R E V O L T
Minutes of the Annual General Meeting 1999 held on
Thursday 14th October 1999 at 7.30 p.m. in Thirsk Town Hall
1. Approximately 100 people attended.
Apologies were received from Dr Tilley, David Dugdale, Stan Wilson, Stella Wilson, Miss SJ Fell, Trev Peacock, Diana Wallis MEP, Anne McIntosh MP, Peter Edwards NFU, Cllr John Coulson, Janet Wright WI, Edgar Chapman, Linda Chapman, Anne Johnson, Peter Johnson, Lynette Eaves, Gerald Scott, Angela Ovenston, Geoff Sharp
2. The Minutes of 1998 AGM were confirmed as circulated.
3. The Treasurer’s Report was accepted as tabled and read.
4. The Chairman’s Report was accepted as circulated.
5. Election of Committee. It was proposed by Joe Salmon and seconded by Foster Holmes and agreed that the duly proposed nominees, not exceeding the maximum number (20) of places on the committee, be elected with power to co-opt further members within a total of 20: Robert Adamson, Mike Barr, Mary Bell, Penny Bell. Joan Brunton, Sarah Costley, David Dugdale, Lynette Eaves, Hugh Jenyns, Peter Johnson, Ken Lacy, Mike O’Carroll, Angela Ovenston, Geoff Sharp, Nigel Stephenson and Iris Wilkinson. (total 16)
6. Appointment of Auditor: it was agreed to re-appoint Ms S Vickery.
7. Open Forum. Councillors Mollie Haigh, Steve Merritt and Peter Sowray joined the Chairman and Secretary on the platform to respond to comments and questions from the floor.
It was announced that the DTI had declared there would be further public inquiries into the CPOs at Newby and Nunthorpe. It was noted that
(a) the proposed power stations Neptune and Flotilla on Teesside had been abandoned,
(b) it was proposed to close Blyth in Northumberland, and
(c) the DTI list of power station consents by the new government numbered 20, all south of the line except for a very small "black start" facility at TPL which is restricted to very special use. While NGC had applied for this line at the height of the tide of distortion in the privatised market with the "dash for gas", the tide had now turned and was rapidly running out against the need for the line. There was a real chance of stopping it and every delay would help.
In his remarks before leaving for another meeting, Cllr Merritt stated that although personally against the pylons he did not oppose the government who, he felt, had been forced to act on the results of the public enquiry in granting permission for the line. Subsequent examples of where the Public Enquiry had apparently been misled by NGC were presented to the meeting by REVOLT members.
Many members expressed concerns about highways work being authorised by NYCC officers and undertaken by NGC prior to Hambleton DC (despite the welcome and sustained objections of Cllr Mollie Haigh MBE, Cllr Coulson and Cllr Wade) agreeing access planning applications and to HDC officers recommending approval of planning applications with serious questions unanswered. Cllr Peter Sowray announced that NYCC had secured agreement that no more highways work would proceed in advance of the relevant planning approval, which was warmly welcomed. He said this was a "concession from National Grid", but members suggested NYCC should be in control so it should not be seen as a concession. It was suggested councillors could instruct officers to search for ways of properly deferring or rejecting NGC’s proposals, reflecting public opinion. People objected to NYCC highways officers, while unaware of full local details, taking decisions behind closed doors to progress NGC’s work and refusing to deem the project "politically sensitive" against the overwhelming weight of evidence. It was suggested the decisions should be referred to councillors at the Highways Committee to which public representations could be made.
Detailed concerns were also reported, as summarised in the Appendix to these Minutes.
In answer to a final general question, the chairman restated REVOLT’s opinion that
1) the Secretary of State at the time of the EMRON enquiry (Lord Wakeham) being now employed by EMRON and
2) that EMRON’s sponsorship of the Labour Party Conference in 1998 were a disgrace.
In his closing remarks the Chairman reiterated advice to landowners to be vigilant and not to make assumptions that NGC were acting scrupulously.
The meeting closed at approximately 9.50 p.m.
Appendix: other detailed points raised in open discussion
- At the Hambleton Planning Committee of 7.10.99 the many objecting letters and the points raised in them were hardly mentioned. Works at Chester Lane, Kirby Sigston, had begun in advance of the Planning Committee’s consideration.
- The hazard of the proposed volume of traffic upon schoolchildren, who wait for school buses at the end of numerous farm tracks along the proposed vehicle routes, was dismissed.
- The Planning Committee did not consider alternative routes, or their possibility. In reply Cllr Sowray said that Planning Committees could only consider what was put to them. (However, officers may consider possible alternatives and advise the Committee.)
