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Shareholders Press for Commitment on Environment at National Grid AGM - 27 July 2000

The Press release below is not from REVOLT, but action is being taken with REVOLT's agreement and support.

Press Statement - for immediate release 7 July 2000  text file for download

National Grid AGM - 27 July 2000

Shareholders Press for Commitment on Environment

Over 100 shareholders have taken the unusual step of trying to force National Grid Group Plc to face up to its responsibilities over the environment. They have banded together and put a resolution to the AGM - in Birmingham International Convention Centre at 11 am on Thursday 27 July - pressing the Directors to take seriously their responsibilities for preserving the amenity and landscape of areas where they have electricity pylons and transmission lines, and where they are being considered.

Forced to Act after Ten Years

National Grid has been privatised for ten years. Under its licence (as set out in Schedule 9 of the Electricity Act 1989) the National Grid Company has a duty to have regard to the preservation of amenity in formulating proposals for installation of its power lines. In their reaction to the shareholder's resolution the Directors state that they " .. recognise that .. the environment has become a matter of wider community and political concern. It is therefore timely to initiate a review of the Schedule 9 Statement ..." We shareholders ask "Why, has it taken our action to get the Directors to recognise their responsibilities to the environment of the people they serve? They advertise themselves as 'the brains of Britain' and have not needed any reminder to put an earlier resolution on the AGM Agenda - to review the Executive Share Option Plan."

Why Act Now?

Many aspects of the original Schedule 9 statement produced by NGG in 1991 - and now out of date - have been disregarded; the company has taken little account of the need to inform and involve other stakeholders in decisions, including the communities who are affected by large power lines. This has been illustrated starkly by their actions in proposing a new 50 mile 400 kV transmission line proposed to cross North Yorkshire down the Vale of York between the North York Moors and the Dales national parks. So-called consultation has been at arms length, through a public relations company, relying on the Public Inquiry process and a close relationship with the Trade and Industry Department to force through the proposed line - the need for which is still strongly contested. These proposals and any future ones - in England & Wales or elsewhere in the world where National Grid is operating - need to be considered taking seriously the concerns of all stakeholders, including local communities, as well as the needs of consumers - who are often the same people.

Why are Shareholders bothered?

It's easy to be cynical and suggest that as long as National Grid produces a good dividend and shareholder value then why worry? We do not seek environmental improvement which would threaten the company's prosperity. It is in the interests of good governance for longer term prosperity that a more inclusive approach to all stakeholders should be developed. This is why we have put our resolution to the National Grid AGM and why we have written to some larger and institutional shareholders to support it. Through this press release we invite others to publicise our efforts and encourage shareholders to support it either directly or by sending their proxy votes to the address below*.

Where next?

The Directors have opposed our resolution, but a significant vote by other shareholders in favour of it - if not a majority - will send an important message to them of the strong wish that they take their responsibilities on the environment seriously. We seek this support, and are happy that our unusual efforts have made National Grid Directors acknowledge that they now need to reconsider their position. We will press for quick and positive action.

Note to editors:

Contacts: Peter Johnson Tel: 01845 537443 email: peter-j@hnson.fslife.co.uk 

Ian Cunniffe Tel: 01845 537415 email: cunniffe@tesco.net

Information against proposed North Yorks Transmission line: http://www.revolt.co.uk/

*You are invited to provide the following name and address for proxy votes: Peter Johnson, Ashford Cottage, Borrowby, Thirsk, North Yorkshire YO7 4QP

 

Resolution 14 as requisitioned by shareholders reads:

"That the Statement required under Schedule 9 of the Electricity Act 1989, currently adopted by the Company be reviewed and modified as soon as practicable, and if possible before 31 December 2000, in order to embody a more inclusive approach to all stakeholders, including the public affected by power lines. In carrying out the review, a task group including appropriate board members, and shareholders to be nominated by those supporting the presentation of this resolution, shall have regard to the Draft revised statement which follows, which shall be made available also to all consultees, statutory and otherwise."

Draft revised statement

1. The Company (NGG including its subsidiaries and associates) will comply with all statutory requirements of the countries in which it operates.

2. The Company undertakes to preserve amenity of the areas where it operates and to employ best practice available subject to any additional amenity related costs being recoverable through the charges permitted by the Regulator.

3. The Company will meet all local and national bodies whose members or populations may be affected by the Company's activities and will accommodate their views subject always to the provisions to paragraph 2.

4. Environmental statements will be prepared for all schemes which impact on National Parks, SSI, Conservation areas and areas within 10 km of the boundaries of National Parks and SSI.

5. The Company's land holding will be managed in a way that safeguards their landscape, nature conservation and archaeological features and the Company will maintain all historic buildings it owns whether listed or not and will take the best advice available before undertaking work on such sites.

6. The Company will ensure it has access to and makes use of the appropriate expertise whether in house or external to the Company.

7. The Company will make their staff aware of the high priority it places on environmental and amenity issues and will train its staff accordingly.

8. The Company will make sure its subcontractors are aware of its obligations and all subcontractors will ensure all their sub-contracts will reflect such obligations.

9. The Company will support or initiate research into the effects of its activities on third parties. Where problems for others are identified the Company will take all necessary action to remedy or mitigate undesirable or unintended effects.

10. The Company will report annually to its share holders and any interested parties on its activities which affect amenity or environment.

11. The Company will provide a full disclosure in all its dealings with the public and local authorities and will provide the reasons for its developments, its activities and the results achieved.

End

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