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Planning compliance with National Grid defined safety protocols

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Dear Carmarthenshire Council,

On 24 March 2015 National Grid concluded a formal investigation into the serious safety concerns raised in regard to the proposed 27.1m tall wind turbine which was shown on the plans to be about 18m from overhead conductors bearing 11,000V (E/28634 PantYBryn Wind Turbine).

You may recall (from other FOI) that Carmarthenshire County Council's planning department claimed that they had not received a response when they tried to contact National Grid (first mis-described as National Power). More recently the department let slip that they had in fact received an email redirecting their enquiry, a copy of which was finally disclosed under compulsion of the Freedom of Information Act.

Members of National Grid's Asset Protection Team were appalled at the ignorance shown by Carmarthenshire County Council's planning department, the risk to public/community safety, and very concerned with the threat posed to their colleagues in the field who may have to had deal with the aftermath of an avoidable accident.

Carmarthenshire County Council's planning department has described National Grid as a "statutory undertaker". As such, working in a potentially dangerous and highly regulated field, the planners should not be surprised to find National Grid working to strict specifications and defined protocols. In addition to providing a copy of the Energy Networks Association's "Separation between Wind Turbines and Overhead Lines/ENA Engineering Recommendation LXX" (which came into effect from 1st April 2012), they outlined the following formal protocol:-

a) Once every year, National Grid writes to each Local Planning Authority to confirm that the registered contact details are correct.
b) Once every year, National Grid provides each LPA the locations of its assets in the form of "Shape Files" suitable to be imported into each LPA's GIS system.
c) Once every five years, National Grid physically visits each LPA in the country to ensure that the registered details are correct, remind the LPA of its duties in respect of National Grid operated infrastructure, offer advice, answer questions etc.
d) National Grid expects that every planning application is examined by the LPA with the most recent version of its GIS Shape Files.
e) National Grid expects that every planning application submitted is validated by a competent person visiting a proposed site, noting that the maps, plans and site conditions match. This includes looking out for obvious signs of overground infrastructure in the vicinity, such as 10.5m wooden poles/pylons bearing conductors in a 1.2km line etc.

With reference to the above protocol described by National Grid's Asset Protection Team, please can you provide all information that the Council holds for the period between 1 January 1998 and 13 March 2015 in respect of:

1) Dates and copies of correspondence exchanged between Carmarthenshire County Council and National Grid.
2) The dates that GIS Shape Files were received from National Grid, the file size and SHA256 message digest for each, and the date applied to the LPA's GIS platforms used in Crescent Road (it may be easiest if you just output the logs from revision control system for these elements into a human readable form for the latter limb).
3) Dates, venues and names of attendees for meetings held between the LPA and National Grid.
4) The method of working prescribed by the LPA to safely compare applications received with electronic/desktop records.
5) The name, job title and professional accreditation of each employee that Carmarthenshire County Council considered to a be defined as a competent person for the purpose of this role.

Additionally, please can you confirm if Carmarthenshire County Council now holds a copy of the ENA's "Separation between Wind Turbines and Overhead Lines/ENA Engineering Recommendation LXX" document. National Grid is a transmission licensee as defined by the 1989 Electricity Act, this document is the national guideline. If so, on which date did the Planners read sections 4 & 4.1 (Separation Between Wind Turbines and Overhead Power Lines & Toppling Distance) and Annex B (Diagrammatic representation of falling clearances)?

Yours faithfully,

D Morris CEng MIET

FOIA, Carmarthenshire Council

Dear Mr Morris,

Thank you for your request for information, which was received on 28th April, 2017 and is being dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

We are therefore required to provide a response within 20 working days, which will be on or before 30th May, 2017.

If we require clarification we will also contact you as soon as we can – please note that the timescale for response specified above may be subject to change if this is the case.

In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any queries, remembering to quote the reference number above in any communications.