- In reply to Cllr Merritt on democracy, it was suggested that as NGC had seriously misled the inquiries, it was not democratic of the government to accept the recommendations of the inquiry reports, and that the government found difficulty in challenging commercial interests.
- Elected councillors should represent the views of their electorate and challenge NGC.
- Routing hundreds of construction vehicles down a country lane, normally used only for local access, should be seen as a change of usage requiring planning approval.
- Cllr Merritt suggested it may be helpful to establish where there would be a permanent effect.
- There would be an ongoing use for maintenance which should be taken into account.
- Members should not be subjugated by officers, but should instruct officers to find every possible proper means to resist the project to reflect public opinion.
- There is no appeal mechanism against consent for the line, in spite of claims that NGC seriously misled the inquiries, so local authority resistance is a fair democratic response.
- There should be a risk assessment with a responsibility of a planning supervisor, which should address questions such as safety of children and the public. NGC did not appear to have produced one, and the local authorities should ask for it.
- The access applications were premature at this time when critical consents were not in place, for example the Middleton Gap, the Newby-Nunthorpe CPOs, and the Condition of 100m clearance from dwellings near Thirsk. Hambleton should defer the applications as premature.
- At a site meeting following the 1992 Environmental Impact Assessment, NGC were asked about trees and said that "we may have to lop one or two". It now seems 2,800 will be felled.
- It seems ancient oaks in the Galtres Forest are to be felled. Cllr Haigh is to attend a site visit with a parish council, and suggests people raise local concerns through parish councils.
- NGC is withholding information about trees to be felled, and has refused to give it in response to a request from Anne McIntosh MP, except for areas designated NCIs where they are obliged to reveal it. The DTI has supported NGC’s refusal. Hambleton should ask for the information. Cllr Sowray said he would ask Hambleton again.
- A tree preservation order was said to cost about £90 per tree. REVOLT would consider sponsoring TPOs in appropriate places. It was suggested a TPO would not be granted where it would frustrate a previously granted wayleave.
- The Tees Forest were said to be asking NGC for details of trees to be felled in its area.
- It was suggested every landowner should ask for details of affected trees on their own land.
- Another matter said not to be fully considered in 1992 was the need to move low tension lines which cross the path of the proposed line.
- It was suggested that REVOLT and the local authorities should commission legal advice on how best to resist the proposals. It was noted that they had used legal advice on key issues.
- On a particular section of Hag lane, a resident was told by Hambleton DC that a development involving just a few cars would require 4 passing places, whereas NGC’s hundreds of vehicles were allowed access with only 2 passing places on the same stretch of road. NYCC Highways should look again at this.
- If the 57 tonne crane is tracked it will need to be brought on a wagon of some 30 tonnes, over small lanes and bridges. There is a lack of information on the complete schedule of vehicle weights and numbers, which is suspected to cover up impacts worse than declared.
- Work at Chester Lane, Kirby Sigston, had re-started this week against the express assurance given through the local Councillor (Cllr Dennis) that it would not.
- Mr Fell had said the highways work at Chester lane was not for NGC but for public safety, whereas the contract workers admitted they were working for NGC.
- It was asked whether councillors could refuse to co-operate with officer advice, for example by refusing to vote or by resigning from a committee (not from the council). Cllr Haigh said she would feel the need of a clear majority mandate from the electorate.
- It was asked whether "no confidence in NGC", given their misinformation, would be proper grounds to refuse planning permission.
- Cllr Haigh said there were unanswered questions about the source of stones for the temporary roads. There had been suggestions that a million tons were to be taken from one site near Folthorpe. Cllr Sowray said there had been no applications for new quarries, and it would be difficult to prevent accelerated extraction from a permitted quarry.
- Cllr Haigh was also concerned about the concentration of activity at the Folthorpe compound now agreed for AMEC. It was rumoured there would be some 200 staff, with the compound possibly serving the whole line or most of it.
- It should be asked if vehicle details include the stringing operation, which was said to require a vehicle carrying 4 x 32 tonne balls of wire.
- Officers of both councils should seek full information on points such as the above in order to understand the effect of these proposals, including their cumulative and interactive effects, before giving either highways or planning approval.
- Confidence in the officers was questioned, and councillors gave assurances.
- It was said that Lord Wakeham, who had consented the TPL power station mainly owned by Enron, received $72,000 consultancy fees and $50,000 director’s fees from Enron.
- It was suggested it would be prudent to involve the Health and Safety Executive in a number of questions about the access works and public highway use.
- NGC had issued unsolicited cheques for the minimal rental from March 1998. Some landowners were returning the cheques to demonstrate they had not entered into any agreement with NGC.