REVOLT News 

29/10/2004

Text Version 

Revolt news 173 

1. At last night's REVOLT AGM, it was decided to keep the name REVOLT
without a specific form of words for the acronym, but to allow multiple
variations, including "Reason and Evidence versus Overhead Line
Transmission", which, although appropriate, was thought rather dry. The
original was Rural England etc. but we soon found we were just as
involved with urban concerns and we had support beyond England.
Suggestions please!
2. The outcome of last night's review of objectives was to replace the
first objective, which referred to the Lackenby - Picton - Shipton line,
by a more general version, and to add a fifth objective. The resulting
set is:
* To oppose unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development;
* To press for a co-ordinated UK energy policy;
* To monitor developments related to powerlines and to liaise with
similar organisations;
* To promote a precautionary policy on public health matters relating to
powerlines;
* To promote alternative systems of transmission.
3. The AGM also considered a draft position statement in depth and made
several amendments. The result is published for consultation and
response from members and other contacts (APPENDIX 1).
4. The Chairman's Report of October 2004 is at APPENDIX 2.
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APPENDIX 1   REVOLT Position Statement October 2004
1. Background
REVOLT was founded in 1991 principally to object to the proposed 50-mile
400 kV overhead transmission line from Teesside to York, using evidence,
analysis and technical expertise. A second objective was to promote
rational energy distribution policy. The group had all-party support and
worked in collaboration with the several local authorities involved.
The Electricity Act 1989 had privatised the UK electricity industry. A
"dash for gas" characterised generation in the early 1990s, as North Sea
gas was exploited. This threatened to exacerbate the north - south
separation of generation from demand. In the 21st century, gas is
running out and government policy is driving renewable generation,
especially wind farms.
After several public inquiries and hearings, with unprecedented numbers
of landowners refusing to grant voluntary wayleaves, and after objectors
won many concessions and delays, the new Yorkshire line was completed in
2003. By this time REVOLT was an internet-based international focus for
public concerns about transmission lines, related energy policy and
electro-magnetic fields (EMFs).
This position statement declares REVOLT's stance on key issues at
October 2004.
2. Politics and argument
REVOLT is strictly non-party-political and has enjoyed support from all
the main UK parties. We seek to follow reason and evidence in arguing a
balanced and credible case, informed by up-to-date science and
technology, and so welcome discussion and stakeholder dialogue.
3. Public electricity supply
While bulk generation of electricity involves waste, pollution and
energy costs, REVOLT recognises the benefits of a public electricity
supply and accepts the need for distribution and transmission networks.
Connection to a public network can make local and renewable generation
and CHP more economically viable. We do not necessarily accept all the
compulsory powers in their present form and we are concerned about human
rights issues.
4. Energy policy
REVOLT takes no position on economic growth or privatisation, but
recognises the importance of secure and reliable energy supply, of
sustainability and of efficient use of natural resources. The benefits
of competition have to be weighed against the problems of private
interests, regulated monopolies and market distortion. We support the
broad principles of localisation and CHP, diversity of energy sources
and methods, and low-carbon energy. We encourage the development of
renewable and hydrogen-based energy in place of carbon-based energy.
5. Global warming
REVOLT recognises the scientific evidence, and the uncertainty, on the
different questions of 
* the nature and extent of global warming, 
* the increase in greenhouse gases, particularly CO2, 
* the  relative influence of human and natural (e.g. solar) effects upon
climate change, 
* the risks and benefits of climate change.
REVOLT supports reducing human greenhouse gas emissions as a
precautionary measure, provided that such measures are proportionate and
do not unfairly or unreasonably create other forms of damage. We
recognise the importance of climate change but feel the view of the
Environmental Audit Committee (of UK MPs) that "combating climate change
remains the single most urgent priority facing mankind" overstates it.
6. Wind farms
Wind power can provide some net renewable energy, but has serious
limitations arising from its intermittence and high variability. Factors
to be taken into account include:
* energy cost of concrete foundations and construction, and of local
infrastructure, 
* economic cost of stand-by generation and grid reinforcement,
* environmental impact of infrastructure and grid reinforcement,
* limited market penetration due to grid stability and balancing issues,
* bulk long distance transmission implications.
