opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development
REVOLT Newsletter 218
Revolt news 23/12/2006
1. The SAGE process has hit a snag. The Main Group meeting which was to have tried to finalise the SAGE Report on 12th December has been postponed. The process continues with a view to completing a report in the spring. A statement will appear on the SAGE website http://www.rkpartnership.co.uk/sage/
2. The Swiss, like a few other countries, are many years ahead of us on precaution for EMFs. They adopted a precautionary Ordinance in 2000. Their sensible report "Electrosmog in the environment" covers EMFs from electricity supply, home appliances and wiring, trains, mobile phones and masts and broadcast systems. It is available in pdf or free hard copy. See http://www.environment-switzerland.ch/electrosmog/
3. Local groups are opposing a proposed large substation on a green field site to bring power ashore from the proposed 270 turbine London Array wind farm in the Thames Estuary. (APPENDIX A). The link to GREAT (Graveney Rural Environmental Action Team) can be found through http://www.graveney-village.co.uk
4. Snips from news@all-energy issues 77 (early December) and 78 (Christmas) are at APPENDIX B.
5. The newspapers reported the criticism of wind energy from the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), showing that performance in England has been less than forecast and questioning the viability of wind power. One report spun to down-play the REF, under the subheading "Anti wind group's view of windfarms". That was by news@all-energy, a pro-wind group masquerading as an independent news service. To be fair, they do collect a broad range of renewable energy news, so it's a useful service. Yes, the REF is essentially an anti-wind group, but news@all- energy goes on to emphasise the higher performance "in north Scotland and on Shetland, where wind turbines are producing capacity factors of more than 50pc", without mentioning that some 25% or more of that would be lost in long-distance transmission.
6. As the Beauly-Denny inquiry draws nearer (starting in February), speculations about under-grounding and related projects grows. (APPENDICES C, D and E)
7. Dermot Finnigan's battle with National Grid goes on. He writes "You maybe aware that NGT have served court papers on me. They want a court to determine my boundary instead of the Land registry which has appointed an adjudicator, this is after the Chairman directing me to the land register to do so. I have tried to raise the finance to employ Council to defend my family but I am unable to do so." He is seeking to represent himself in the proceedings at Altringham County Court. See also http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/uk_news/england/manchester/6196761.stm .
8. Population and its environmental impact are in the news again, in a BBC news website article on 8th December, "Birth rate 'harms poverty goals'" by Richard Black. The All Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health will publish a report later this month. While this is more about Africa, the surge in new-EU migrants to UK, seemingly important for economic development, also highlights strains on natural resources and space. With pressures for more homes, water supply, transport, wind-farms and pylons, and less countryside, we might ask what is the optimum population for Britain?
9. National Grid accepts Ofgem's transmission price controls. Some £5 billion is to be spent on the UK gas and electricity grids over five years (APPENDIX F).
APPENDIX A London Array wind farm substation.
GREAT Chairman Tim Baldwin writes 10 Dec 06:
The site chosen by London Array for the cable landfall and substation is greenfield and in an SLA directly adjacent to a RAMSAR site through which the cables will have to run. Alternative brownfield sites such as at the Isle of Grain and at Bradwell in Essex have been considered and rejected on technical or cost grounds. The nature of the flat and very open coastal site has made it impossible to conceal the proposed substation.
One of the many grounds for objection that helped have the original planning application rejected was that the landscaping proposed (earth bunding and tree-screening) was itself an intrusion and inappropriate in the open landscape. The developer has responded by putting forward a new design that takes an opposite approach and is intended to be a visible feature. This new design has been chosen between the initial rejection and the appeal and so is now to be considered as part of the appeal, if the Inspector agrees to consider it! You can see the drawings and photomontage on www.londonarray.com via a link on the homepage.
We are very much feeling the effects of the political pressure to speed the process up. The start date for the appeal was 9th Oct and the Public Inquiry has been fixed to start as early as 6th March without us being consulted, even though we are a Rule 6 party in the appeal. This is an acute problem as the barrister we have instructed, who has read the papers and checked our Statement of Case, is unavailable for the relevant period. Pleas by our planning consultant to have the date reviewed have fallen on deaf ears thus far and the LPA are also under political pressure not to rock the boat.
It seems to me that the developer made an early misjudgement in selecting this site and is now probably going to win simply because they have invested so much time and money in this ill-conceived application, even though morally they should lose.
APPENDIX B Snips from news@all-energy 77 early December 2006.
