UPDATE: PCC claims pylons could be catastrophic' for emergency services communications

Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has added his weight to opposition to National Grid’s proposals to place 50m high pylons across the coastal strip of the county, claiming the plan could be ‘catastrophic’ for communities as it ‘could limit the response of all emergency services to incidents’.
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The allegations came in the closing days of the energy company’s early-stages consultation, which ended last Wednesday.

National Grid has told Lincolnshire World the company operates and maintains 7000km of existing high voltage overhead electricity line across England and Wales ‘without interference issues to existing emergency services operations’.

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However, PCC Marc Jones says he believes the proposals ‘present a serious risk to the ability of all emergency services in the county to protect the people of Lincolnshire by impacting on the mission critical communications network – Airwave’.

No Pylons Lincolnshire banners seen across the county.No Pylons Lincolnshire banners seen across the county.
No Pylons Lincolnshire banners seen across the county.

Mr Jones explained: “The operation of airwave emergency services radio networks in close proximity to 400kV overhead power lines can be impacted by electromagnetic interference (EMI) generated by these power lines.

"EMI occurs when electromagnetic radiation from the power lines interferes with the radio signals.”

He went on to say the impact could reduce ‘clarity and range of communications between emergency personnel’ resulting in ‘difficulty in transmitting and receiving critical information, which may hamper emergency response efforts’.

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"When more sustainable offshore undersea options are available, I see no justification for the proposal,” he said.

"We owe it to future generations to make evidence-based decisions based on the best sustainable unacceptable risks to the public.”

A spokesperson for National Grid commented: “When we propose any new equipment, we have an obligation under the Electromagnetic Compatibility Regulations to ensure we do not impact third party operations, which we commit to for every project. This will be achieved through our overhead line design, which limits radiofrequency emissions to British Standards and careful routeing for very localised effects. We will work with statutory stakeholders as we develop our proposals further.”

National Grid is proposing a £1billion plan to build a new 90-mile high voltage electricity transmission line ‘Grimsby to Walpole’ which they say is essential to increase the capability of Britain’s electricity transmission network in Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, and West Norfolk.

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Ahead of the consultation closing date of March 13, National Grid said more than 4,300 pieces of feedback had been received since it began in January.

This is more than than the response to a consultation on Devolution proposals for the whole of Greater Lincolnshire, which saw 4,101 responses.

Eleven public consultation events regarding this were held across Lincolnshire at which there were 2976 attendees.

There were fewer people engaging online, with just 175 attendees across the eight webinars.According to the National Grid, the breakdown of feedback so far is 3,200 emails, 140 hard copy forms, 400 letters and 600 online forms.

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Ben Muncey, Project Director for National Grid said: “The Grimsby to Walpole public consultations have generated a lot of interest, with nearly 3000 people attending in person events, and more than 4300 pieces of feedback received from local people so far.

"We are very grateful to the local community and stakeholders who have shared their views with us.

"We will carefully consider their feedback as we continue to shape our proposals, before holding a further consultation next year.”

Campaigners are not, however, prepared to sit and wait for the results of the feedback ot further consultations.

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On Friday more than 100 people attended a public meeting hosted by Alford Town Council in the Corn Exchange.

A presentation was given by No Pylons Lincolnshire and MP Victoria Atkins also addressed the room about their concerns.

Ms Atkins stressed how ‘special’ her constituency, which stretches from the coast to Louth and across the Wolds, is.

" Our constituency is one of the few in the country that does not have a single electricity pylon,”

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"In my mind that sums up how special ths corner of Lincolnshire is.

"People have moved her because of the views and it is not industrialised.

"This is who we are very concerned collectively anout these plans for pylons along our coastline.”

She said she had been working with councils and Members of Parliament along the route and to see what is happening in other parts of the country.

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"You have my assurance I am working to make sure the views of local people are taken into account,” she said.

Simon Adderley, one of the organisers of the public meeting, said: “It was a full house and great turnout- everyone was passionately against the the proposals.

“There are still lots of people who don't know about the proposal, so now we are pushing to inform more people, grow the FB page and then we can guide people on how to move forward.”

No Pylons Lincolnshire are also questioning the consultation stats and the reliability of National Grid’s website in the final hours of the consulation.

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Andrew Malkin said: “We had multiple reports of the survey crashing, text boxes being deleted, same text appearing in other boxes and failures to submit.

"Others missed an email asking them to confirm their submission after it had been submitted or it wouldn't count. Then NG closed the survey page 12 hours early at 11.59am instead of 11.59pm.

"We are challenging the survey as it calls into question how many were submitted versus how many are being counted.

"We had already questioned the legality of the consultation in our official response as other options such as undersea were not included.”

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Coun Colin Dave – executive councillor for environment and economy at Lincolnshire County Council – who have agreed to put in a formal objection to the scheme,pointed out what the National Grid feedback statistics released last week did not show was how much of the feedback was against the proposals.

He said: “Only this week we know hundreds of postcards against the pylons have been sent in.

"Already when you look at the statistics there has been far more response than to the Devolution consultation which affects the whole of Greater Lincolnshire and not just the coastal strip.

"We know there is much opposition to this plan across the whole of the affected area.”

National Grid is expected to release further data this week. Lincolnshire World has asked for a comment regarding this but was still waitng at the time of going to press.