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23 June 1999 SPOTLIGHT PRESS RELEASE NO 25
As is now widely known, in typically bungling fashion the National Grid's planning application for the controversial Yorkshire power line, omitted a section of the line at Middleton on Leven. The National Grid is currently jumping through hoops trying to obtain the necessary consents to bridge the 'Middleton Gap'.
Spanner in works
Protesters will be delighted to learn that enterprising local farmers M & T Pye of Rigel Pedigree Ltd have applied for planning permission for an organic chicken farm on the same site, which if successful, will throw a massive spanner into the National Grid's proposals.
Malcolm Pye says that it is essential in the current agricultural climate to diversify. The organic poultry sector is a growth area and the Middleton gap site offers a perfect blend of open pasture and sheltered woods for free range poultry farming. Unprofitable areas of land will be utilised and wildlife areas under threat from the pylons will be protected.
Parish Council Red ALERT
National Grid Plc has applied for planning permission for accesses from public roads, to allow construction traffic to the proposed pylon sites. Revolt is alerting Parish councils to this fact and urging that all possible avenues of objection are considered. e.g. heavy traffic, safety, sight lines, flora and fauna, interruption of businesses and rights of way,etc. Further delays to the pylon scheme are seen as the best opportunity to stop the line. The Enron power station has now been running for six years without the extra line. Revolt is pressing the Government to reconsider its approval of the scheme, as the moratorium on gas powered stations and the closure of existing stations, reinforces Revolt's argument that the new lines are not required.
National Grid's Whopping Lies
The latest planning applications confirm accusations that the National Grid misled the public inquiry about construction traffic movements, as much as it twisted the facts regarding electricity transmission requirements. At the inquiry, National Grid told the inspectors that around 12 heavy vehicle movements would be necessary for the construction of each standard pylon. National Grid now states that typically, for two pylons, 452 heavy vehicle movements will be required and 556 light vehicle trips! Even hardened protesters are shocked about the outrageous lies that the National Grid told to the inquiry.
Howls of Protest
In the week when Revolt has learned that Lord Wakeham, who granted consent for the Enron power station, now sits on the board of the self same company, it is imperative that this new Government sits up and listens to the persistent widespread protests from North Yorkshire about this hated scheme. The gross lying and manipulation of a public inquiry by a private company must be seen to be dealt with fairly and squarely!
REVOLT contacts:- Mike Barr (01845) 537247 home 537588 work.
Prof. Mike O'Carroll (01609) 882501
Landowners contacts:- Malcolm Pye, Rigel Pedigree Ltd (01642) 591240
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE SPOTLIGHT PRESS RELEASE No. 24 8/6/99
Farmer's son James Thompson was found Not Guilty of a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm at the end of a three day trial in Teesside Crown Court, Middlesbrough, on Friday 4 June. The jury reached this unanimous verdict very shortly after the summing up by Judge A N J Briggs. Twenty year-old James farms with his father and uncle at Low Moor Farm, West Harlsey, where incidents involving staff of the National Grid Company and their agents were alleged to have taken place on 15 December last year. James professed to being most surprised when he was questioned by police about the allegations three days later.
VERY DIFFERENT ACCOUNTS
The three witnesses brought by the Crown Prosecution Service alleged that James had driven his tractor directly at Mr Harold Carter, employed as a Wayleave Officer by National Grid, and that the 'bucket' on the front had struck Mr Carter, injuring his arm and making him fall to the ground. Mr Carter also claimed, when he attended the Friarage hospital that afternoon, that he had sustained some back injury. Besides Mr Carter, the two other prosecution witnesses - Mr Kelly and Mr Smith, both from National Grid or their agents - also claimed to have seen an incident, although they gave different descriptions of what happened, including precisely which of Mr Carter's arms was allegedly struck.
