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Revolt Newsletter 90

06/07/2001


1. An international expert panel convened in France last month by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has concluded that power-frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are possible human carcinogens. That agrees with the 1998 verdict of an expert group convened by the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

2. Warmest congratulations to objectors in Donegal to a planned 100 km, 110 kV power line there. It has been rejected by the Irish planning board, following public inquiries last December. I appeared for objectors at the inquiries, challenging the technical engineering case in detail and giving summative evidence on health. Roger Coghill and others gave detailed evidence on health. The inspector's report was published 5 July. A report appeared in The Irish Independent 3 July, see http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/ 

3. The deadline has passed for representations to the Planning Inspectorate on NGC's appeal against Hambleton's rejection of the three access applications at Kirby Sigston. I had written to the Inspectorate on 24 May, and added final submissions on 5 July, as appended below in plain text.

4. NGC General Counsel and Company Secretary Alison Kay has responded to my letter 12.5.01 about the incident at Pintail Nest, where NGC and Northern Archaeology Associates personnel entered Alan Turner's land over a locked gate against his express refusal of permission, and then refused to leave when asked to do so by Alan, then by his agent from Strutt and Parker, then by the police. Alison Kay's letter tries to deny the need for NGC to have landowner's agreement to access routes, and she has obtained a letter of support from DTI civil servant Lawrence Cadman, contrary to the DETR advice which has the status of Nick Raynsford's parliamentary reply. However, Alison Kay's and Lawrence Cadman's case is seriously flawed, as I show in my reply of 5.7.01 which is appended below in plain text.

5. The NFU is taking up the case of NGC's unlawful entry at Pintail Nest. I shall be meeting with Peter Edmonds and the NFU lawyers next week.

Appendix: submission 5.7.01 to the Planning Inspectorate.

Garden House Welbury, Northallerton DL6 2SE tel/fax 01609 882 501

5 July 2001

Mr T Mather The Planning Inspectorate Temple Quay House, 2 The Square Temple Quay Bristol BS1 6PN

Dear Mr Mather,

National Grid Company plc Planning Application in respect of Temporary Access at Kirby Sigston Hambleton DC Applications 2/99/500/0092A, 2/99/085/0044 and 2/99/085/0045 National Grid access references A34-36, A37 and A38

Appeal References APP/G2713/A/01/1064910 - 12

Further to my letter of 24 May and telephone call today, I would be grateful if you would accept that letter and enclosures, together with the additional points in this letter and enclosures, as my submissions in respect of the above appeals.

I have attempted to contact your office previously by telephone, which wasn't working, and have sent an email message, but I have received no reply nor acknowledgement to the message or to my letter of 24 May.

I would be grateful if you would take account of all the documentation of objections to the planning application, including generic submissions from REVOLT and my specific submissions on these three applications.

In respect of these appeals, it should be noted that incidents have occurred in this area arising from the sensitivity of this project. In one incident, National Grid wayleave officer had intimidated farmer's wife Mrs Bellerby at Sigston Castle Farm, by banging on her door, trying the handle and shouting "open this door". Mrs Bellerby received a written apology from the Chairman of National Grid, and Superintendent Paul Gregory of North Yorkshire Police wrote a letter to Mr Guy Bradbury 19.3.99 warning National Grid as to its conduct.

This sort of behaviour by National Grid employees compounds the problems exemplified in the incident at Pintail Nest, as mentioned in my letter of 24 May. Since then, National Grid has sought to dismiss the incident and claim unfettered access rights, which I refute in my reply of 5 July to the NGC Company Secretary (herewith).

Comments on NGC's Statement 1, regarding application 500/0092A, with reference to NGC's paragraphs:

1.1 The necessary wayleave does not determine nor imply specific access arrangements, although it would imply such access as is reasonably necessary to install and keep installed the line. Details of the access should also be agreed with the landowner, as made clear in a parliamentary reply of minister Nick Raynsford on 12.5.99 (as detailed in my enclosures).

1.2 Local consultations have been extremely deficient. Principally they consisted of a public relations exercise in which NGC made presentations to parish council meetings. In key cases the meetings were cut short leaving many questions unanswered. NGC's presentations and lack of information were strongly criticised by professional engineers in the audience. NGC promised to make further specific information available yet failed to do so.

1.9 The response to the tree planting condition was criticised by the local authority and it failed to meet the terms of the condition (to ensure replacement) because it depended on uncompensated forfeit of lands (a flaw which could be easily remedied). Secretary of State did consent to the scheme, but it was unreasonable to do so.

2.1 The necessary wayleaves do not confer rights to access which NGC may unilaterally decide. The thrust of the parliamentary reply of 12.5.99 shows that the landowner's convenience is paramount, not NGC's.

2.3 The landowner claims that there is no existing access at the relevant site.

2.9 There is an alternative to use the access from the A684 which provides access for the adjacent towers to the north, which could be extended southwards along the line to access the towers now in question. The company has failed to show an evaluation of this option, which would entirely avoid the need for access A34-36 from the road at Kirby Sigston.

3.1 It is improper to circumvent the proper planning process for the alternative smaller access. That should be referred to Hambleton DC and not determined by the inspectorate.

4.1 NGC claim that the access proposal which is the subject of appeal, that is the larger one, is necessary and reasonable, yet they also suggest the smaller alternative in 3.1. This shows that the larger access is not necessary, since the smaller one would suffice for NGC.

4.2 NGC's original application for two adjacent accesses does seem excessive, and perhaps reflects the common planning tactic of dishonestly making an excessive proposal in order to make the reduced proposal appear more attractive.

4.6 NGC's claim is manifestly false. The alternative of working along the line from access from the A684 was not answered. REVOLT has repeatedly raised this general question, which NGC has blatantly ignored. Public consultations have been very inadequate and public satisfaction has not been reached on these points.

