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REVOLT Powerline Concerns Health Hazards Need UK Energy Policy

Thirsk

15/03/2000

Reports of National Grid's consultative/charm offensive meetings with various villages due to be disrupted by the building of the proposed line.

Public Meeting at Thirsk Town Hall 15 March 2000
Picton to Shipton 400kV Overhead Power Line

Summary

The NGC team was an improvement on the one at Borrowby and Knayton. Nevertheless Stewart Grant did most of the talking. The attendance was poor, apart from Thirsk Town Council there were about 10 people from outlying villages and 23 from Thirsk.

Thirsk has only four pylons, its traffic problems centre on the A19/A170 Sutton Road connection and vehicles turning/ turning right on Sutton Road.

Issues raised:

1. Sutton Road turning
2. Pylons on Barkers Land
3. Start Date
4. Traffic Management
5. White Mare Roundabout
6. School Buses
7. Access to Land.
8. Thirsk By Pass
9. Number of Vehicles
10. Alternative means of Access from A19
11. Sequence of Construction
12. Towers
13. Overhead Lines V Underground Cables
14. Trees
15. Contractors Local Depots
16. Maintenance Activities
17. Effect on Farming/EMF etc.
18. Bass Strait Link Australia
19. Additional Uses of Towers

Notes
NGC have an office in Northallerton at: PO Box 82, Northallerton. DL6 2XY
Tel 01609 785600 Fax 01609 785631.

The Project Manager David Mercer is based at Leeds 1100 Century Way, Thorpe Park, Leeds. LS13 8TU
Tel 0113290 8000.

British Standard for Towers is BS 7733

Public Meeting at Thirsk Town Hall 15 March 2000 19:45 to 21:40 hrs

Picton to Shipton 400kV Overhead Power Line

Present

On the platform

Mr Derek Adamson (Chairman) - Thirsk Town Council
Mr Harold Carter - NGC Wayleave Officer
Mr Stewart Grant - NGC PR
Mr David Mercer - NGC Project Manager
Mr Bob Calvert - NGC Project Engineer

Audience

Councillor David Murkett
Councillor Freda Roberts
Councillor Jan Marshall
Councillor Carol Pack
Mrs Marigold Wilkinson (Clerk to Thirsk Town Council)
Mr Mike Robertson NYCC Highways
Mr Geoff Fell County Solicitor NYCC

33 members of the public. 

Before the Public meeting the NGC representatives had an informal discussion with the Town Council members and showed maps of the proposed transport routes for pylon construction in the Thirsk Council area.

Mr Adamson (Chairman) opened the meeting and said that this meeting was an opportunity for residents to discuss traffic related issues during construction of the overhead power line. It was not an opportunity to discuss the rights and wrongs of the line.

Mr Grant for the National Grid Company (NGC) said they proposed to deal with the overhead line in Thirsk. They would be happy to deal with any other issues but were constrained by time.. The attached information sheet was circulated and maps handed to elected representatives.

The following matter were raised:

1. Sutton Road (A170).

Provision for turning at the end of the "blue " route (nominated contractors access route) will be made off road. A fork off Sutton Road was under discussion with NYCC.

2. Pylons on Barkers Land

NGC had contacted Mr Ed. Barker that there were errors in siting towers on his   land. NGC said it was their intention to construct towers in accordance with the consent given by the Secretary of State. They will not seek to re site towers. NGC will investigate the contacts with Mr Barker.

3. Start Date

The start date for construction has not been set. Consent for the overhead line was granted in March '98 but there are conditions which have to be agreed with Local Authorities, there are still outstanding issues. NGC hope to start in 2000. They will advise the date when known.

4. Traffic Management

There were no traffic management plans for Thirsk and no road improvements planned.

5. White Mare Roundabout

The difficulty of articulated vehicles turning onto and off the A170 (Sutton Road) were explained to NGC and a new slip road was proposed which would assist the NGC contractor and local residents and gain local goodwill.

Mr Grant said he knew how controversial the project was and NGC wanted to put something back into communities affected by construction, he had commented to the Town Council on "Community Gain". He assumed that the detail of any slip road should be discussed with Halcrow (for NYCC). It was left unclear whether NGC intended to investigate further or whether they would give sympathetic consideration to a slip road.

Local traffic calming measures are proposed but NYCC could not give a date for implementation.

NGC were prepares to impose speed limits on their vehicles. They pointed out that the construction activity in Thirsk was spread over four months.

6. School Buses.

Possible interference with School buses was raised and NGC agreed to liase with the bus Contractor(Smiths), the Town Council and NYCC. NGC recognised they had to plan in advance and were interested in points where children assembled.