ALL IN A DAY'S WORK
James Thompson gave evidence on his own behalf that he was going about his normal day's work - including needing to fill up the hay cradle for the farm's sheep. But, this was disrupted by him seeing National Grid's large tracked vehicle on a field, and the entrance to the farm was blocked by their articulated low loader. Given the aggravation this caused to his work (including a suggestion from the National Grid men that they might cut down the field boundary wire and risk the sheep getting out if he did not move his tractor for them) James accepted that he was annoyed by their actions and lack of consideration, but strongly denied the charge brought against him. At the end of the trial, James and his father Derek, who also gave evidence, expressed their pleasure and relief at the verdict, while saying that they continued to be surprised that the action had been brought.
NATIONAL GRID - OTHER CASES OF CONCERN
Whilst this case has been brought other allegations concerning National Grid and their agents have not been taken to court, despite the police having taken some initial interest. These include:
- harassment of a farmer's wife at a Kirby Sigston farm by a National Grid official
- unwarranted aggressive behaviour by a police officer towards a landowner at Alne
- use of a vehicle on the public highway without an operating licence, proper
insuranceand using untaxed 'red' diesel
- use of a tracked vehicle on the public highway without adequate safety measures.
VIGILANCE AGAINST INTIMIDATION
REVOLT and local people will observe and assist landowners with action as National Grid and their agents continue to bring vehicles and equipment down local roads and tracks and on to private land. We will make every effort to ensure we act within the law - but we will also bring to public and police attention those acts where we consider the National Grid Company are breaking the law or improperly claiming rights that they simply do not have. We hope that all those still opposed to this unnecessary power line will support us in this and stop National Grid cutting corners and making false claims. Thankfully, this time the Crown Court decision has vindicated the farmers and defeated the National Grid officers attempts at intimidation.
CONTACTS FOR REVOLT Mike O'Carroll (01609) 882501 Peter Johnson (01845) 537443 Mike Barr (01845) 537247 Web-Site: http://www.revolt.co.uk
Professor Mike O'Carroll, REVOLT Chairman, says
"The evidence indicates to me that:
(a) NGC personnel had entered Low Moor Farm illegally, having failed to give satisfactory written notice as required under the Electricity Act, as advised by our solicitors;
(b) NGC claimed the owner Derek Thompson had agreed by telephone to their entry, which Mr Thompson denies, saying that the telephone call was NGC's assertion without agreement;
(c) NGC obstructed the farm access, blocking it with their low loader, and arrogantly failed to move it when asked to do so;
(d) NGC personnel refused to show written authorisation on request though they are legally required to do so;
(e) a report made "anonymously" to the Yorkshire Post could, because of its content and timing, only have been instigated slyly by NGC personnel, which led the police to accuse James Thompson of it;
(f) NGC personnel falsified evidence by fabrication and exaggeration in order to press a false charge;
(g) NGC personnel gave statements which were later shown to contradict both photographic and hospital evidence;
(h) Harold Carter denied under oath having wilfully obstructed access elsewhere, while video evidence of him arrogantly doing so and even admitting it shows that he lied.
The evidence reinforces the view, already well established through incidents elsewhere, that not only are NGC bullies, cheats and liars, but they flout the law and proper procedures. From my own contact with NGC personnel, I accept that some of them may be more reasonable and courteous, but that seems to be the exception. Some are like Jekyll and Hyde, able to be professionally polite in one situation but turning arrogantly ugly when away from professional scrutiny. There seems to be a culture of arrogant high-handedness pervading NGC, from its excessive executive pay which even John Major found "distasteful" to its recent plundering of its pension fund, which the Court of Appeal this year found to be unlawful. In recent years NGC's huge profits were obtained by deception through "serious overestimation" of costs in submissions to OFFER, as strongly criticised in the major 1996 Transmission Price Control Review. And of course the very application for the Yorkshire powerline was a travesty of bending the rules to make a false case.
The catalogue of nasty, greedy and arrogant behaviour is so extraordinary as to stretch credibility. It is important that NGC is exposed, however difficult it may be to believe, for the consistent and unlawful cheats, liars and bullies that the evidence shows them to be."
