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REVOLT Powerline Concerns Health Hazards Need UK Energy Policy

Press Releases

July 1998




The National Grid Group (NGG) holds its Annual General Meeting in Birmingham on Friday 24 July, and has published its Annual Report for 1997/98 in anticipation. Its main holding - the National Grid Company - is responsible for the proposal to vandalise the landscape of North Yorkshire and Cleveland with a 50 mile line of 229 giant pylons - Pylons which REVOLT says are not necessary. National Grid has not been able to convince the public of their need.

The National Grid is a privatised monopoly. The madness of this privatised leviathan is that it benefits from excessive transmission, whether needed or not. Excessive transmission wastes energy and ruins our environment. The profit from this madness is reaped by shareholders, most of them blissfully unaware of the unnecessary damage about to be caused. REVOLT wants NGG shareholders to face up to this madness carried out in their name. There is a better way.


Most ordinary NGG shareholder don't receive the full Annual Report. What they get - is an Annual Review - a glossy public relations brochure aimed at comforting shareholders that whilst NGG are making huge profits they are also investing in an environmentally friendly, community sensitive business. The experience of people in communities near to the proposed new line of giant pylons is that this glossy-cuddly-friendly image of National Grid could not be further from the truth.

NGG last year made profits before tax of £574.8   millions - a greedy 35.7% (Yes, over thirty-five percent!) of Group turnover. National Grid's greedy track record has been severely criticised by OFFER, the electricity industry regulator. The new pylons proposals are driven by this same voracious greed.


Who are major beneficiaries of NGG's 'success'? Why, the 9 Directors of course! Last year they cleared almost £1.7million between them, and this excluded any future profits arising from share options and ownership. The Chief Executive, David Jones, received over £350,000. It doesn't seem to appear in this year's Annual Review, but last year the maximum bonus for Executive Directors was raised to 40% of base salary. So, it appears there is a most powerful connection - not just electrical - between forcing through the 229 huge pylons and the future pay of the 4 Executive Directors. Can ordinary local people expect to be dealt with fairly in this situation? Not surprising that some landowners are being offered scandalously high inducements to accept pylons willingly on their land - which much to their great credit most continue to refuse


Keeping up with cutting edge technology? Don't be fooled - last year NGG spent the miserly sum of  £7.8million on R&D - that's barely more than l% of its gross profits. It's clearly more profitable for NGG to build more pylons and transmit more power inefficiently and with possible health risks than it is to improve the effectiveness of its technology - overhead or underground. Why become more effective when you can make a killing with the old methods?


Another glossy claim in NGUs Annual Review: "... we rely on public acceptance of our transmission assets so that we can operate effectively. Our position is therefore not just an ethical one........ by building positive relationships with local communities and environmental groups, we can better explain the need for the transmission system... " Far from building positive relationships,

National Grid has enraged local communities in North Yorkshire. Will NGG stop hiding behind the pretence that they are now carrying out some sort of democratic decision? The public enquiries were called 'a shambles and a sham.'


REVOLT wants to extend the debate to inform more NGG shareholders of the true position. It is planning a visit of its members to the National Grid's Annual General Meeting.

REVOLT asks members and others to take action immediately and telephone 01845 537443 to take part in the visit to the National Grid Group Annual General Meeting in Birmingham on Friday 24 July.

If they are willing to attend the National Grid Group AGM on 24 July Transport being arranged for REVOLT supporters.

If they already own shares and will offer to go to the meeting or nominate another person (as a proxy) to attend on their behalf

If they want to obtain a single NGG share for £5 to influence National Grid as a shareholder.

EMBARGO 16.7.98                 REVOLT                       13.7.98


Judicial Review

North Yorkshire County Council is to withdraw from the judicial review of Margaret Beckett’s decision to consent most of the Lackenby-Picton-Shipton powerline. REVOLT has supported the local authorities in their application for a judicial review on the basis that it was on legal advice so that public money would not be put at undue risk. Now it seems legal opinion is more doubtful, so the withdrawal is understood, although REVOLT would press for a second opinion to be sought.

