SVU Newsletter for October 2010
Distributed Monday, 25 October 2010
Key points this month:-
Our coalition of campaigning groups grows
National Grid's corridor decision is delayed until the new year
Pressure from campaign groups starts to show real results
The Government tells National Grid to properly research underground cabling costs
Draft National Policy Statements are released still containing Government misconceptions with respect to underground cables, their costs and reliability
National Grid sign a contract with civil engineer's Costain to build a £200 million cable tunnel which means a similar one here from Bramford to Twinstead would cost £360 million complete
The publicly available details of the contract show that undergrounding costs more like 4 times the cost of lines of pylons and nothing like the missleading 12-17 times claims of National Grid
Our calculations show that a London style tunnel plus Siemens GIL underground cables from Bramford to Twinstead would cost around £300 million
The BBC swallows NG propaganda in BBC 4's History of the National Grid documentary and wrongly quotes underground cable costs as being 17 times that for pylons
Scottish Power Renewables and Vattenfall (SPN&V) announce the huge 7.2 gigawatt Anglia 1 windfarm off the Norfolk/ Suffolk coast and National Grid offer connection at Bramford
SPN&V announce that they will do their best to effect the connection from the sea to Bramford underground
We show that the connection offer from NG is not the best choice and causes a transmission bottleneck at Bramford
We present a better way to connect the windfarm that avoids more pylons and makes best use of existing infrastructure
We meet with Essex councils and present a more regional and strategic view of the pylons issue
We call for collaboration between the county councils of East Anglia to develop a response to National Grids proposals to what is a region wide environmental threat from the energy industry
Hello and welcome to the October newsletter from Stour Valley Underground.
Firstly, our campaigning coalition has grown withSuffolk Preservation Society (CPRE),The Essex Branch of CPRE and theCPRE Nationally joining forces withThe Colne-Stour Countryside Association,The Dedham Vale Society (DVS),Bury not Blight (BnB)and of course Stour Valley Underground (SVU). Our steering group meets regularly to develop our strategy and we exchange information on an almost daily basis.
The Pylons Consultation
Let's start with National Grid's already delayed pylon corridor decision and by the beginning of this week we realised that National Grid would not possibly be in a position to answer all of the questions we have put to them before the new year. Having discussed this with a reporter from "Stop the Pylons" campaign daily newspaper, the EADT, he put this to NG and they conformed the unavoidable truth. So it's official - no decision till the New Year.
We see this as a sign that our campaign is really impacting the consultation and that our pressure groups are setting the agenda. This month that agenda centres around underground cables.
Government /National Grid to Look Into Underground Cable Costs
As you may know we have put a great deal of effort into responding to the various consultations that the Government/DECC are conducting into many aspects of the future o the energy system in the UK. Last week the Government released the draft National Policy Statements on Energy Infrastructure (NPS) which contained the governments responses to the consultation so far. The document is available on the web (through the DECC site) but to cut to the chase: section 5.15 on page 64 tells National Grid to research underground cabling properly and a jointly commissioned report should be out by Christmas. This is quite a result as we have been pushing for this to be done for a year now.
The draft NPS still contain misconception and erroneous opinions from the Government especially with respect to the cost of underground cabling in that they say they are vastly more expensive than pylons, less reliable and more costly to repair. Our research has discovered underground cable technologies that cost similar amounts to pylon lines across their lifetime and are more reliable and long lived to boot. The results of the NG/Government research into undergrounding will be really interesting because there is every prospect the results will totally overturn what NG has been telling the public since the start of the consultation.
And this is why....
In the press lately there have been reports of the contract signed between civil engineers Costain and National Grid to build a transmission cable tunnel inLondon. The costs are there for all to see and you do not have to be an engineer to work out that such a tunnel plus cables from Bramford to Twinstead would cost £360 million which is a fraction of the figure National Grid have talked of for such a connection. And there is another point. If National Grid were to tunnel, as they are in London, there would be no need for the current planning process or for the consultation. The saving from just this could be measured in £millions.
Siemens have been very helpful in providing us with costings and information on their Gas Insulated Lines (GIL) which offer huge transmission capacity, low heat output and high reliability. And GIL is a tested technology - a GIL system has been running in Germany for decades. Full detail of the highly credible calculations are available on our website. Suffice it to say that they are based on the costs of tunnels that are derived from actual contract prices and cost estimates from Siemens. So how much for an appropriately specified underground connection from Bramford to Twinstead? £300 million. If you want to check our maths - go towww.stourvalleyunderground.org.uk
Misinformation from the BBC
Sadly, it is not all good news this month. The BBC has swallowed NG's misinformation on underground cable costs and will broadcast a BBC4 documentary in which they state both verbally and visually that underground cables cost 17 times what lines on pylons do. The documentary will be broadcast on the 26th October and it is a poor reflection on the depth of research they put into what is a controversial issue with huge implication for the landscape of the UK in future. Maybe as this program is about the History of the National Grid they can claim 17 times was true in 1930: thanks to Siemens, it's certainly not true in 2010.
The Anglia 1 Windfarm
It's a busy time for news related to this issue just now. As we said earlier,Scottish Power Renewables and Vattenfall (SPN&V) announced the development of the Anglia 1 windfarm and National Grid offered a connection at Bramford.SPN&V announced that they would do their best to ensure the connection from the coast to Bramford would go underground but even this is the wrong strategy in our opinion. We have developed an alternative strategy that best uses existing pylon connections to the grid at Bramford and Bradwell in Essex where another new nuclear power station is proposed. Put simply, if the majority of the power from this huge windfarm is connected to Bradwell with the remainder connected through Bramford, all that is needed is to fully upgrade the transmission lines on the existing pylon lines both in this area and from Bradwell down to Rayleigh. This provides more than adequate capacity with no need for additional pylons. Naturally, we have put this idea in full toSPN&V, NG and the DECC. We will let you know what they have to say when we get a response.
Taking our Case to the Essex Councils
At the beginning of last week we met with the county and district councils in Essex to discuss the pylon issue. We perhaps made one of the biggest and most easily missed points in this issue which is that this is a regional issue that involves at least Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. We believe that the councils really need to be collaborating on this and looking at the implication of our fast changing energy systemfor this part of the country. It is simply not adequate to think about the ugliness of pylons in the Stour Valley or anywhere else in isolation. How the windfarm is connected will affect the whole area as will the future need for the as yet unplanned gas powered power stations that will surely be needed in this region. Unless some truly strategic, regional thinking starts to bear on the developments we are discussing we risk an ugly peacemeal outcome that hampers the whole nation economically.
Well that is probably more than enough news for one newsletter.Our campaign is bearing fruit and we have in truth made some remarkable steps forward in the last few months. We are truly grateful to everyone who supports and contributes to our campaign and that also includes everyone from Siemans communications manager to our chief researcher's Mum who rings him to let him know about every relevant snippet of information she finds in her daily paper - it all makes a difference. So if you know something that you think might help - tell us. This campaign is made up of tiny pieces of information that are checked to the best of our ability and then assembled into a coherent argument for an energy system that is right for us all and frees our landscape from the blight of pylons. We are certain that with your help and support, achieving this is "do-able"