REVOLT SPOTLIGHT PRESS RELEASE NO 23. 19th April 1999
As the National Grid arrogantly continues to press its claim to destroy our beautiful countryside, it is currently trying to access properties around Kirby Sigston and the unspoilt Cotcliffe Valley.
Landowners here are proving particularly resistant to the National Grid's mob handed approach.
Squads of National Grid officials who have gained access to private property elsewhere along the line, with dubious documentation and intimidatory tactics, are meeting stiff resistance
Landowners and objectors wish to see that the National Grid is kept within the proper limit of its powers and doesn't abuse them.
To this end they have filmed the opening skirmishes with the National Grid surveyors, providing a gripping fly on the wall record of events as they unfold:-
See the surveying tracked 'tank' surrounded and halted by umbrellas.
See the hapless National Grid surveyors waving their 'piece of paper' and threatening legal action at every turn.
Witness residents refused access to their own homes!
Watch the National Grid discovering a unpleasant reality, they are an occupying force and the gritty Yorkshire refusal to accept their presence is all to apparent!
An edited (10 min) version of the 2 hour video is to be shown at 10 am on Tuesday 20th April at Kirby Sigston Village Hall.
All the protagonists will be there to answer questions from journalists and highlight the issues raised, namely:-
Right of owners access to their own property,
Mob handed intimidation of landowners by National Grid 'officials'
Inept handling of paperwork by National Grid
Arrogant assumption by National Grid that their rights override individuals rights
Questions as to the safety and legality of the Geocone tracked vehicle
Questions as to the National Grid handling of procedures e.g. attempting access to waterlogged fields against landowners advice.
Yorkshire the Movie
In order to assist other landowners and protesters on what can be lawfully achieved by sheer stubborn persistence, Revolt are intending to release the video to the public for special viewings at local cinemas and village halls and are especially looking for interest from documentary makers to have the video shown nationally.
Refreshments will be provided by the Women's Institute (fully clothed)
REVOLT contacts:- Mike Barr (01845) 537247 home 537588 work.
Prof. Mike O'Carroll (01609) 882501
Landowners contacts:- Bellerby family (01609) 772850
Chapman family (01609) 883340
Hart family (01609) 776127
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE SPOTLIGHT PRESS RELEASE No. 22 6/4/99
ONE YEAR ON - WHAT IS NATIONAL GRID DOING?
It's now over a year since planning consent for most of the Second Yorkshire Line of Pylons through North Yorkshire and Cleveland was granted (on 26 March 1998) by the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Margaret Beckett. National Grid continues to threaten to build the pylons - and REVOLT continues to dispute strongly that the pylons are needed, other than for National Grid's greedy profits. It's strange that National Grid made such a fuss about the need for the new power line, and yet over a year later there is still no sign anywhere of one of the pylons being built. All that has been seen recently is a group of desultory surveyors wandering through fields of sheep and their lambs trying not to be seen by angry farmers. It's more like Grid-lock!
METAL DETECTORS FAIL TO FIND PYLONS
A local metal detectors' club, The Cleveland Discoverers, have spent much of the past year on land the huge pylons are threatened to spoil, looking for metal objects large and small. They have done this with the support of REVOLT and many of the local land-owners in the hope that some ancient treasures might be unearthed which would lead to further delay in the building of the line. With National Grid making progress at the rate they have been doing recently the Cleveland Discoverers have been able to make a thorough search of some of the areas. What they have not come across yet is a single new pylon! Clearly, the need for the pylons was not as pressing as was claimed. Or, more likely - as REVOLT claims - National Grid got its planning wrong in the first instance.