1.THE UK CHANCELLOR'S PRE-BUDGET REPORT
Planning decisions on major infrastructure projects are to be made by an independent planning body; tax discounts for biofuels will be extended; from next year, most carbon-zero homes will be exempt from stamp duty http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6213328.stm
Britain's first carbon-capture and storage plant will be built next year - but only if costs are kept down. Gordon Brown announced the public- funded demonstration plant as an indication of how seriously the Government is taking the challenges of climate change. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2490983,00.html
People who generate their own energy, using a wind turbine for example, will pay no income tax on any surplus energy they sell to the National Grid http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2491287,00.html
TUC's view of CCS and Energy Inst in PBR: " ....We also welcome the commitment to boost green enterprise in the UK, through the £550m in public and private contributions raised for the new Energy Technologies Institute. The Chancellor is right to stress the importance of developing carbon capture and storage by announcing new initiatives in this area. We hope this is just the beginning of a more extensive and rapid series of projects designed to develop and roll-out this crucial technology. Such technology can create significant new employment and industrial opportunities in the UK" http://www.tuc.org.uk/economy/tuc-12754-f0.cfm
The summary and speech etc. are all at http://prebudget2006.treasury.gov.uk
4.1.£5bn investment in networks
Ofgem continues to pave the way for upgrading Britain's energy networks by authorising funding for more than £5 billion of investment in Britain's gas and electricity transmission systems over the next five years. http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/
Almost £800 million is to be spent upgrading the UK's ageing electricity and gas transmission infrastructure by ScottishPower and Scottish Hydro- Electric. http://www.bipcontracts.com/cgi-bin/newsroom/
5.1.The Barker Review
The 266-page Barker Review of Land Use Planning is at http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/media/4EB/AF/barker_finalreport051206.pdf BWEA has welcomed the Barker Review's findings and recommendations, which put sustainability right at the heart of the planning system, identifying planning as playing a vital role in the mitigation and adaptation to climate change. http://www.bwea.com/media/news/061205barker.html
and from issue 78:
3.2.Power links to Western Isles Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission Limited (SHETL), a subsidiary of SSE, has published a new consultation document on the possible development of a new high voltage electricity transmission line capable of accommodating power from possible renewable energy developments on the Western Isles and to connect this to the existing mainland transmission network at Beauly http://www.scottish-southern.co.uk/
3.6.New from Ofgem 'A security standard for offshore transmission networks' - an initial joint DTI/Ofgem consultation http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/
3.7.Beauly-Denny latest The energy company behind plans to upgrade a power line between the Highlands and Central Scotland has ruled out burying it underground. The line, proposed by Scottish and Southern Energy, would see 600 pylons built on a 137-mile route http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/highlands_and_islands/6175135.stm
12.1.Geo-pressure - new kid on the block Geo-pressure, a green energy source that could provide 1GW of power by harnessing the pressure of the earth's interior has officially been added to the UK's renewables mix after receiving renewable accreditation from Ofgem http://www.web4water.co.uk/news/story.asp?story=12408
APPENDIX C Beauly-Denny and related projects from http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk/
HOPES ARE RAISED OVER UNDERGROUND POWER CABLE
IAIN RAMAGE 08:50 - 09 December 2006
Strong signs emerged yesterday that a subsea cable to transmit power from proposed Western Isles windfarms, coming ashore at Little Loch Broom in Wester Ross, could be laid underground as far south as Beauly.
Scottish and Southern Energy's (SSE) preferred option of burying the transmission line - rather than stringing it across giant pylons - emerged in the latest of a series of phone calls to landowners along the route.
Anti-pylons campaigners in the area were jubilant. However, further consultation will follow, and there was no sign that SSE would budge on its favoured choice of an overland route for an upgraded transmission line between Beauly and Denny.
Among the latest landowners to be contacted by the company was environmental contractor John Urquhart, who has fought proposals for both pylons and a windfarm beside his home at Lochluichart, near Garve.
He said: "I'm pleased they have taken on board people's concerns, but I still think the subsea option to the south is the best from an environmental point of view although it does still leave people concerned about windfarms on Lewis high and dry if they do this."
Stephen Mackenzie, whose family have farmed at Auchmore, near Muir of Ord, for 35 years, was also thrilled that SSE's focus had switched to underground cables. "I was told it was their intention to be cabling underground, somewhere near the existing 132Kv lines which go over the property," he said.
"We are an attractive rural landscape and to have another set of cables going over the top of us would be detrimental to our environment and the tourists' environment although, as landowners, we have reservations as well because it leads to its own problems of disruption."
An SSE spokesman said a consultation document on its options for the isles link was likely to be circulated next week. He said: "We've approached landowners because it's only right and proper that those people who are directly affected should be aware of what's happening in respect of their land."
Asked if SSE would now consider underground cables as a preferred option he said: "We have absolutely no intention of undergrounding the line between Beauly and Denny. The proposal that is going to be the subject of a public inquiry is for an overhead line and it's a decision that we've taken on that line."
Sue Hopkinson, of Scotland Before Pylons, said: "We would prefer there not to be a Lewis windfarm. If the Lewis windfarm goes ahead, we think the right option is to take the power subsea direct to its southern market. This would be the least environmentally damaging option
"If it has to go overland, then our bottom line would be: yes, we'd be very pleased if it went underground rather than in high-voltage overground cables on pylons."
APPENDIX D Underground power line ruled out
The energy company behind plans to upgrade a power line between the Highlands and Central Scotland has ruled out burying it underground.
The line, proposed by Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), would see 600 pylons built on a 137-mile route.
