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REVOLT Powerline Concerns Health Hazards Need UK Energy Policy

Chairman's Report 1998 Appendices


Chairman's Report September 1998

Appendix 1: Why do we still disagree with Secretary of State?

Appendix 2: What will happen next?

Appendix 3: REVOLT's Outline Strategy, updated to September 1998

Appendix 4: Pylons Policy of Non-co-operation (September 1998)

Appendix 5: The 275 kV Lackenby-Crathorne-Norton line and the proposed Lackenby-Picton line.

Appendix 1: Why do we still disagree with Secretary of State?

The question of need was considered at length in the 1992 and 1995 inquiries, the inspectors accepted NGC’s argument, and Secretary of State in turn accepted their recommendations. However that situation is very unsatisfactory to us, since, for example:

(a) the inquiry reports do not adequately reflect objectors’ submissions on the nature of "need", from inescapable statutory requirement to commercial desire, with stages in between reflecting speculative promotion of possible future generation projects; the inspectors’ conclusions do not distinguish between these types of need;

(b) such statutory requirement as was claimed by NGC and accepted by the inspectors depended on an admitted departure from the literal meaning of the relevant conditions (grid security standards), and evidence since the inquiries closed has exposed further significant flaws in the claim;

(c) even NGC accepted that at most a single-circuit line was needed, whereas an excessive double-circuit line has been consented for commercial and practical convenience, which is stretching the concept of "need" for the benefit of a private company against the overwhelming public view;

(d) Secretary of State has failed to respond fairly to the very serious new evidence arising from the Transmission Price Control Review of 1996 which shows that the inquiries and the inspectors were fundamentally misled; in the decision letter she acknowledges that this evidence could be material to the decision yet she goes on to accept the inspectors’ conclusions.

Any lingering doubts about the contrived and unrealistic nature of the case for the line are strikingly refuted by the physical reality that the new Teesside power station came on full stream in April 1993 and has operated for over five years, a third of its contractual life, without any problem arising from the lack of a new line. This is the physical proof that the present arrangements work well and could continue. Loss of electricity supply is almost entirely down to the low voltage distribution systems in the RECs, whereas the NGC transmission system is extremely secure.

Important changes have emerged since the inquiries and continue to emerge since the decision letter of 26.3.98, notably the withdrawal of the Neptune project which was cited in the decision letter but which has now ceased to be "transmission-contracted", development of government policy and targets for CHP, extension of the moratorium on gas-fired power stations, and suggestions of the imminent closure of the Blyth power stations, all of which would significantly reduce the need for bulk north-to-south transmission.

If the line were to be built, these developments would in a few years show it to be a white elephant and there would be a case for its removal. None of the inquiries has considered the future scenario in the light of developing government policy. The assumption made by NGC and accepted by the inspectors that a double-circuit line would avoid the need for later reinforcement is unjustified, and the inspectors have neither considered evidence nor given reasons for accepting that assumption.

Experience has led the public to have no confidence in the DTI procedures, which have been marred by repeated error and misleading information, which has been well documented. The basis of financial appraisals of options has been shown to be materially flawed, so as to reverse their conclusions, showing that options without the Yorkshire line are advantageous. Inquiries were misled on the cost and impact of undergrounding, as is now confirmed by NGC’s latest suggestions to affected landowners that there will not be a 15 metre swathe of sterilised land over which no hedges can grow after all. DTI seems to be biased in favour of commercial interests against the public, especially on environmental matters.

 Appendix 2: What will happen next?

From reports received, it appears that NGC is determined to proceed with the project, and is likely to be as arrogant as ever in browbeating landowners to co-operate. NGC is clearly very concerned about local co-operation and is expected to continue trying to mislead landowners into believing others have given in. Many landowners however remain defiant.

Indications are that, given the consents and compulsory wayleaves so far obtained, NGC is confident of further approvals and will not offer landowners inducements on the previous scales. Landowners having compulsory powers imposed against them will therefore not be compensated equally with those who settled voluntarily in 1994.