SMALLER TREASURES UNEARTHED
The 40-strong Cleveland Discoverers, working at weekends, have been able to unearth some smaller, less obtrusive, objects. Some of these were on display at their meeting at Redcar Literary Institute last night. They included a bronze-age axe-head, a siege coin probably from the Civil War, and some Anglo-Saxon hammered coins. As a token of thanks for REVOLT's help, and to support their continued action against the pylons, the Cleveland Discoverers' Chairman, Quentin Mercer, presented a cheque for £150 to REVOLT. Mr Mercer said, "We are pleased to be associated with REVOLT's continued fight against the proposed power-line which, if built, will deface some beautiful countryside which we have learned to love as part of the heritage of the area."
KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK, NATIONAL GRID!!
Whilst metal detectors are being given access to much of the land involved National Grid continue to meet opposition. They have been refused access for their heavy tracked 'Geo-Tech' Machine on a number of farms in the Kirby Sigston area. National Grid's solicitors appear incapable of issuing proper, legal, statutory notices to those land-owners who fight. It is understood that further efforts will be made by in the next few weeks by National Grid to access the land - the land-owners concerned will continue to challenge the legality of their access. REVOLT's message to National Grid is: "Keep making the blunders you have in the past, and the pylon line will never get built." Our message to local landowners continues to be: " Don't answer National Grid's questions, agree nothing with them, and send any letters of entry to REVOLT to get them legally tested for you free of charge. National Grid do not have automatic rights of access to your land."
For CLEVELAND DISCOVERERS: Quentin Mercer (01642) 470662
Keith Thomson (01642) 647976
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE SPOTLIGHT PRESS RELEASE No. 21 19/3/99
NATIONAL GRID THREATENS LANDOWNERS
Two landowners at Kirby Sigston, near Northallerton were threatened today with possible expensive legal action by representatives of the National Grid Company when it appeared that they might be refusing access on to their land. A troop of about 8 men representing National Grid turned up at Sigston Bridge this morning, armed with mobile phones connecting them to their legal advisers, claiming that they had the law completely on their side to allow full access on to any parts of two local farms they cared to go. The farms, belonging to local families the Chapmans and the Bellerbys, are threatened with large pylons and overhead transmission lines which will draw a swathe across the beautiful countryside of the Cotcliffe Valley.
HIGH NOON AT KIRBY SIGSTON
After almost two hours of dithering around, observed by local supporters of the landowners - otherwise called 'Amateur Enthusiasts' by one of the grid employees - four of the National Grid officials swaggered bravely over the bridge the hundred yards or so to the landowners and made their statements of possible further legal action. Noon struck and the sun shone brightly on this scene in the wild hills of North Yorkshire - apt for an old Hollywood movie, if only it had been cowboys rather than law-abiding farmers who were being threatened. Film cameras there were not, but the TV cameras of Tyne Tees TV recorded the scene, witnessed also by local police called by local people to keep the peace, partly because of earlier alleged harassment of one of the farmer's family by a National Grid employee.
Although National Grid has some powers of entry on to land, this is subject to limitations and conditions. Many other landowners will, however, have assumed that their papers are in order, and so will not have objected to entry. Nothing could be further from the truth! REVOLT's own legal enquiries suggest that National Grid generally goes about entry in an improper manner and landowners would be entitled to turn them away until they get it right. We suspect that National Grid systematically seeks to use more power than the law gives them, by brow-beating landowners into agreeing to things by suggesting their entry will be inevitable. Not only are they Power Transmitters, they are also Power Abusers.
COMEDY OF ERRORS
If not so tragic National Grid's dealings in planning for the line would be a Comedy of Errors. In the case of these two farms it has taken National Grid and their lawyers since last October - about six months and at least three attempts - to issue anything like a proper statutory notice, and even then they have not succeeded. Some letters have said that they will take entry after a certain date but not saying when and arriving months later; some have failed to notify the correct occupier; there are errors of date - e.g. January 1998 instead of 1999; some have failed to make it clear what was the purpose of entry and confused two different powers; and even simple things like writing a proper sentence seem to challenge them.
