Not all paths through the countryside lead to pylons - something National Grid have to learn. Here in the Daws Hall Nature Reserve we see the landscape blighting that electricity pylons cause all too clearly.
SVU July 2010 Newsletter
Thursday, 8 July 2010
Hello and welcome to our July 2010 Newsletter,
Over that last 10 months Stour Valley Underground has set out to fight your corner with respect to National Grid's (NG's) pylons proposals and we have looked in depth at reasonable alternatives to blighting our landscape with pylons. But as you know this is a huge task and we are grateful to be able to collaborate in an informal coalition of the engaged, namely Dedham Vale Society, Colne-Stour Countryside Association and Bury not Blight. We are also actively supported by Braintree District Council and Essex County Council.We are similarly very glad to report that the Suffolk council's position is developing markedly and is now very much closer to ours.Following on from our very useful meeting with the other groups plus National Grid and the Government's IPC ,John Pitchford,Spatial Planning and Sub Regional Partnership Manager atSuffolkCounty Council has writtena letterto all of the above named groups that essentially seeks a collaborative approach to acquiring more independent technical advice on electrical engineering matters associated with NG's proposals. The contents of this letter shows that SCC are very much in accord with our views on the failings in NG's proposals and consultation and they have made very considerable inroads into researching this issue. This coming together of interest groups and local government to fight for the right decisions for us all is very important because it makes our lobbying of National Grid, and indeed Government far more coherent and focussed and also means that we have access to far more expertise and knowledge on this issue.
Some of the information that this collaboration brings to light may have quite a dramatic effect on the outcome of this issue. For example, from one ofBury not Blight's researchers comes the reliably sourced information that EDF, who own the smaller line of pylons that come through Twinstead are not willing to collaborate with National Grid who as you know want to take over the EDF pylon line and replace it with much bigger one. This fact alone blows much of NG's corridore 1&2 proposals out of the water but brings with it further worry. NG could move to propose a third pylon line from Bramford to Twinstead and what a disaster for our countryside that would be. But we do not in truth fear this because time and tide are running our way and the latest developments in Government action and also in technology should lead to the type of solution we have long been advocating.
As we reported earlier, we made an extensive response to the last government's consultation on the Government Policy Statements on energy that control the way investments in electricity grid are made. This is because as they were, they precluded the solutions we are proposing. We were worried that even in the revised form they would still hamstring grid developments and only allow old technology solutions.From the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) we have now received the following:-
I am just dropping you a line because, given your interest in the Energy National Policy Statements, you may be interested to hear that Charles Hendry announced in Parliament today that we plan toreconsulton the Energy National Policy Statements this Autumn.(full statement at end of this newsletter). So the Government clearly realises that we are truly on the brink of an energy revolution and that it must look again at how the grid must develop.
In the houses of Parliament, Tessa Munt MP, a lady who knows the Sudbury area well and now represents Wells in Somerset made her maiden speech in the House of Commons and brought the issue of the blighting of the landscape with pylons, strongly to the attention of all MP's
The full text of her speech is athttp://www.libdemvoice.org/tessa-munt-mps-maiden-speech-20153.html
We are certainly not alone in fighting the cause we do. In Somerset, Mark Parish Council have sent NG a fulsome rejection of both the consultation and the connection strategy NG propose to link the planned new reactors at Hinkley Point Nuclear Powerstation to the grid. Reading it gives one a sense of deja vu as NG's approach and the Council's arguments so closely mirror what we are experiencing. We are in regular contact with the Somerset groups and this has already resulted in a good deal of valuable cross fertilisation of our campaigns. The Somerset campaign enjoys the full support of their respective MP's and as well as Tessa, Dr Liam Fox is working to support them and in a recent letter said:-
I am sorry not to have further progress to give you. I know, however, thatChris Huhne has met with National Grid and his Department are consideringwhat further actions they can take. I have spent some time with himpointing out that this decision will set a precedent and that the CoalitionGoverment cannot be seen to measure worth simply in monetary terms. I will,of course, be in touch as soon as I hear anything.
The Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP
Secretary of State for Defence
We very much hope to see this level of support and engagement from our own constituency MP's and endeavour at all times to keep them abreast of developments on this issue. We therefore urge everyone to write to them to encourage this. Contact details for them are, as ever, on our web site.