7. Access to Land.

Certain accesses for construction have not been agreed with Landowners. If NGC cannot negotiate for access they will use the Law to enforce a right of access which is implied by the permission to construct the line.

8. Thirsk By Pass

The problem of noise on this road where it passes the Hambleton Estate was mentioned. NGC said the A19 was used by 25,000 vehicles per day, their proposed traffic was an insignificant increase. NGC vehicles would not access or leave the A170 Sutton Road via South Kilvington but will use the A19/A168 junction by Thircon.

9. Number of Vehicles

The number of vehicles movements given was questioned and considered unrealistic. NGC said the figures came from AMEC (the proposed Contractor). Operations would not be continuous on a tower site. No answer was provided when the number of vehicles on site at any time was requested.

10. Alternative means of Access from A19

NGC agreed to study alternative access from the A19 to A170 and the possible need for a right hand turning lane at Plump Bank.

11. Sequence of Construction

Sections of the line will be released to the Contractor (generally lengths between angle towers) and several lengths may be under construction at any one time. Work will not progress from one end of the line to another.

12. Towers

Towers will be delivered in a "flat pack" form (i.e. small pieces). NGC agreed to advise the heights of towers 74,75,76 and 77. Near Thirsk lower towers had been specified.

NGC advised that towers were designed for 120mph wind speeds. They had no structural problems with towers, if they have a problem it is generally caused by lightning strikes.

The problems experienced in Canada were with smaller towers and parallel overhead lines and were caused by freezing rain.

NGC said the overhead lines were easier to repair than underground lines in the event of lightning strikes.

13. Overhead Lines V Underground Cables

The decision was one of cost. As there was no national energy policy it was left to market forces to sort out priorities.

14. Trees

NGC did not know the number of trees to be cut down (in Thirsk or in total). They reiterated they will plant four trees for each one cut down. They are also discussing planting trees of site with Local Authorities. They will advise the numbers of trees to be cut down to Thirsk Town Council.

15. Contractors Local Depots

The Contractor will wish to establish local depots. NGC hope these will be close to main highways to keep traffic off local roads.

Contractors depots will be subject to Planning Approval.

16. Maintenance Activities

NGC will:

1. Check the overhead line visually by helicopter annually
2. Check the overhead lines by helicopter with an infra red camera every five years
3. Paint the towers every twelve years
4. Renew anti climbing fences every 10 years

17. Effect on Farming/EMF etc.

When asked if overhead lines affected organic farming accreditation NGC said they knew of no effect on crops or animals.

The frequencies were different from telephone masts.

NGC relied on the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) for advice on EMF issues and the NRPB view was there was no definable risk. NGC knew of Professor Henshaw's work but Professor ' had not evaluated the consequences on human health. Professor Doll will issue a further report in April. NGC will enquire when Professor Henshaw will issue his next report.

NGC said the health of their employees working on overhead lines were monitored and there were no indications of problems. They knew of no study on Farmers. The EMF zone around overhead lines returned to normal background levels at 40m from the conductors. The conductors will be at least 7.6m above ground level.

NGC offered a leaflet on EMF emissions. NGC said the U.S concluded there was no health risk. They would take a responsible position and base their view on science. Life had to proceed on the basis of reasonable risk or nothing would be done.

NGC accepted that the public may become risk averse over EMF emissions (as GM foods) but they saw no signs of that.

It was suggested from the floor that Switzerland had problems with people living near pylons. NGC said they did not wish to go looking for problems but relied on NRPB for advice. They knew of no especially vulnerable groups. A statement on EMF emissions was requested by Sarah Costley.

18. Bass Strait Link (Tasmania - Australia)

NGC can provide details on request.

19. Additional Uses of Towers

It was confirmed by NGC that they were not permitted by their licence to use these towers for fibre optic cable or for microwave transmitters. They could use fibre optics for their own control of the line. If the power line became redundant the towers would not be left for communications use but would be removed. 

The meeting was closed.

Actions

Action Action by Outcome to be reported to
1. Vehicles turning on A170- proposals required   NYCC/NGC   Thirsk Town Council
2. Review NGC contacts with Mr Barker and confirm no changes are required to the towers on his land   NGC   Mr Ed. Barker
3. Start date   NGC   Thirsk Town Council
4. Investigate slip road onto A170   NYCC/NGC   Thirsk Town Council
5. Assess numbers of vehicles on sites at any onetime   NGC   Thirsk Town Council
6. Study alternative access A19 to A170 and possible need for right hand turning at Plump Bank.   NYCC/NGC   Thirsk Town Council
7. Advise number of trees to be cut down   NGC   Thirsk Town Council
8. Make statement on current position on EMF and health   NGC   Ms Sarah Costley
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