NGC suggests that co-operation will minimise the impact on landowners, which some may see as a threat. However NGC is constrained by law to give due notice and to compensate for damage. The landowner is entitled to reasonable treatment. REVOLT will assist where required.

There have been cases of NGC agents illegally entering land without permission and damaging crops. A case arose even this week, so landowners should be vigilant. Land agents should be able to obtain compensation. NGC has a standard written Notice of Entry on land for purpose of survey and exploration. They should serve it at least 14 days in advance. Landowners can require persons seeking entry to show their identity and authorisation. They have no power to enter a building or its yard or garden, or an area with planning permission for a building.

NGC is consulting landowners over possible undergrounding from Nunthorpe to Newby, to avoid the difficulties with rejected wayleaves near Brasscastle Lane and the rejected sealing end at Greytowers, and to avoid the need for a sealing end east of Newby. In the public inquiries they repeatedly said that undergrounding cut a 15 metre wide swathe of sterilised land over which no hedges would grow. Now they tell affected landowners that there is no such swathe and reinstating crops and hedges is no problem! We are not surprised at the duplicity.

TIMETABLE

October 1998: Further survey work and soil sampling at pylon sites along most of the line. Continued consultations with landowners on undergrounding between Nunthorpe and Newby. Application for sealing end west of Newby, requiring approval by Hambleton DC. Application for a diversion at Kilvington where wayleaves were rejected, within the already consented corridor. Application for compulsory wayleave for a small oversail at Crosby previously omitted in error.

November 1998: Re-opened wayleave hearing for Wilkinsons, previously omitted in error by DTI. Possible new wayleave hearing for other omitted and varied wayleaves.

1999: Construction work to start on pylon sites, possibly in April. Possible public inquiries into the sealing end west of Newby.

2001: NGC plans to complete the project over three years.

anytime: Application for more giant power stations on Teesside. Application for grid developments elsewhere throughout England to deal with knock-on effects.

Appendix 3: REVOLT's Outline Strategy, updated to September 1998

Challenge

REVOLT will continue to oppose the whole Lackenby-Picton-Shipton line because it is fundamentally wrong. It is unnecessary and will promote massive waste of energy and money. We recognise the difficulty of stopping the project at this stage, and the inevitability of direct action. REVOLT will support formal objections in the various proceedings and permissions still required.

Persuasion

Emerging government energy policy, including new CHP targets and the moratorium on gas-fired power stations, is moving in our favour. REVOLT will press for reversal of the decision in line with these developments. Sooner or later the grid line must be seen as counter to economic and environmental aims. REVOLT has always had all-party support and will continue to be non-party-political. We will keep working to persuade government, and the new Secretary of State Peter Mandelson, of the sense of our campaign, and to help them find a credible way forward.

REVOLT recognises the distorted financial incentives on NGC to get the new line. It would cost them nothing (consumers would pay) and earn them highly profitable contracts for long-distance transmission from Scotland which is fundamentally uneconomic. We will press the new joint electricity and gas regulator to improve regulation against this waste. We will seek to persuade NGC to be more responsible and will expose their shortcomings. We will also seek to dissuade NGC from installing the grid line by advising them of the extent of intended non-co-operation.

Public profile

We will continue to raise the public profile of the issue to support the political and industrial persuasion. If they go ahead, the pylons will be made a monument to the guilty politicians. REVOLT will alert the rest of England to the knock-on grid developments they can expect.

Non-co-operation

REVOLT's policy is maximum resistance within the law. We will consult and co-operate with the police and local authorities. A detailed non-co-operation policy will be widely disseminated.