As a precautionary measure in response to the uncertainty of global
warming, REVOLT encourages wind power development near areas of net
demand and not in areas of high landscape value, subject to local
consent and careful environmental impact assessment. With these
provisos, large offshore developments near the Thames and Mersey may be
appropriate, whereas large-scale wind farms in the Hebrides would not
be.
7. Nuclear power
REVOLT takes no firm position on nuclear power per se. On the one hand
there are advantages of an essentially carbon-free, large-scale source
of energy. On the other hand there are dangerous waste products, albeit
in small volume, with both political security and long term disposal
problems. 
Nevertheless REVOLT encourages continued research and appraisal of
nuclear technology, including the use of distributed small-scale
generators, either based on standard submarine engines, or with new
cleaner technology such as pebble-bed reactors, and calls for
feasibility studies for use in the UK.
8. Transmission lines
REVOLT accepts the need for a basic transmission grid to provide a
secure public electricity supply, although we oppose unnecessary,
excessive and intrusive development. We advocate more local generation
and CHP with the aim of broad balance of regional generation with
demand. Inter-regional grid will still be needed for security and
balancing purposes, but bulk dislocation of generation from demand
should be reduced. Transmission standards should be applied carefully in
the public interest, for a minimal necessary grid, and not abused in
order to promote excessive or speculative development. We encourage
technological innovation into alternatives to overhead lines and into
better pylon design and location, for example along motorways.
9. Underground cables
REVOLT recognises that underground cables are more expensive than
overhead lines, though suspects the difference is sometimes exaggerated,
as is the impact of undergrounding. We encourage research and
development into new technologies. Remote drilling and tunnelling
technologies are already well established. DC cables offer advantages
for long undersea or underground cables. Superconducting technology
offers potentially more favourable cost ratios when the large savings in
electricity losses are taken into account. We recommend short-stretch
undergrounding to reduce residential impacts, and pilot development of
new technologies for long-distance transmission in scenic areas such as
the Ullapool - Beauly - Denny proposal in Scotland.
10. Environmental appraisal and protection
REVOLT supports the environmental principle of internalisation: that is
the secondary effects and environmental damage caused by a project
should be assessed and charged to the project, in determining its
viability. This also reflects the polluter-pays principle.
In a hybrid economic system with private regulated monopolies, costs
borne by utility companies may in any case be passed on to consumers
through allowed price increases. This is one way to fund undergrounding
and new technology in the public interest.
Proposals for new power stations should be required to include all
transmission implications as secondary effects within their formal
Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA). An appropriate share of the cost
"deep reinforcement", in addition to local connections, should be
charged to the power station developer.
Where wayleaves for power lines are due for renewal, with or without the
voluntary agreement of the landowner, and the original installation was
not subject to EIA, an EIA should be required in the public interest.
Local planning and public responses should then be sought, in the light
of which Secretary of State should have the power to revoke consent.
11. Property devaluation and compensation
While there is no entitlement to a view in English law, there is a
serious injustice when significant damage to quality of life or loss of
property value is imposed disproportionately upon residents, as a result
of a public or private development. The injustice is particularly great
when a new powerline passes through a neighbouring property close to a
family residence, leaving the family with no influence on wayleave
matters and no compensation, yet facing losses possibly greater than
their life savings. The injustice applies both to imposed visual impact
and to imposed EMF exposures and health fears, particularly in urban
housing.
REVOLT feels that compensation for new powerline developments should, in
the public interest, reflect property devaluation and should extend to
all residents affected as well as wayleave grantors. Although wayleave
grantors receive compensation, current levels are far too low and should
be reviewed. The lack of adequate compensation for wayleaves should not
be allowed to create an unfair inducement to concede permanent
easements. The cost of all such compensation should be incorporated in
the cost of the powerline project, and allowed by the regulator within
reasonable limits to be passed on to consumers. 
We accept that such compensation may not readily extend to all
commercial development, but recommend such a policy for quasi-public
