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REVOLT Powerline Concerns Health Hazards Need UK Energy Policy

Response to

Countryside Commission consultative paper
CCP 470 April 1995

Countryside Commission consultative paper CCP 470 April 1995
Quality of Countryside: Quality of Life Response from Professor  M J O' Carroll 27.4.95

 1.) The Paper and its general direction toward quality of life through thriving countryside are welcomed.

2.) The longer term view is central to sustainability. The Paper makes reference to the three year horizon of Countryside Commission's corporate plan; it is right t consider a much longer horizon for policy making and for assessing proposals. Economic developments are too often focussed on the short term with scant regard to decommissioning.

3.) The five challenges are broad enough, with flexible interpretation, to cover almost all relevant matters, yet they are also all important. A possible sixth challenge:

to control and reduce the adverse impact of extraneous activities on the countryside

intersects the others but may not be wholly accommodated by them in so far as it calls for negotiation with other authorities. Examples I have in mind all require a reasonable balance to be struck:

- military: low flying Jets;

- water: speedboats and other powered recreation;

- transport: excessive national and global movement of goods.

Points 3.20 - 3.23 of the Paper concentrate on local transport matters so do not clearly address this last example. I would favour making 3.23 commitment.

4.) The reference to reducing the impact of powerlines in 3.28 is welcomed. I would urge that this be adopted as a definite objective. There has been a large volume of public opinion supporting this idea. Many thousands have signed petitions against new developments in several part of the UK. A national network STOP (Stop The Overhead Powerlines) was initiated at a conference of these groups in Ayr last year and I was elected as its chairman.

Section 4.5 of its policy statement reads:

"We will press for the monitoring and publication of data on the total amount of existing and planned overhead powerlines, and for set t in targets for its progressive reduction."

This would seem to accord with the Countryside Commission's mission and is perhaps a role which the Countryside Commission could take on. The Position Statement CCP 454 last year went some considerable way towards this; I refer also to my response of 19.8.94 t it. I draw attention also to the commentary to Objective 21 of the 1995 CL paper Towards a Rural Policy.

5.) Still in the area of energy policy and supporting point 4 above, the trend towards remote generation, as explained in the accompanying article from Electrical Review Vol 228 No 7 p62, is damaging to the countryside in respect of power station siting, energy waste and excessive transmission. refer again to the CLA paper Towards a Rural Policy. In pursuing 3.25 the Countryside Commission should determine to advise against consenting to surplus power station remote from areas of demand.

6.) Point 4.19 of the Paper addresses access to the countryside for disabled people. This should be a commitment under the objective of widening opportunities on the basis that the barriers to be removed are not limited to information and understanding.

7.) The promotion of greenways (4.2 and the box on page 19) should become a commitment. Furthermore the intrusion of powered vehicles into quiet countryside and open hillside should be resisted. Off roaders are to expensive to be a general means of widening access; they are likely to be the privilege of the few, and can be a menace. Motorcycles are more widely available but can be equally intrusive. It would however be reasonable to admit quiet electric vehicles for disabled people.

8.) Finally, a reservation. There is a danger of promoting access to the countryside beyond adequate supporting levels of facility, transport and understanding. It is important to ensure that infrastructure, facilities, information and education are in place ahead of the volume of access they are needed to support. While I approve of educational programmed wit schools, I fear that over-zealous or uncoordinated promotion, particularly commercial promotion for the motoring public, may saturate and damage a delicate environment. Therefore I would not advance points 4.17 and 4.18 a this time.

M J O' Carroll 27.4.95

Points 4 and 5 above are made on behalf of two organisations of which I am chairman:

REVOLT: Rural England Versus Overhead Line Transmission, and

STOP: Stop The Overhead Powerlines, a UK-wide campaign network.

Other points are personal submissions.

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