Rearguard

NGC expects to complete construction over three years 1999-2001. Should construction be completed, the facility for review and removal at any time after 5 years will be pursued. In 5 years the industry will have moved forward to smaller cleaner CHP units replacing giant remote power stations, so that the need for grid lines is much reduced. In the event that the 275 kV line is removed, we will pursue further removal of the Picton-Shipton section only.

Appendix 4: Pylons Policy of Non-co-operation (September 1998)

REVOLT will:

while landowners and tenants are invited to:

and members of the public are invited to:

 Appendix 5: The 275 kV Lackenby-Crathorne-Norton line and the proposed Lackenby-Picton line.

National Grid's proposals for its new 50-mile 400 kV line include the eventual removal of a 20-mile 275 kV line which runs from Lackenby to Norton via Crathorne, through residential areas such as Marton, Coulby Newham, Yarm, Eaglescliffe and Stockton. The removal of that line would benefit residents in those areas, but that does not justify inflicting a new bigger line elsewhere. Most houses near the 275 kV were built after the line appeared and the residents went there mainly by choice.

NGC has emphasised factors likely to divide the public. The divisive element is on property value, and that is difficult. The new line would be much longer, yet many more people live very close to the old one. But the bigger issues are the spoiling of the countryside as a resource for all, massive waste of energy and effects on global warming, and more polluting power stations on Teesside. These things should unite us, not divide us.

If the new line goes ahead, two more huge polluting power stations are earmarked for Teesside. More pylons through the south Teesside commuter belt, downgrading the whole area and its approaches, will not help Teesside develop jobs for the new millennium. There are virtually no jobs in modern power stations!

The whole idea of the new line is so wasteful and costly. There is already more than 100% over-capacity of power generation in the north east. Any more can only serve the net demand in the far south. The waste involved is so enormous that people glaze over when they hear it. Energy worth over 500 million would be wasted every year in dumped heat at power stations and losses in long-distance transmission. That is enough to run all the hospitals and health services for the whole of Teesside, Hartlepool and Cleveland.

We recognise health concerns from electromagnetic fields. Though not yet accepted as proof, the evidence does give reason for suspicion and caution. Fields in many Teesside homes give concern. The worst are in west Yarm where a 400kV line runs directly overhead. This is not the same as the 275kV line and there is no suggestion for its removal. The answer with the 275kV line is simple: the power could be routed on the line through open land north of the Tees, leaving this residential line switched off but standing by as (necessary) spare capacity. But National Grid refuses to do it.

REVOLT's proposals for simpler reinforcements north of the Tees would better enable the 275 kV line to be removed. Our bolder proposals for a state-of-the-art superconducting underground cable along the Parkway and A19, with a world research centre, would do wonders for Teesside.

While objecting to the whole proposal for the reasons above, REVOLT recognises (a) that the Lackenby-Picton section will be seen by some to be offset against the removal of the 275 kV line, (b) that the construction of the 400 kV substation at Lackenby, completed soon after its consent in 1994, prejudices the position in favour of this section, though it could alternatively be used for a simpler reinforcement north of the Tees, (c) that the removal of the 275 kV line would prevent the possible removal of the Lackenby-Picton section after 5 years, (d) that undergrounding continuously from Nunthorpe to Newby will overcome some of the strongest local objections which were supported by the inspectors, and (e) that in these respects the Lackenby-Picton section is different from the Picton-Shipton section.

The benefits of the potential removal of the 275 kV line, and of further possible undergrounding, are recognised, but not accepted as justification for the new line. We would also press for other benefits such as 100 metres clearance of houses and play areas, including houses with small children in Southgate at Eston.

The above points are not relevant to objections to the line south of Picton. The Lackenby-Picton section could meet the existing Norton-York 400 kV line in a 3-way connection. This would still prevent the economic folly of further bulk long-distance transmission. None of the arguments about the 275 kV line or mitigation in Cleveland should affect objections to the Picton-Shipton section. While recognising the differences between the two sections, REVOLT continues to oppose the entire unnecessary project.

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Chairman's Report September 1998

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