developments such as powerlines, wind farms and phone masts, as a matter
of public interest and justice. Adequate levels of compensation would
reduce objection and deter excessive development.
12. Public health issues
Electro-magnetic fields (EMFs) from powerlines are recognised by IARC
(the International Agency for Research in Cancer) as a possible
carcinogen, in the light of the persistent association with childhood
leukaemia. There is a body of evidence suggesting other diseases, such
as cancers and neurological diseases, may also be associated. Apart from
EMFs, powerlines emit corona ions causing clouds of charged aerosol
particles to drift in the wind, although it is not firmly established
that this causes specific harm. Biological evidence suggests there may
be cumulative damaging processes, such as stress upon immune systems,
pro-oxidant stress, or cumulative damage to DNA which eventually leads
to cancerous cells. 
REVOLT accepts that it is plausible that EMFs and / or charged aerosols
may contribute to cumulative biological effects which can eventually
become harmful, and therefore may be factors in multi-causal and multi-
effect modern diseases affecting immune, neurological or other systems,
particularly in susceptible sub-groups of the general population.  On
the other hand, we recognise that the number of cases of childhood
leukaemia attributed on current knowledge to EMF from powerlines is very
small, although it is likely to be understated through reference to
inappropriate exposure measures (not focusing on nocturnal exposure and
suppression of melatonin) and through inappropriate study populations
(diluting effects by considering only whole populations and failing to
consider susceptible subgroups, whereas, for example, important genetic
subgroups have been identified).
Therefore REVOLT recommends precautionary policy in reducing such
exposures as far as reasonably achievable. This should apply immediately
to new powerline proposals and to new building near existing powerlines,
and, in a phased programme, to reviewing existing exposures from
existing powerlines. We note that some other countries have already
adopted precautionary measures. 
MJOC  (as amended  29.10.04)
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APPENDIX 2  Chairman's Report 2004.
Finally last year the full 50 mile Lackenby - Picton - Shipton 400 kV
project, which included 6 km underground, was completed. Organised local
objection in North Yorkshire has therefore practically ended, although
some landowners continue to experience difficulties with National Grid
and questions have been raised about reinstatement of accesses. The
legal battle fought by Rosalind Craven at Huby is not yet over. We may
hear more of that soon.
When the new line was proposed in 1991, following the approval of the
Teesside Power Station (i.e. the Enron gas-fired plant), a key objection
was that it was not needed. Since then the picture has changed. Mooted
new gas-fired stations on Teesside never materialised. The Blyth coal
fired stations in Northumberland closed. Gas supplies are running down,
and new energy policy places wind farms as a top priority. Undersea
cables form Norway to Hartlepool are proposed, but far from certain. 
Wind power presents many problems as it is very variable and
intermittent. The combination of intermittence and remoteness places
great strains on the electricity grid, especially as market penetration
increases. When he was energy minister, Brian Wilson promoted the idea
of an undersea cable to take power from Hebrides wind farms direct to
Merseyside, but this seems to have been dropped. Instead a 200 mile
400kV line is planned through Scotland's scenic Highlands from Ullapool
via Beauly to Denny in Perthshire.
If wind power were to be taken to the extent envisaged in government
policy, then more large powerlines will be needed throughout the UK. The
engineering and economic folly of such an extent of wind power will
hopefully become clear before it gets that far, as Denmark and Germany
are already finding. In the meantime, Revolt keeps in touch with wind
farm objectors such as Country Guardian and CPRE, and acts as a contact
for objectors to the Ullapool - Beauly - Denny line and other damaging
development.
A stakeholder advisory group (SAGE) hosted by the Department of Health
is developing UK precautionary policy on health issues from EMFs. Credit
where it's due, the group was formed following an initiative of National
Grid. I serve on it. Recognition of the need for precaution, and of the
grounds for concern about exposures, is a step forward from the long
years of denial. 
Revolt has become largely an internet organisation. Contacts are
received from many other countries and from people in the UK with local
problems. The web site has several hundred page downloads every day,
with over 1,000 on the busiest days. We continue to monitor government
energy policy and to make submissions to government departments and
regulators when appropriate. Over the last year 22 issues of Revolt
email news were circulated.
Mike O'Carroll, Chairman
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Mike O'Carroll

 

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