outline at 4.10.00
Objectors have a long list of grievances, mainly with NGC but also with DTI, over the long proceedings for the Yorkshire line. This is a sketch of some of them, for reference.
1. Grievances against NGC:
(a) there is firm evidence of unannounced and illegal entry onto land causing crop damage, later admitted by NGC (eg Raw's farm near Welbury and evidence elsewhere),
(b) there are massive (eg 10 times) discrepancies in traffic figures, both vehicle numbers and weights, as given at the public inquiries and in the Environmental Statement, compared with the larger figures now revealed in access planning applications,
(c) at the core of its case for this line, NGC had to rely on departing from the literal meaning of its licence standards (PLM SP1 and SP2) in order to make its case,
(d) in its central financial appraisal, NGC disadvantaged all the options without the Yorkshire line, including the zero option, thus favouring its own proposal, by imposing on those other options the additional imported power from Scotland which is contractually prohibited from such imposition,
(e) in its central financial appraisal, NGC relied on high estimates of constraint costs (67m pounds in the north largely attributed to the lack of this line, while refusing to disclose details) which were a gross exaggeration as constraint costs for the whole country have fallen to around 20m,
(f) although NGC's case to the inquiries was that installing the Yorkshire line would have the benefit of greatly reducing constraint costs, the 1996 Transmission Price Control Review revealed that NGC had applied to OFFER for allowed charges to meet the INCREASED constraint costs it expected to result from the line (apparently as a result of further bottlenecks created elsewhere to the south by the increased Scottish imports facilitated by the line),
(g) at the public inquiries NGC said that if faced with undergrounding it would in the first instance install underground cables to only half the capacity of the overhead line because of cost, yet is now proposing a full rated system with a 40 metre swathe whereas the half rated one would leave only a 7 metre swathe (because of the access road between two pairs of trenches in the full case),
(h) NGC personnel pursued a case against a local farmer, pressing a complaint to the police and appearing as CPS witnesses, with allegations which were plainly contradictory in themselves and with the facts, which was severely criticised by the Teesside Crown Court judge who dismissed it,
(i) NGC had "seriously overestimated" its expenses in its submissions to OFFER, and was strongly criticised by both OFFER and its independent consultants in the Transmission Price Control Review 1996, the "serious overestimates" (tantamount to deception for financial gain) having caused excessive profits of 0.6 billion pa for a number of years, from income of 1.1b against outgoings of 0.4b, an unjustifiably high level of profit (and price charged),
(j) in making its original case, NGC presented three circuits as if they were two in order to make the double-circuit outage requirement more severe, thereby unfairly strengthening its case (this arose from two circuits not being properly connected at Norton, the remedy being to connect them properly not to build another line),
(k) when asked by Anne McIntosh MP for details of trees to be felled, NGC withheld the information except in NCIs (areas of nature conservation interest) where disclosure is required,
(l) NGC presented details for access at Picton, suggesting it was for one pylon erection, whereas there are 10 pylon erections or dismantlings arising from the connections and temporary towers,
(m) the High Court determined recently in a well publicised case that NGC acted illegally in raiding its pension funds.
2. No confidence in proceedings: (amended 10.9.98, 20.9.00 and 4.10.00 )
Objectors have shown they have no confidence in the proceedings for the L-P-S power line, either those of DTI for hearings and inquiries or those of NGC and information it supplies.
First, the DTI proceedings: suggestions of "complicity" and comments of "sham and shambles" were made in a closing submission of 23.11.94 to the second set of wayleave hearings conducted by Mr Walker (enc.1). These were not noted in his report, although he reported some of the factors under "The case for the objectors", e.g. in 4.5 and 4.8.
The New Developments doc of 22.10.96 to SoS, with its appendices, makes clear the reasons for lack of confidence in the 1992 proceedings (sec.1), the 1994 wayleave hearings (sec.2), the 1995 inquiries (sec.3) and the unreliability of NGC's evidence (secs. 5 and 9). Enclosures 2 and 3 were REV 210 dealing with wayleave misinformation and REV 301.21 with inducements in detail. Other enclosures dealt with NGC's financial misinformation, to the inquiries and elsewhere.
Other factors mentioned in those docs are the hastily fragmented hearings, last minute increases in inducements not to appear, late re-serving of most wayleave requests, changes in tower heights, errors of fact and of identity of grantors, and apparently prejudicial motives of inspectors.
Hambleton DC formally objected to Mr Walker's appointment in 1995 claiming the inspector should be unconnected with the previous proceedings. Their objection was rejected.
The Bruntons' first wayleave hearing was abortive due to a mistake by NGC about gas pipes, so they had to go to the expense of a second hearing for an adjusted line position, at extra expense for which NGC resisted compensation. Now DTI has blundered over the Wilkinsons, having confused Mr DA Wilkinson and Mr MJ Wilkinson, and hence having omitted to report on the "necessary wayleave" over Mr DA Wilkinson, causing his hearing to be re-opened at the end of 1998.
An oversail of Mr Osborne's land at Crosby has been omitted and only brought to light in summer 1998, when NGC has made a new request for the wayleave. A new hearing was scheduled for Jan 1999, though Mr Osborne declined to attend as he wouldn't get a fair hearing.
DTI Inspector Mr Dolbey-Jones was particularly arrogant and rude at the hearings for the Kilvington Estate in January 1999. Formal complaints were made by three separate parties. The inspector refused to hear evidence, having deemed it irrelevant, yet heard NGC evidence on some of the same points, especially an Addendum to Proof of Evidence about the specific wayleave issue of the width of the land affected. At the site visit, which was otherwise quiet and orderly, the inspector demanded to confiscate a camera and threatened physical violence upon an objector (a mature senior local government officer) in front of several witnesses. A formal complaint to DTI was dismissed without any witnesses being consulted.
One of the conditions of consent, on tree replacement, was determined by Sec of State by approving a scheme which unnecessarily frustrates the stated reason for the condition (to ensure replacement) by relying on land being volunteered without compensation.
These incomplete lists are intended as an indication of the extent of public grievance and lack of confidence in the NGC, DTI and the procedures which have steamrollered this project through.