BRIGHT? or DIM?
Many will have seen the National Grid expensive full page adverts in the national press with their question 'Bright? or Dim?' and claiming them to be 'British Brain Power'. Should we be reporting them to the Advertising Standards Agency for mis-representation? There appear so many mistakes in their statutory notices that some believe they are making them on purpose! Added to this are mistakes such as the 'Middleton Gap' where part of the line does not have planning consent, and which they apparently did not notice for nine months until pointed out to them. How can ordinary members of the public have confidence that National Grid got their figures right when they claimed to have justified the need for the power-line in the first place - a claim which REVOLT still disputes, and which it is hoped that the new Secretary of State for Trade & Industry, Steven Byers, will re-examine, even at this late stage.
SUNSET OVER SIGSTON
As the sun started to go down over the beautiful Kirby Sigston hills and woods four lonely surveyors could be seen tramping over the land continuing the errors of their masters. One of them was heard to admit that he had forgotten his map showing where their pylons were planned. He was seen trudging back to base surreptitiously - it is thought to recover his map. In the end the landowners had not barred entry on to their land, but had made it abundantly clear that neither were they agreeing to it. In their view the National Grid representatives were acting illegally and were unwelcome trespassers.
The message to landowners and occupiers is this: "Never agree to anything with National Grid. They are likely to be seeking to extend their powers beyond the legal requirement. Do not answer their questions for you may well be recorded by their hidden devices. Feel free to send any letters of entry to REVOLT, who will get them legally tested for you free of charge. While National Grid has powers of entry, and may apply them eventually, they are not entitled to go as they please on your land. Unfortunately, if you have already made a written agreement with them, you may have conceded extra powers to National Grid."
For landowners: Stuart Chapman (01609) 883340 Keith Bellerby (01609) 772850
For REVOLT: Peter Johnson (01845) 537443 Mike O'Carroll (01609) 882501
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 25/1/99 SPOTLIGHT PRESS RELEASE No. 20
Press Notice/Reminder - WAYLEAVE HEARINGS
Wayleave hearings are being held for up to 3 days starting at 10.00 am on Tuesday 26 January at the Sundial Hotel, Darlington Rd., Northallerton.
The hearings will give landowners the opportunity to put their cases against having the second North Yorkshire pylon line proposed by the National Grid Company built on their land. The landowners/occupiers concerned are known to be Kilvington Estates, the Ryders and the Consetts, although an official at the DTI has refused to confirm all of their names - stating that this is a private matter about which members of the public have no right to be informed. Those involved in the hearings continue to oppose the line and inform REVOLT of the hearings.
Members of the public will be allowed into the hearings, unless the parties concerned object and the government-appointed Inspector, Mr David Dalby-Jones, rules that parts of the hearings should be in private. The inspector will, in due course, report to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Stephen Byers, for a decision on whether the line of pylons should be built as proposed by National Grid. As has been the case in the past it is expected that his recommendation will support the financial interests of the National Grid monopoly and that the whole process will continue to be the sham which has been experienced over the past 7 years. This will not, however, stop those who consider that the powerline is an unnecessary disaster to the area continuing to press their case against it.
A group of REVOLT members will hold a demonstration against the proposed pylon line before the beginning of the hearings, from 9.30 am on Tuesday 26 January.
Press and media representatives are invited to be present.
Contact: REVOLT - Peter Johnson (01845) 537443 Web-site: http://www.revolt.co.uk
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 20/1/99
SPOTLIGHT PRESS RELEASE No. 19
REVOLT'S SEVENTH YEAR IN BRIEF - 1998 - Triumph of big business over New Labour, the electorate and the facts.
Revolt has shown that the power line is not needed, yet the former Secretary of State, Margaret Beckett, decided to cosy up to big business, seeming to allow dollars and corporate doublespeak to influence her decision. The National Grid was clearly shown to have misled the inquiry about the need for the proposed line yet the lobbyists and the Westminster mandarins recommended that more ugly pylons ruining Teesside and Yorkshire didn't matter. (Its only the North-east, not the Home Counties!)