The judicial process is very limited and fails to provide the public with adequate redress, since there is no facility for appeal against a consent decision under the Electricity Act. The withdrawal at this stage is a legal stale-mate, since it is now too late for a judicial review to be started by REVOLT. We have no doubt that Margaret Beckett’s decision is wrong, flies in the face of emerging government energy policy, fails to address the question of need for the line adequately (as the public inquiry inspectors also failed to do), and completely bungles the issue of the false financial information which threw the public inquiries.

The public objectors have no confidence in the formal proceedings and inquiries, which have been a catalogue of errors and bungles, with very serious misinformation materially affecting the outcome. They were described as a shambles and a sham, though the inspectors failed to report it. REVOLT has represented public concerns through the formal processes and will continue to do so over the many unresolved issues yet to be decided. But as the shambles continues, public anger is more likely to bring direct action to the fore. While REVOLT has sought to avoid direct action as far as possible, its strategy includes political persuasion, which continues behind the scenes, and maximum resistance within the law.

Now on a brighter note …

Schoolkids protest

Class 3 at Knayton Primary School have written individual letters of protest to Energy Minister John Battle about the proximity of the proposed power lines, following class discussion about the pylons. Teachers have steered the discussion away from potentially frightening health issues and concentrated on the environmental aspects after consulting REVOLT.

Hardly surprisingly, local children are well aware of the pylon problem, with nearly every parent’s car sporting "stop the giant pylons" stickers. Today’s playground ditty goes "Mary had a little lamb/ she tied it to a pylon/ ten thousand volts shot through its fleece/ and turned it into nylon".

Lyke Wake Race 11.7.98

The famous Lyke Wake Walk traverses 42 miles of remote countryside across the North York Moors. The annual Lyke Wake Race is held each summer over the same route. A handicap system gives runners a staggered start so as to make an exciting finish. Last year’s winner, REVOLT Chairman Mike O’Carroll, 58, completed his sponsored run in this year’s race finishing third in 9 hours 24 minutes, raising over £100 for REVOLT.



Revolt has got wired up and joined the information super highway. You can now reach us on the internet at:- http://www.revolt.co.uk. The website has all the latest press releases. The protest song "Better Way" by Nicco, is down-loadable, besides archive material and world wide links to other web sites concerned with health fears, environmental pollution and all the other problems associated with high voltage power transmission. Much is immediately available and more is under construction with items being added on a regular basis - so bookmark it now! Webweaver volunteers, rik_royall@revolt.co.uk and Steve Hackett of tecnoserve@aol.com have done a superb job getting the web site up and running.


REVOLT volunteers are mounting an exhibition at the Zillah Bell Gallery in Kirkgate, Thirsk, from 1.00 pm on Tuesday 28 July to Tuesday 4 August. It will include a display of maps, photographic and other materials. The exhibition will provide the public with a local focus and detailed information about the proposed route of the giant pylons - to help people to oppose it. All are welcome. After its opening week the REVOLT exhibition will be available to village groups and others through its organiser, Sarah Costley 01845 522225, Janet Attkins 01609 882209 or Ann and Peter Johnson


Regular users of the A19 can't fail to see the huge improvement made to the large tank on the opposite side to Mount Grace Priory - visible northbound most of the way down the hill from the Osmotherley/Northallerton junction. Two willing volunteers with strong feelings have brought the slurry tank into battle. It is now decorated with a striking (view photo)Yellow and Black REVOLT anti-pylon symbol. Not as ugly, though, as the massive pylons to be visible in the area if National Grid have their way. A timely reminder to all who travel the A19 to redouble their efforts and actively oppose the pylons. Tom Bell will tell you more and provide a photo-opportunity, together with REVOLT activists.


