Public Meeting with Tim Yeo


“One thing unified each and every member of the public at the meeting: they all want the new lines, along with the existing ones put ungerground.”



Public Meeting with 

Rt Hon. Tim Yeo MP for South Suffolk. 

Meeting Held in the Chamberlin Hall, Bildeston

Report by David Holland

Public Meeting to Discuss National Grids Proposals.

On a misty October evening way over 100 people turned out and filled all the seating in the excellent facilities of the Chamberlin Hall, many having to stand around the walls. Sadly, Mr Yeo was held up by road problems and missed the majority of the initial presentation by National Grid. This was as you might expect an informative and well rehearsed presentation of their case. What followed was a well informed questioning of the information presented which showed two things. Firstly, that the assembled mass of non expert members of the public had done an enormous amount of research into the whole issue of electricity distribution and the technologies that bare on it. Secondly, that National Grid were well able to field the questions. So this evening showed that both sides in this matter are highly capable. 

I should also compliment Mr Yeo on the way in which he essentially chaired the meeting and through his management of the evening a very informative discussion ensued. This in part came about because he resisted pressure from some to keep NG's representatives in the hall answering technical questions and instead requested that the NG people left so that a frank and open discussion could take place. And this is what happened to great effect.

Various members of the public presented remarkably well researched and pertinent information covering issues such as the true financial position of National Grid and how this bears on the affordability issue when it comes to considering putting the power cables underground. Technical matters such as the cost and feasibility of high voltage DC transmission of electricity were covered as was alternative pylon designs and smart grid technology.

Importantly, the discussion showed that there was considerable support for the establishment of an umbrella organisation to represent the view of all of the people and organisations who are affected by this issue. Adam Sedgwick, Chair of Stoke by Nayland Parish Council made an erudite initial speech to this effect. Groton Pylon Alliance was held by many to be furthest advanced in their preparation of their campaign and a number of parishes had joined forces with them. A somewhat naive discussion of a name for the proposed organisation was rightly advised by Mr Yeo that a non geographical name should be chosen. 

One thing unified each and every member of the public at the meeting: they all want the new lines, along with the existing ones put ungerground.

For me a particularly poignant issue arose as the meeting was coming to an end. Mr Yeo, in process of winding up the evening asked the audience "would you be willing to pay more for your electricity in order to have the cables underground?" The answer was a unanimous yes. Then, perhaps playing devils advocate and with a smile he said "10% more?" the answer was yes, 20% more.... we all could see where this was heading and the overwhelming conclusion has to be that this is such an important matter for people that they are definitely willing to pay to rid our countryside of these ugly monstrosities. 

I have to tell you that I went to the meeting feeling skeptical. I left believing that Mr Yeo will be a powerful advocate of our collective position on the pylons issue. I also left knowing that we in Stour Valley Underground have a great number of fellow travelers with respect to this issue with whom we can collaborate and build further, an utterly compelling case to rid the beautiful Stour Valley of all vestiges of foul 20th century ironmongery.