4.8 See comments to 3.1 and 4.1.

I would be grateful if you would accept the above comments in relation to NGC's Statements 2 and 3, where appropriate. In Statement 3, for the access to the south of the road, the alternative of working along the line, avoiding the entire 10km one way traffic on small and dangerous roads, has simply not been evaluated, despite repeated requests.

There is now a further new point of concern. So much new detail and local impact has emerged with NGC's access proposals, which were not adequately considered either at the public inquiries or at the wayleave hearings, that this constitutes a substantial omission from the formal environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the project. EU Directive 97/11/EC determines the nature and content of EIAs, which must assess the whole project. While it would be simpler for the inspectorate to consider fragments in isolation, that does negate the principle of the Directive. The question should be asked as to whether the company should procure an extended EIA to cover all the new additions to the project and their aggregate effect. REVOLT has called in vain for the local authorities to assess the cumulative impact of all the access proposals, including their combined traffic impacts on local villages. Instead they have been sought, and decided, piecemeal.

Yours sincerely,

Professor M J O'Carroll

cc by email: Hambleton DC Hammond Suddards Edge

enclosure: letter 5.7.01 to NGC Company Secretary Alison Kay

3

Appendix 2: reply 5.7.01 to Alison Kay.

Garden House Welbury, Northallerton DL6 2SE tel/fax 01609 882 501

5 July 2001

by email to  Alison B Kay General Counsel and Company Secretary National Grid Company plc

Dear Ms Kay, Lackenby-Picton-Shipton Overhead Transmission Line Incident at Pintail Nest, Winton, 19.2.01

Thank you for your letter of 21 June in response to my letter of 12 May to David Mercer.

I profoundly disagree with you. Further, your company's views which your have secured in writing from Lawrence Cadman of the DTI are logically flawed and most unreasonable, as I will show. It is a pity Mr Cadman has reflected your views back to you, seemingly uncritically, and certainly without consulting me as the complainant. This is very poor practice on his part in dealing with complaints.

You refer to a small number of landowners who have been unwilling to discuss the proposed access routes. That is not relevant to the incident in question. Mr Turner had been in contact with your company through his agents Strutt and Parker to discuss a range of relevant matters. Your company failed to discuss the matters to his satisfaction. Your company's representatives failed to respond to requests to leave from the professional agents and from the police. It is very misleading of you to cast the incident in the light of other landowners not wishing to communicate.

You have distorted the position on access rights beyond fairness and reason. The company requires the landowner's agreement, as confirmed in the parliamentary reply of Nick Raynsford to which I referred. If that agreement is not achieved, it is not for the company alone to say whether it has been unreasonably withheld. The company may seek access through the courts, which will then decide what access is reasonably necessary.

The same applies whether the failure to reach agreement is due to the landowner's unreasonable intransigence, or the company's, or to a reasonable disagreement. If the company were able to determine that unilaterally, and thus to take access as it proposed in spite of the landowner's disagreement, then that would entirely negate and frustrate the requirement for agreement.

You use a false argument to claim that "to interpret the necessary wayleave in any other way (than yours) would of course mean that it is of little value", since there is little need to resort to a necessary (compulsory) wayleave where agreement can be reached. The first glaring error in this argument is to confuse the two different matters of the wayleave and the access.

The wayleave fixes the position of the line and towers, consent having only fixed a corridor. Access matters were considered only in outline at the wayleave hearings, and have changed radically since then. Very misleading information was given by the company in response to questions about the weight of vehicles and number of trips, suggesting there would be only some 12 return trips per pylon. Details given later in planning applications for verge crossings for access from public roads were very different, showing typically over 200 return trips per pylon. The access arrangements your company now seeks are much more than the wayleave applications to install and keep installed an electric line in a particular position.

The second glaring error in your argument, as reflected in Mr Cadman's letter, is pressing the idea that requiring landowners' agreement to access arrangements would run counter to the implication of the necessary wayleave, while disregarding the idea that not to require it would contradict the minister's reply. Both the necessary wayleave and the minister's reply can be respected, by recognising that access arrangements are not adequately covered in the necessary wayleave, and that the requirement for landowners' agreement is to be kept within reason (and not determined unilaterally by one party).

Mr Cadman should be assured that this is not a case of two bites at the same cherry. These are different cherries. It is wrong to say "The landowner has had his opportunity (in the wayleave hearing) to refuse to give access ...".

You seriously misrepresent me when you refer to my "statement that landowners may apply reasonable force in ejecting persons who are lawfully on their property". I made no such statement. As advised by the police, reasonable force may be applied where persons are unlawfully on the property and refuse to leave, though we would much rather the police did the ejecting. I repeat, your team at Pintail Nest did not act in accordance with your legal rights and furthermore did not act in a professional and responsible manner, given the sensitive circumstances. It is a bit rich for you now to accuse me of being inflammatory.

You might consider apologising to the professional land agent and the police officer whom your people disobeyed. Revolt's express advice has been clear, to obey the police. You have taken the opposite position, to disobey the police. I suggest you re-examine your position, and desist from your continual distortion, deception and aggression. You have no need to adopt such a belligerent approach, as manifest in the incident at Pintail Nest and in your letter to me, as well as in numerous other instances. It is difficult to see how such an approach can be in your company's best interests.

Yours sincerely,

Mike O'Carroll

cc David Mercer, NGC Leeds; Stewart Grant, Grant Sterling Richard Fraser, Northern Archaeology Associates Alan Turner, Pintail Nest; Robert Steel, Strutt and Parker Superintendent David Short, North Yorkshire Police Peter Edmonds, NFU Northallerton

Mike O'Carroll

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