The politics of the issue are complex, yet to the layman it is clear that money counts and the lobbying of the American power generators and the National Grid are more important to successive governments than the near unanimous opposition of the public.
In 1998 Revolt has concentrated in highlighting all the issues in an extremely successful press campaign. (See Spotlights 1 - 18) As usual the media recognised the simmering discontent in the ranks, even if the politician didn't.
Through the Summer and Autumn Revolt has been busy with the infrastructure to support direct action against National Grid and their contractors. Cases have been high-lighted where National Grid staff have been involved in harassment and intimidation of landowners, and where their procedures in issuing notices to affected landowners have been shown to be sadly lacking. REVOLT will continue in this task and will challenge any actions National Grid takes where they appear to be flouting the law, or taking their rights for granted.
Protest is hotting up with more public involvement as requested in Public meetings. National Grid might have its "bit of paper" but has grossly underestimated the fighting spirit of Yorkshiremen and Yorkshirewomen.
Protesters marched along the prettiest parts of the route between Kirkby Sigston and Borrowby and brought the November 5th celebrations up to date by burning effigies of National Grid Chairman and the Secretary of State. The National Grid Group Annual General Meeting was dominated by shareholders protesting about the pylons.
Meanwhile landowners have been implementing their non co-operation policy - giving National Grid wayleave officers no quarter and forcing every possible administrative inconvenience on them. The great majority of Landowners oppose the lines and have had planning permission and wayleaves compulsorily forced on them. Many continue, with REVOLT, to plan the next stages of the opposition.
1999 WAKE UP CALL
Revolt aims to highlight the pylon issue nationally. Any traveller across our country cannot avoid the monstrosities strung willy nilly across our landscape. Its time the British people woke up to this unacceptable disfiguring of whole panoramas. They blight the landscape far more insidiously than other environmental scars such as quarries or roads. etc because they are high profile and stretch to the horizon.
In the fifties and sixties pylons represented progress and an end to the austere war years, but a new greener generation is increasingly aware of the dreadful visual pollution caused and the ever growing mountain of evidence about electromagnetic health fears.
Pylons no longer represent the public good but all that is gross about privatised utilities.
Revolt aims to address these concerns. The National Grid maintains that undergrounding of transmission lines is too expensive compared to overhead wires. Yet the mobile 'phone companies can expect to pay landowners much greater sums of money for less obtrusive towers. Were the NG forced to pay proper compensation for each pylon then the cost of undergrounding would look less prohibitive.
Environmentally friendly power generation needs to be emphasised and Revolt will lobby the government on its green credentials. An ever increasing number of pylons will be built if electricity generation is done at the extremes of the country and wastefully transmitted on pylons, rather than being generated locally.
Gas powered stations might be cleaner but they should be sited where the demand for power is. Transmitting gas underground causes no pollution and the gas grid already exists. Waste heat from power stations can be used in local heating schemes. (Combined Heat & Power, CHP) The Government has expressed support for all these issues and has stopped the dash for gas yet incongruously allowed the North Yorkshire pylons. Why?
Revolt aims to consolidate its links with other protest groups to enable the environmentally devastating pylon issue to gain a larger audience.
Mystery Breakdowns, Pre- millennium bug.
We have heard that the progress of the National Grid surveying teams has already been delayed by a series of baffling car breakdowns on farm tracks. These have led to the unfortunate consequence of delaying access to the National Grid's surveying rig to some of its sites. It is understood that a mechanic called out to one of the cars said that there was a breakdown bug doing the rounds and he couldn't rule out an epidemic, particularly in the winter weather. Perhaps more cars will suffer the breakdown bug before the National Grid survey is completed.
REVOLT: Mike Barr (01845) 537247 & 537588 Peter Johnson (01845) 537443
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