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Revolt Newsletter 91


1. DST 6.7.01 scooped the first post-election interview with William Hague, who says he will concentrate on local issues, including the pylons. To quote: "we have to see if we can put any final spoke in the wheel of the pylons. We have tried everything and it is hard to think of anything more one can do about it. I don't hold out much hope of stopping it but it is still a local issue." The DST leader mentions it too, as "the hated pylons project". As it would ruin the quality of life for some, as well as the value of their homes, without any compensation whatsoever, no wonder it is hated. My letter to DST in reply is appended below.

2. The Northern Echo 7.7.01 included a letter from Hugh Pender defending Margaret Beckett. My reply to the Echo is also appended below. If the pylons project is hated, Margaret Beckett will be reviled for her careless and flawed consent decision of 26.3.98.

3. In a reply to Anne McIntosh MP, Brian Wilson, the new Minister of State for Energy and Industry, confirms that NGC works, including highways works, have been delayed by FMD. He says the company will be looking to start when the situation improves sufficiently, and that they will consult DEFRA (formerly MAFF) and NYCC first. Meanwhile, FMD has extended southwards along the route, from Picton and East Harlsey now down to Kepwick, Cowesby, Kirby Knowle and Boltby near Thirsk.

4. From the old government structure before the election: DETR announced 18 wind farm developments of 30 turbines each around British coasts, with the lease of the seabed from Crown Estates, though they must now begin the planning process. Most are clustered off Lancashire and East Anglia, with just one off Teesside. That would imply less than 100 MW off Teesside, compared with 1870 MW already at TPL and over 1000 MW closed at Blyth, so it wouldn't make a material impact on the case for the Yorkshire powerline. See http://www.offshorewindfarms.co.uk 

5. Still pre-election news: Energy Minister Peter Hain issued new guidelines for power station consents, requiring them to show serious consideration of CHP. See http://www.dti.gov.uk/energy/consents 

6. Congratulations to NYCC legal services, named as public sector legal team of the year in The Lawyer newspaper's annual award scheme. They are also NYCC's main point of contact for the pylons issue. We will see them with an even greater glow of admiration. It won't deter us from arguing about inadequate highways notices, mind!

7. There are reports of DEFRA (and its predecessor MAFF) giving farmers a hard time, particularly over contiguous culling which some say requires the farmer's agreement, whereas officials try to tell farmers they have no option. Shades of DTI and NGC? REVOLT does not have a position on FMD, but has been contacted by the National Foot and Mouth Group which supports farmers under pressure from officials. For details try http://www.warmwell.com or email valsinclair@ukonline.co.uk .

8. Hambleton planning committee meets Thursday 12 July. No NGC items are scheduled.

Appendix 1: letter to Northern Echo


Hugh Pender's defence of Margaret Beckett (HAS 7 July) will cut little ice in North Yorkshire.

It was Margaret Beckett as Secretary of State for Trade and Industry who on 26 March 1998 consented to the unnecessary National Grid line of giant pylons from Picton to Shipton. It still hasn't been built, by the way.

Beckett's consent letter was careless and flawed. She had ignored material technical representations put to her department since the various inquiries closed. Another example of Whitehall arrogance.

The Lackenby - Picton line is not opposed in principle by REVOLT, now that it is conditional on the removal of the 275 kV line in Teesside and a substantial part is to be underground. But the Picton - Shipton line is unnecessary and still strenuously opposed. Margaret Beckett will be reviled for it here.


Appendix 2: letter to DST


Congratulations on your well deserved scoop of the Hague interview last week. Good to see William favouring the local paper.

Your leader said "even the hated pylons project will come under his fresh gaze and although he says there is little that can be done realistically to halt their eventual construction, it's clearly a matter he thinks worth pursuing".

What can be done is to keep the pressure on National Grid (a) to act properly according to the law and (b) to relent and scrap the Picton - Shipton line.

REVOLT does not oppose the Lackenby - Picton line in principle, now that it is conditional upon the removal of the existing 275 kV line in Teesside and that a substantial part is to be undergrounded. The Picton - Shipton line remains unnecessary and unmitigated, and is worth opposing still.

National Grid has continually short-cut the law by taking access on farm land without due process. In the latest incident at Pintail Nest off the A684 at Winton, Grid personnel entered over a locked gate against the express refusal of the farmer, and then refused to leave when requested by the farmer, then by the land agent from Strutt and Parker, then by a police officer whom the farmer had called out. Whereas REVOLT's express advice is to obey the police, National Grid's practice is to disobey them.

That incident is being pursued by REVOLT and the NFU solicitors. We do hope that William Hague will support us, especially as NGC obtained support from a DTI official which contradicts the position of DETR (as was) set out in a parliamentary answer by minister Nick Raynsford.

It is important to keep National Grid to the proper procedures, as well as to press for the Picton - Shipton line to be abandoned. There is still a long way to go on the question of access, both with local authorities on access from roads and with landowners, whose agreement is required to access on private land.


Mike O'Carroll

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