CONTACTS for REVOLT : Peter Johnson   Prof. Mike O'Carroll 01609 882501

EXHIBITION: Sarah Costley 01845 522225  Zillah Bell Gallery 01845 522479





True to their promise, a band of REVOLT members visited the National Grid Group's Annual General Meeting of shareholders on Friday 24 July at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham to put their points against the proposed 50 mile long 400Kv transmission line with 229 huge pylons proposed to scar the landscape of Cleveland and North Yorkshire. Led by Ann and Peter Johnson (tel: 01845 537443) they took with them the votes of many members and supporters who hold shares in the National Grid Group as part of their battle to get a change in mind about the alleged need for this transmission line.


Given the millions of votes cast by the financial institutions with shares in National Grid this was a true David and Goliath exercise carried out by REVOLT. They stood no chance of changing the overall voting at the meeting and knew this from the outset. Success did come to them, though, in taking up most of the two and a half hour meeting in putting their case to the hundreds of shareholders present and in gleaning information about National Grid's future intentions. Even the electricity magnate National Grid Group Chairman, David Jeffries, had to concede in his closing remarks that the five REVOLT members who addressed the meeting did so in a "professional way" and that individual REVOLT members clearly had a good knowledge of the issues.

REVOLT now respond by saying, "From our knowledge of the situation we remain convinced that the case for the new line has everything to do with National Grid's future profits and little to do with NGG's claim that it is essential to secure the nation's future electricity supply."



A list of some issues put by REVOLT to the National Grid Board at the meeting, and earlier, is available direct from REVOLT - see CONTACTS at end of Release. When questioned, NGG Board members said that they still intended to start constructing the line before the end of the year, for completion in 2001. They said it would still go ahead, even given the potential imminent closure of Blyth A and Blyth B power stations, about which they said they had no knowledge.



In view of this, REVOLT put forward a constructive suggestion to the NGG Board that they should agree to investigate jointly the possibility of a Millennium Project to develop a state-of-the-art superconducting underground cable in place of the overhead line, together with a world research centre on Teesside to put them to the fore of this important emerging and energy-saving technology. This was turned down point blank by the NGG Chairman who admitted that they were themselves currently not even involved in such research and that their Research and Development budget was only £7.8m, representing barely 1% of the Group's gross profits. There was, though, success for REVOLT on a second suggestion ......



This was put forward by Peter Johnson on behalf of REVOLT, that the NGG Board should meet with leading objectors to the transmission line, before the end of August, to hear their concerns and to explore a better way forward. This was accepted by David Jeffries, National Grid's Chairman. His personal acceptance was subject to conditions on associated publicity arrangements which REVOLT will now request in detail from him. Subject to agreement on the conditions being set by NGG it is hoped that such a meeting will proceed. REVOLT will use the proposed meeting to continue to try to find a better way forward than the building of the 229 pylons.



For REVOLT, James Smith, a resident from a village affected by the pylons asked what compensation National Grid was planning to offer those living near the line who were not landowners. Also, what apologies did they intend to give to them and the many others who live in and use the area between the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors for inspiration and recreation. As expected, no offers were forthcoming. This contrasted hugely, said Mr Smith, with the inducements - one he had heard of personally of over £50,000 - for those who were willing to agree to a pylon on their land. Although many shareholders' eyes opened wide at this amount the National Grid Board refused repeatedly to confirm or deny any such figures.

National Grid Chairman, David Jeffries, clearly bristled at the accusation that their representative had said that a bigger pylon would be built for one of the objectors. He agreed that any threats in future should be brought to the attention of Roger Urwin, Managing Director for Transmission, who would investigate them.



A mother with a daughter who had suffered from leukaemia - happily now cured - stated that they already lived close to an existing overhead line and were now threatened with one of the giant pylons right next door to her house. She asked the National Grid Board directly, "What price do you place on a child's life?"

