1.Move to boost Scottish renewables industry

Transmission charges for generators of renewable energy in outlying areas of Scotland could be eased, under proposals announced by the DTI. www.gnn.gov.uk/gnn/national.nsf/TI/3AC6EF92C913A98580256E4B005AD2C3?open document See too the DTI's "Transmission Charging and the GB Wholesale Electricity Market. DTI Conclusions on Part 2: Transmission charging in the context of the Government's policy objectives for growth in renewables" is now on the web www.dti.gov.uk/energy/domestic_markets/ele ctricity_trading/trans_charging2.pdf

3.3.National Audit Office to probe ROCs

The National Audit Office, the UK Government's spending watchdog, is to examine ministers' policies to promote renewable energy. Its probe will centre on the DTI's Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROC) programme. http://news.independent.co.uk/business/news/story.jsp?story=493764

A report from ESB National Grid quantifies the operational/ economic impact of large levels of wind generation on Ireland's generation system; and finds that the potential fuel and emissions savings are tempered by the inherent intermittence of wind www.eirgrid.ie/EirGridPor tal/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=Wind

9.2.Ambitious hydrogen energy project in Unst

Unst is the base for an ambitious new project to establish and test locally produced renewable energy. Promoting Unst Renewable Energy (PURE) will be one of the first hydrogen research and development facilities in the UK, storing renewable energy as hydrogen www.hie.co.uk /welcome.asp.LocID-newadx.SiteID-1.News-.htm

10.3.M-ways to power the grid

The UK Highways Agency has given the go-ahead for solar panels to be built beside carriageways to generate electricity for the national grid www.autoexpress.co.uk/?http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/news/ae_news_story.p hp?id=44305

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Mike O'Carroll

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