1. Stewart Grant for NGC confirms that the work at South Carolina Farm is Northern Electric. NGC call it facilitation works which were under NE's control, and so it wasn't expected that their vehicles would carry the identification and phone number as NGC contractors would do. The trackway was laid by EVE Trackway, who we reported (news57, Oct 2000) as having purchased 2 million pounds worth of extra trackway for hire. Wagons delivering the trackway were marked "EVE".
2. Stewart Grant says NGC would expect to use the same trackway system to put land protection in place and so continue working in the wet, though objectors and landowners (see below) may have other ideas bearing in mind the explicit planning condition. He also says Balfour Beatty are working on another Northern Electric project (132kV line) in the vicinity of Helperby, so please don't assume it is for NGC.
3. David Dugdale has taken legal advice on the dry weather condition and 10 inch rut rule. It says the rule and planning condition are matters for the local authority and are not binding on the landowners. The landowners are free to agree more stringent conditions, but might be provocative if they agreed less stringent conditions. The route and any other matters agreed between NGC and the landowner and occupier are separate and need not be influenced by the detail of the planning conditions. "... as landowners and occupiers we should not necessarily be forced into agreeing such unstringent conditions as allowing ruts up to 10 inches depth ...". So, this again reinforces Revolt's point that landowners (and occupiers) are in the driving seat, and do not have to agree to NGC's demands or conditions. [See also news67]
4. David also reports that NGC has raised the payment for grantors' time spent discussing the project with its own and contractors' staff to 25 pounds per hour. That is well below the rates for land agents of 60 to 80 pounds per hour. Why?
5. Follow up on last year's High Court ruling that it was unlawful for John Prescott (as Sec of State) to decide planning appeals (judge in his own cause): Sunday Times 28.1.01 article by Paul Durman says Government is appealing to the House of Lords, and Mast Action UK is pressing for a precautionary approach in the light of the Stewart Report into safety of mobile phones. It's a big issue - lot's of people involved and loads-a- money in potential planning delays to 3G mobile networks.
6. Ian Cunniffe reports the Environment Council workshop 18 Jan in Wokingham appeared to work satisfactorily. A range of stakeholders gathered to consider NGC's Environmental (Schedule 9) Statement. The Env Co report was circulated today as promised, though it is mainly lists of issues without conclusions. Next NGC are to draft a new Sch 9 Statement for circulation and posting on NGC's web site for comment. Ian and Peter Johnson attended as shareholders. I was not available to attend but sent a written submission and have received the Env Co report.
7. Ian also reports the Tree Council is taking an interest in the tree replacement scheme. His contact is sympathetic to the idea of compensation to landowners for land given up.
8. Heard that BP and NGC are to meet today (Wed) in Thirsk to discuss corrosion by electrolysis, a subject one of our expert members recently covered at a national conference. The theory is that powerlines induce currents in pipelines nearby and this can enhance corrosion. We will see where the meeting leads.
9. Today's Times reports a farmer in Suffolk faces trial for manslaughter for leaving mud on the road. NGC and contractors beware!
10. Reports on the underground section say the topsoil has been stripped in relatively dry conditions though the heaped topsoil is now extremely wet. Most work being done is on the junction boxes and some duct boring work. NG have also been soil drilling on pylon sites Lackenby-Picton, in snow and frost, but with little damage. They are using a tripod drilling rig equipped with wide tyres towed by a tractor with very wide tyres.
11. North Yorkshire has imposed a standard E3 access on National Grid, 37 metres wide at the road with a 15 metre distance from the road to the gate. One landowner says that is out of proportion (too big). Stockton only require a 27 m wide access and will accept a narrower one if it is only accessed from one side. Such an access is virtually approved for the Seamer bypass route serving about 8 pylons while HDC has decided that two accesses of the 37 m sort need refusal, but that may lead to more damage from NG's alternative. One landowner reports NG on-site staff courteous and responsive to comments; sites are well maintained and security is good.
12. Revolt has not objected to NG access applications with Stockton, Middlesbrough or Redcar & Cleveland Councils. Revolt does not oppose Lackenby-Picton in principle, but does object to some local impacts.
-- Mike O'Carroll