Stour Valley Underground continues to reject nimbyism and fight a campaign that looks for the right technical and political solutions that will lead to a decision on energy distribution that is right for the whole Nation. The decision we are campaigning for will also rid us of the threat of further pylons and will potentially lead, in time, to the removal of all pylon lines, replacing them with an undersea grid.
We sincerely hope that having waded through our rather long and sometimes complicated newsletters you will by this point be heartened at the progress we have made.8 monthsago we talked of the coming Smart Grid and people thought it science fiction but our words appeared in recent election documents and now it is Government Policy. 5 months ago we started talking of putting the grid undersea and again we were told the ideas were pie in the sky and again, the implementation of undersea grids are now Government policy and are being implemented right now. The depth and sophistication of responses to National Grid that we have seen from the Dedham Vale AONB and latterly from Suffolk County Council give us greater confidence than ever that we can prevail in this campaign. The East Anglian Daily Times continues to lead the public awareness campaign with their "Stop the Pylons" slogan and they too must by now feel that they are fronting a winning team with all of the interest groups collaborating to such effect.
We would like to close by heartily thanking all of those who work so tirelessly on this campaign. The interest groups, the council officers and indeed councillors have all travelled a long way in getting to grips with this issue and their efforts are hugely commendable. Together we are a winning team and our prize will be a landscape that is natural and free of pylons plus an energy supply system that is both an environmental and an economic asset to the whole Nation - a fitting legacy to leave the generations to come who have the privilege of living or visiting thisbeautiful countryside.
Less urgency than ever?
Some days ago there was a news item on Look East about an EDF / Chamber of Commerce meeting in which the BBC stated the timeline for Sizewell C's 2 reactors being operational in 2025 !! Another 5 year slippage - NG's TEC update on 7th July still had the operational date as 2020. We asked EDF to confirm whether the BBC report is correct but only received the current official response which came from British Energy (part of EDF) and is:-Our estimated timescale for Sizewell C is for the Planning and Consenting stage to be completed by the end of 2012. Site preparation and construction is then expected to take place over the period 2013-2020.We in SVU remain very skeptical of this time frame as to date, they have never completed the building and commissioning of any nuclear generator in so short a time scale.
And yet more uncertainty...
From the Somerset Pressure Groups that fight to keep the Mendip Hills and the Somerset Levels free of pylons we hear that it is likely that the Electricity Act 1989 will be revised by the new Government. This means that there is even more uncertainty in the governance of the energy industry ( as we have reported recently, the Government Policy Statements and the distribution grid security rules, SQSS are currently under revision). This again begs the question: is this a sensible time to be even thinking about further blighting the landscape with pylons?
Funding independent research
As mentioned earlier, Suffolk County Council (SCC) is seeking collaboration in independently researching technical and costing aspects of this issue in order to critically assess National Grid's proposals using independently sources of information and expertise, predominantly from the academic world. We have now heard that Babergh District Council see this as a request for financial support from SCC. We hope that they will look again at this because it is in fact an opportunity to collaborate in organising an arrangement wherein the funding for the research actually comes from National Grid through what is called a Planning Performance Agreement (see link below for details). Stour Valley Underground has also been researching the possibility of OfGem creating a fund to support Local Government in researching and responding to these major infrastructure proposals. As yet we have not had any reply to our 26th June letter proposing this from either OfGem, Chris Huhne or DECC but we will let you know the results of this when we receive a reply.
Government provided information onPlanning Performance Agreements is available at:-
Copy of Parliamentary statement from DECC
Dear consultation respondent,
I am writing to you given your interest in the Energy National Policy Statements. Charles Hendry, Minister of State for Energy, announced in Parliament today that DECC plan to re-consult on the Energy National Policy Statements this Autumn, saying:
“Today I am announcing that the Government will be launching a re-consultation in the autumn on the draft energy National Policy Statements following the consultation undertaken by the previous administration earlier this year, and in particular due to changes which have been made to the Appraisal of Sustainability for the Overarching Energy National Policy Statement.”
I am aware that many consultation respondents live locally to sites that were nominated to be included on the Nuclear National Policy Statement as suitable for new nuclear power stations, and are very keen for further information on what is happening on sites. We are currently analysing the responses received on sites and in the Autumn we will publish the latest Nuclear National Policy Statement and the Government response to the consultation which closed in February 2010. This will include further information on the sites that the coalition Government view as potentially suitable for deployment of new nuclear power stations by 2025.
Department of Energy and Climate Change
3 Whitehall Place, London, SW1A 2HD