Yours sincerely

John Tillman
Swyddog Gwybodaeth a Diogelu Data
Tîm Llywodraethu Gwybodaeth a Chwynion
Adran y Prif Weithredwr
Cyngor Sir Gaerfyrddin

Information & Data Protection Officer
Information Governance & Complaints Team
Chief Executive's Department
Carmarthenshire County Council

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Dear Mr. Tillman,

I am disappointed that Carmarthenshire County Council has chosen not to comply with its legal obligations defined in the Freedom of Information Act 2000/Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

I had expected that you would have supplied the information that I requested some time ago - the law requires that you provide the information promptly and in any event no later than 20 days after the request.

A complaint file has been opened with the Information Commissioner's Office.

When do you expect that you will comply with the Act/Regulations and supply the information requested?

Yours sincerely,

D Morris CEng MIET

FOIA, Carmarthenshire Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Morris,

I refer to your request for information, which was received on 28th April, 2017 and has been dealt with under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR). Please accept my apologies for the delay in providing this response.

The specific information you requested was as follows:

"With reference to the above protocol described by National Grid's Asset Protection Team, please can you provide all information that the Council holds for the period between 1 January 1998 and 13 March 2015 in respect of:

1) Dates and copies of correspondence exchanged between Carmarthenshire County Council and National Grid."

Please see attached the email sent by National Grid in February 2017.

We do not hold copies or dates of any other annual emails from/between the National Grid and the Council as these would have been deleted once dealt with.

Please also note that the shape files from National Grid only provide details of the major transmission routes and tower points e.g. "Pembroke-Swansea, Pembroke-Walham" and do not provide data on local overhead lines, pylons etc.

"2) The dates that GIS Shape Files were received from National Grid, the file size and SHA256 message digest for each, and the date applied to the LPA's GIS platforms used in Crescent Road (it may be easiest if you just output the logs from revision control system for these elements into a human readable form for the latter limb)."

The GIS Shape Files are available on National Grid's website for downloading - the link is provided below, and the files sizes can be viewed on their website:

http://www2.nationalgrid.com/uk/services...

Please note that the most recent updates (May 2017) did not affect Carmarthenshire.

The provisions of Regulation 6 (1) of the EIR are engaged with regard to this part of your request. This regulation states that:

“6. – (1) Where an applicant requests that the information be made available in a particular form or format, a public authority shall make it available unless –

(a) it is reasonable for it to make the information available in another form or format; or
(b) the information is already publicly available and easily accessible to the applicant in another form or format.”

"3) Dates, venues and names of attendees for meetings held between the LPA and National Grid."

I am advised that we hold no records of such meetings.

"4) The method of working prescribed by the LPA to safely compare applications received with electronic/desktop records.

5) The name, job title and professional accreditation of each employee that Carmarthenshire County Council considered to a be defined as a competent person for the purpose of this role."

I regret that it is not sufficiently clear what information you require in respect of questions 4 and 5. I would therefore be grateful if you could attempt to clarify these.

With regard to question 2, above, as I am effectively refusing to provide the information you have requested on the basis set out above, please find below your rights of appeal.

If you are unhappy with this decision or way in which your request has been handled, you can request a review by writing to:

The Head of Administration & Law
Carmarthenshire County Council
County Hall
Carmarthen
SA31 1JP

Email: [email address]

If you remain unhappy with the handling of your request or complaint, you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at:

The Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Telephone: 0303 123 1113
Website: www.ico.gov.uk

There is no charge for making an appeal.

Yours sincerely

John Tillman
Swyddog Gwybodaeth a Diogelu Data
Tîm Llywodraethu Gwybodaeth a Chwynion
Adran y Prif Weithredwr
Cyngor Sir Gaerfyrddin

Information & Data Protection Officer
Information Governance & Complaints Team
Chief Executive's Department
Carmarthenshire County Council

Mewnol/Internal: 4127
Allanol/External: 01267 224127

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