She informed shareholders at the meeting of the recent conclusions of the international panel of experts set up in the USA by the National Institute of Health Sciences that electrical and magnetic field surrounding pylons should be regarded as a "possible human carcinogen". And received "assurances" only that older British standards - but not the new international safety levels* - were being adhered to in respect of electric fields for the construction of the proposed transmission line. She asked, "Does the Board see comparisons with the denial of uncertain risk from other hazards such as BSE and CJD - which have then become acknowledged as risks with serious and costly effects on industry, and would the Board see the danger ... of pursuing denial too far and ignoring respectable advice that there is a possible but unproven risk?" David Jeffries, Board Chairman, reiterated that the new line was being built within the British (not international) standards and he said that National Grid would "talk through the evidence with anyone living close to the lines." An invitation not to be missed?

(*International Committee on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection levels)

List of Questions Raised at National Grid Group AGM


For REVOLT: Peter Johnson (01845) 537443  email: peter-j@hnson.fslife.co.uk 

James Smith (01845) 537385



"This exhibition, brings the facts to the communities affected by the line of huge pylons - but not only facts. Also on display are beautiful photographs of the fine landscapes to be ruined by National Grid's folly, if they force their proposals through." So said Professor Mike O'Carroll, Chairman of REVOLT, at the exhibition's opening on Tuesday lunchtime. It is presented by volunteers from REVOLT led by Sarah Costley, at the ZILLAH BELL GALLERY in Kirkgate, THIRSK. The opening was attended by many REVOLT supporters and actively encourages those in villages and towns affected to continue their battle against the pylons. REMINDER: exhibition open from 10 am to 5 pm until Tues 4 Aug.


REVOLT supporters are taking their message to many of the local shows in the area of the proposed line of pylons. Already, there have been stalls at West Rounton, and today -put on by active members of the Women's Institute - at the Ryedale show. Tomorrow (Wednesday) there will be a stall at the Borrowby Show - with information about how the pylons affect the local area and what people are still doing to oppose them. Keep your eyes open for the Osmotherley Show on 1st August and the Welbury Show on 8th August. Relevant local material and from the exhibition will be on view. Also available for other exhibitions from August and September onwards.


Last week BBC Radio York surprised and puzzled landowners by reporting that National Grid had "reached agreement with almost all" of them, whereas they know that almost all have refused agreements and most have had compulsory powers imposed against their will. Landowners support the policy of non-co-operation within the law to make things as difficult as possible for National Grid if they try to build the pylons. It seems BBC Radio York misinterpreted National Grid's message that almost all of the wayleaves had been granted. It was NOT by agreement!

The facts are that initially over 100 wayleaves were sought and a small minority were agreed by landowners such as ICI. Almost all resident farmers refused, so that NGC had to apply to the Secretary of State for compulsory powers for 93 wayleaves. Of these 77 were finally granted in March this year, while 6 were deferred, 9 were rejected and 1 was omitted in error, which was no surprise as the whole proceedings were regarded as a sham and a shambles full of errors. It is regrettable that BBC Radio York may have been used as an instrument to influence farmers in sensitive negotiations which NGC are seeking to press, by trying to demoralise them, though it may only make them even more angry and indignant."


REVOLT has received the recent government reshuffle news of Peter Mandelson's elevation to Secretary of State for Trade and Industry with great interest. The fourth Secretary of State to be involved in the decision over 8 years. Michael Heseltine, Ian Lang, Margaret Beckett, and now Peter Mandelson. Will his roots as MP for Hartlepool give him more sympathy with local views? Will his new mind on the issues be able to see through some of the false arguments put forward so far in support of the pylons? Or, will big business and civil servants have their hold over Secretary of State Peter Mandelson, too? REVOLT will be raising all of the issues with him in the coming weeks, in great detail, and trying - hopefully with his support - to get sense to prevail by stopping the destruction of our area by these huge, monstrous pylons.


Peter Johnson (01845) 537443 peter-j@hnson.fslife.co.uk 

(Latter also Borrowby Show Photo-Opportunity)

EXHIBITION & PHOTOS Sarah Costley (01845) 522225

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