SSE has launched a public consultation exercise on plans to put a line connecting the Western Isles to the mainland underground and undersea.
However, it said this technology was unfit for the Beauly to Denny line.
A public inquiry is to be held on the route next year following the level of objections to the pylons from councils and protest groups.
The new public consultation document published by Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission Limited - a subsidiary of SSE - relates to a plan for a new high voltage electricity line to link renewable energy sources on the Western Isles to the mainland electricity network at Beauly near Inverness.
It is proposed to bury cables between sub-stations on Lewis and the island's shoreline.
It also proposes to lay cables under the sea from Lewis to Little Loch Broom and from there underground to Beauly.
It is estimated the project would cost £375m.
In a statement on its website, SSE said the technology needed to put a high voltage direct current (HVDC) underground would not work for burying the Beauly to Denny line.
This is something campaigners have been calling for to avoid having large pylons in the Highlands landscape.
SSE said: "The HVDC technology is not suitable for the proposed replacement of the existing Beauly-Denny transmission line with an upgraded line."
"That line is part of the main interconnected transmission system.
"The scheme to upgrade it features three intermediate points where it is necessary for the line to collect additional power: Fort Augustus, Errochty and Braco."
The Western Isles link is being driven by the islands' potential to become a powerful source of wind and wave energy.
It is proposed to build 181 wind turbines on Lewis.
APPENDIX E Messages from Sue Hopkinson and statement from Highlands Before Pylons
The developers are hoping to stitch up the western highlands as follows:
* January the executive reports on decision re Lewis Windfarms
* SSE reveals details of its plan for interconnector from Stornoway to Beauly
* Lochluichart waits to hear if the windfarm is going through on the nod
* Beauly to Denny Inquiry gets great boost if the above go ahead.
Later, Sue wrote: Please alert everyone who might be persuaded to write again. Deadline mid.Feb. but the sooner the better. The situation now is that everyone thinks that HBP has won a famous victory...in fact SSE appears to have done little or no surveying of their new preferred route and have only to say that it is unacceptable to ofgem to go back to original scheme....
Statement from HIGHLANDS BEFORE PYLONS:
Western Isles Interconnector Consultation - make your views known to SHETL
SHETL (Scottish Hydro-Electric Transmission Ltd) has selected a strategic corridor from Stornoway to Little Loch Broom and then underground to Beauly as its preferred option for a Western Isles interconnector, "should it prove necessary to accommodate output from renewable energy schemes which may be developed on the Western Isles". Dr K MacLean SHETL
UNCERTAINTY REMAINS .This sounds like good news. Compared with a pylon line it would have relatively little impact along its route, but the proposal could still be rejected on economic or environmental grounds.Ofgem, theUK government transmission regulator confirmed to HBP that funding for undergrounding it is not a foregone conclusion . ""A preferred route has also been identified for an overhead line solution in the event that the underground solution proves unacceptable". SHETL
ARDMAIR Bay would be the starting point for this route for an overhead line of 50m.pylons to Beauly . There would not necessarily be a fresh consultation and a spokesman for the company states: "we are seeking comments on ALL aspects of the document"
HBP urges everyone who has supported their campaign to banish the prospect of these pylons to write to SHETL stating 1.Their preference for a subsea cable directly south from Stornoway , as AMEC is now considering. 2.Their outright objection to any scheme that would involve overhead lines to Beauly 3. Their reasons for preferring an underground cable if an overland route goes ahead.
NB Putting forward views on this proposal does not imply support for the Lewis Windfarms. Wave and Tidal power developments could need an interconnector.
Write to: Dr Keith MacLean, Major Projects,Inveralmond House, 200,Dunkeld Road,Perth PH1 3AQ
APPENDIX F UK's National Grid accepts regulator's transmission fee proposal
The UK's National Grid Friday said it accepted in principle regulator Ofgem's final proposals for the Transmission Owner Price Control for the five-year period starting April 1, 2007.
The UK's Office of Gas and Electricity Markets December 4 proposed new transmission fees that would allow more than GBP5 billion ($9.8 billion) of investment in Britain's gas and electricity transmission systems through 2012, and initially raise overall transmission charges to consumers by 8%.
Steve Holliday, National Grid's chief executive-designate, said the new rates would allow an attractive return for investors.
"We believe that the proposals, although challenging, now offer an acceptable balance of risk and reward. As a result of this review we will substantially increase investment in our transmission networks, although some of the investment which we had proposed will be deferred until the following price control period," Holliday said.
After the first year increase of 8%, electricity transmission revenues will then increase by an additional 2% above the rate of inflation each year, Ofgem said. Gas transmission revenues will increase in line with inflation.
The Ofgem proposal included a 4.4% rate of return on capital for National Grid.
Ofgem proposed National Grid Gas capital expenditures at GBP825 million, and National Grid Electricity Transmission capital expenditures at almost GBP3 billion.
Scottish Power Transmission and Scottish Hydro-Electric Transmission also were covered by the proposal.
-- Mike O'Carroll
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