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Revolt Newsletter 77

26/02/2001

1. Alec Dickson of Smiths Gore writes 23.2.00 to NGC on behalf of clients on the Shipton-Picton line: "In view of the foot and mouth outbreak and as a precautionary measure, please take note that NO ACCESS OF ANY KIND will be granted to NGC or any of its contractors until we have firm recommendations from the Ministry of Agriculture."

2. One farm at Newby, on the underground section, is under a Form D restriction in connection with the foot and mouth disease outbreak. Details of such restrictions can be found at MAFF and BBC news websites also see MAFF leaflet "How to protect your farm".

3. Welbury Parish Council is informed today 26 Feb that the road works and closure due to start today has been postponed for at least a week in view of the foot and mouth outbreak. The Parish Council's report of the meeting last Thursday is appended below.

4. Mr & Mrs Robson of Picton have a NGC access at their front gate, a few metres from the house, yet they have never been consulted by anyone about it. They own the adjoining bridleway, so we are making enquiries to see if NGC have assumed they can use it.

5. Alan Turner confirms that NGC personnel gained access against his express refusal. They climbed over a locked gate with a "no entry" notice, then refused to leave even after the police were called and asked them to leave! A report is appended below. Revolt will be consulting the police to seek eviction in future in such cases.

Appendix 1

WELBURY PARISH COUNCIL Report from R G Sharp, Clerk and Councillor Road Closures for works on behalf of National Grid Company.

Representatives from NGC and North Yorkshire County Council were requested to attend a meeting of Welbury Parish Council on Thursday 22nd February 2001 to explain why they consider it necessary to impose legal orders to close certain roads. Guy Bradbury and Stewart Grant from NGC and Geoff Fell from NYCC attended.

Orders have been made to close the road between Welbury level crossing and the junction with the road from East Harlsey to East Rounton and the road into Picton from its junction with the road from Appleton Wiske to Low Worsall. Both orders will be in force between 24th February and 2nd September 2001, a period in excess of six months. It was claimed that closure of these roads was necessary, in the interest of public safety, to allow necessary road works, prior to the construction of temporary access routes to private land to allow eventual construction of the new power line.

In the case of the Welbury road, contractors will start work on 26th February and they expect to be finished by 16th March, after which the road will be open to the public. During this time the road will be closed to through traffic, but access to affected properties will be safeguarded

Works on the Picton road were originally scheduled to be simultaneous with those at Welbury, which would have resulted in two important routes to the A19 being closed at the same time. Our visitors confessed surprise at the strength of the protests they have received to their proposal and they have changed their schedule. The Picton road will now be closed after works at Welbury have been completed. The revised schedule is for four weeks from 19th March 2001. However, it emerged that there is a further complication in that Railtrack will be closing the level crossing at Rounton Gates for up to 6 weekends from 31st March 2001.

Mr. Fell was closely questioned as to why a closure order greater than six months is seen as necessary to accommodate three to four weeks work. He replied that it was standard practice and should not cause a problem. He did accept that this notice had caused a problem and agreed that local opinion was outraged by such a draconian measure. He did not go so far as to accept an invitation to review NYCC's practice in such matters, or to improve their consultation procedure.

NGC claimed to be in the hands of both their contractor and NYCC regarding total closure of the road as against traffic management by means of traffic lights or other alternatives, and local consultation.

Both parties were reminded that, in all previous correspondence and discussion, traffic management by means of road signs, traffic lights, and traffic direction by contractors' personnel had been considered, but road closure had never been mentioned. They were left in no doubt that a closure order, issued at a late stage and with short notice, demonstrated scant respect for both local people and the public at large

An assurance was received that, although there were powers to close the roads at any or all times until next September, they would not be invoked for any future works. Neither would NGC seek closure orders for any future stages in their project, i.e. construction of temporary access points, or construction of the line itself.

If any road user encounters difficulty during the period of closure, the following telephone number will connect them with Stewart Grant's office: 01325 488 499.

Appendix 2

Report of incident at Pintail Nest, Winton on Monday 19.2.01

(based on conversations with land agent Robert Steel, Strutt and Parker, and landowner Alan Turner, of Pintail Nest)

What happened:

NGC wrote 9.2.01 (delivered 12.2.01) to Alan Turner to give notice of entry 19.2.01 for the purpose of archaeological survey. Alan Turner wrote back 12.2.01 to refuse entry on the grounds that matters such as fencing off working areas and reporting to the farm house had not been agreed by NGC. His agent Robert Steel of Strutt and Parker also sent a fax confirming that entry was refused.

At about 11.30 on 19.2.01 Charles Waite of NGC telephoned Alan Turner from the locked gate to his field to declare the NGC party was entering the land. The field gate was locked and a sign was displayed saying no entry to NGC. Alan Turner protested on the telephone and again refused entry. Charles Waite said they were going on anyway. The party climbed over the locked gate and gained entry. There were four in the party: Charles Waite and Harold Carter of NGC and two others from Northern Archaeological Associates ready to do the survey. Alan Turner contacted his agent and drove in his tractor to the field entered by the party. Robert Steel arrived shortly after.

Charles Waite denied having received the fax from the agent, but in any case ignored the agent's assurance in person that it had been sent and that entry was refused. The agent asked the party to leave but they again refused, claiming they had served notice and were entitled to be there. Alan Turner called the police. Two officers, PC128 Rick Green and Sgt808 Ben Frank, arrived and also asked the party to leave, since the landowner refused them entry. The party again refused to leave and proceeded with their work for about 2 hours in all, doing an ultrasound scan over an area about 80 metres square at the tower site. The officers, whose conduct was exemplary, said they would not get involved in a civil dispute apart from keeping the peace, and they would not evict the party.

Comment:

There are two potentially relevant powers of entry: (a) for exploration under Schedule 4 para 10 of the Electricity Act 1989 and (b) to install and keep installed an electric line under the necessary (compulsory) wayleave granted over Alan Turner's land.

It is doubtful that the exploration power would apply to an archaeological scan of a determined tower site, but even if it did it requires "14 days notice of the intended entry". The general open-ended notice served by NGC a year or more ago is not acceptable for such an entry at this time. The wayleave power is subject to the landowner's agreement to working arrangements, as spelled out by Minister Nick Raynsford in his Parliamentary Reply of 12.5.99 (Hansard col. 394). Therefore the entry was unlawful, whichever power NGC thought they were using.

This is yet another example of the provocative, arrogant and unlawful behaviour of NGC, familiar to landowners. In particular both NGC individuals have been involved in provocative behaviour before, for example Charles Waite banging the door and turning the handle and shouting "open this door" to frighten Mrs Bellerby, and Harold Carter making claims and pressing charges against James Thompson which the Crown Court strongly criticised. Complaints to NGC about these incidents were dealt with unprofessionally, simply referring them to close colleagues involved on the same project, with even Waite clearing Carter over a complaint from NFU.

Recommendations:

1. The police review the incident and consider upholding the law in future by removing NGC and contractor personnel as they are trespassing if on the land without the landowner's permission.

2. All landowners and agents to be clear (as they were on this occasion) about the limits to NGC's powers and that entry under the necessary wayleave must be with the landowner's agreement.

3. NGC review their position and give an undertaking to state under which powers they seek entry, and to comply with the relevant law. NGC should apologise to Alan Turner and Robert Steel.

4. Northern Archaeological Associate should consider their position and give an undertaking not to enter land without the landowner's permission, and to withdraw if the landowner so requests. NAA should also apologise to Alan Turner and Robert Steel.

 Mike O'Carroll

 

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