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Revolt Newsletter 79


1. Friends in Iceland ... a landowner writes opposing a 440kV line there. Also the Sunday Times article on health effects generated media interest from as far as Canada (John Gray at the Globe and Mail, Toronto) and Douglas Herbert for CNN and Time Magazine.

2. At a NYCC planning meeting last week it was revealed NGC sought to restart work on Tuesday 6.3.01, having stopped it for the foot and mouth outbreak. Thankfully NYCC said no. All work on the line and associated road works is stopped because of the outbreak, and is likely to remain stopped for some weeks.

3. Back in 1998 the Archbishop of York spoke out against the pylons. Then last year, in the face of the dry weather condition on NGC, was as wet as anyone can remember. Now when NGC try to start roadworks, foot and mouth breaks out. Is this divine intervention? Planning consent expires in March 2003, so if the line is not built by then they are in trouble. New evidence and energy policy developments ought to persuade government not to grant extension. Even if the line were erected, it is open for review and removal after March 2003.

4. Vale of York Libdem PPC Greg Stone has issued a press release calling for a buffer zone between powerlines and homes, following NRPB's admission of an association with childhood leukaemia. He mentions a German report also published 5.3.01 confirming a link between night-time exposure and leukaemia (which fits in with the melatonin hypothesis).

5. Prof Denis Henshaw has completed a risk assessment for a government department on the wider health effects of powerlines, including not only leukaemia but other more widespread illnesses which have been researched, such as depression. The total effect on these illnesses amounts to much more than the rare diseases like leukaemia. Although the impacts are not yet certain, there is suggestive evidence making the assessment deserve consideration. The predicted excess cases per annum include 2 to 8 leukaemia, 250 to 400 lung cancer, up to 9,000 mild depression, plus a few thousand cases of other illness. Most of the powerlines research has concentrated on cancer, especially leukaemia, so it is important not to ose sight of the bigger picture.

6. With mixed sadness and admiration we report belatedly the death on 19 December of Major Andrew Gibbs MBE TD, who lived at Kilvington Hall and was such a staunch objector to the pylons. He appeared several times on television to oppose National Grid's development. His sons are looking to sell the Hall, but keep up their opposition to the pylons with full support for Revolt.

7. I have written to the Local Government Association to press the point for local authorities to be given discretion to adopt precautionary policies regarding powerlines (eg to restrict new house building under existing lines), in the light of the new NRPB report.

8. NGC has applied to Stockton Borough for planning permission to modify the existing farm access road at White Hall Farm, Yarm, close to the "Middleton Gap". Objections should be received by 27 March. Revolt does not object in principle to the Lackenby-Picton line so does not plan to object to this access.

9. Having received this week's full NRPB report and press release, I will write a summary and commentary in a separate email news. In short the NRPB has the same position in principle as in its 1994 report. The statistical association is accepted and the possibility (but not proof) of cause of cancer is recognised. There is ample scope for dismissive spin, which we already seeing. More about that later!

10. Just one example of dismissive spin: Clive Cookson's short piece for Financial Times 7.3.01. He says "high voltage power lines were largely exonerated ... but some suspicion fell instead on local electrical wiring in the home". Wrong - they are both implicated. He says the NRPB "reviewed all the scientific evidence about the health effects ...". Wrong - the report is restricted to cancer, with just passing mention of some other diseases in para 15. (The first 1992 Doll Report was similarly restricted to cancer.) He says "it concluded ... exposure ... might be associated ...". Wrong - the report accepts it is associated, but not that it is a cause. He mentions that of 500 UK leakaemia cases per year only 2 would be associated with emf (true!) but omits to say that this is because few people are exposed and those that are double their annual risk of leukaemia "from about 1 in 20,000 to 1 in 10,000".

Mike O'Carroll


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