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The Analysis of the Bristol-Hum

The Bristol-Hum in 2016

Just recently, 19 th of January 2016, The strange case of the Bristol hum - BBC News – BBC.com reported:

The Bristol Hum is back, according to reports. But did it go away? In 1980, the council's environmental health team investigated.

After 36 years some say they can still hear it.

Some people in Bristol say they are plagued by a mysterious low-level hum that no-one can trace. In the 1970s hundreds of the city's residents complained to the council that a strange noise was audible at night. Eventually, it stopped as abruptly as it began, but not before it had spawned reports of equally unidentified hums in other towns across Britain.

In 2013 the residents of Hythe in Hampshire made more than 30 complaints to the local council about a mysterious sound keeping them awake.

Elsewhere, Leeds had its hum keeping residents awake, and Largs in Scotland had one. In Manchester, a disconcerting wailing last year was put down to wind around the city's Beetham Tower. A village in Durham reported a strange vibrating noise in 2011 - known as "the hum".

To me the hum seems to be a rather random noise, which cannot be allocated to special sources. However in some cases such (as in the Zutphen-Hum 1 ) the vicinity to power lines plays a certain role.

The Aust Severn Powerline Crossing had been built before 1963 and may have served as a huge antenna for hum signals, which had been heard in the seventies. Of course the ground pattern of the power grid lines serve as another antenna.

The Severn-Wye Cable Tunnel had been built 1972 and temporarily took over some or most of the power to be transmitted 2 . There is no reason given for additionally building this expensive and complicated structure (with an oil-cooling device) in parallel to a relatively new rather simple Aust Severn Powerline Crossing.

“Eventually, it stopped as abruptly as it began”.

Well, this may exactly match the power transport switch to the new operational Severn-Wye Cable Tunnel.

In the course of time the British power consumption rose from 250 TWh (1972) to 370 TWh (2008) 3 . Probably some of the extra power had to be shifted from the Severn-Wye Cable Tunnel back to the Aust Severn Powerline Crossing, which may have caused the “humming gap” between 1972 and 2016. In fact the power consumption only rose rather moderately in recent years.

The Heathrow Hassle (2006)

The last time I visited Bristol in 2006 I remember the stroll along the picturesque harbor and the gorgeous environment of the hills, the high bridge over the muddy Avon river. It is a gorgeous city and I liked the environment of the city's center. Lots of students made up background of young faces. I remember the fascinating SS Great Britain, but we didn't have the time to visit the museums. We were on a visitors' trip from London to Cornwall and back

This journey however a few days later 4 turned into a disaster at the return to London where we were stuck up in a Heathrow Hassle – probably the worst hassle they ever had 5 . British Airways had lost of service personal hanging around, but they closed the shop and left the stranded passengers to their fate. Instead they preferred to smoke cigarettes in their lounge and small-talk conversations. I am still awaiting a response from British Airways for the extra-costs for the Lufthansa tickets we had to buy for a return flight to Germany. Months later an impertinent lawyer refused to answer us why British Airways didn't care for their passengers, never responded any phone calls and didn't care to respond emails. That's when I promised myself, my wife and my friends we would never ever return to the island nor set a foot near any British airplane.

And now in my mind I return to that harbor, where I remember the Avon, the hills and the narrow access to the ocean water.

Those days, at my visit 2006, I hadn't been aware the hum-project would bring me back to Bristol ten years later.

4 at 12. August 2006

Maps of the Overhead Power Lines

There are no documented records of the hum-alerts of those days, but I was lucky to find an Open Street Maps with a Map of all coordinates using OSM for the power lines of the area.

Bristol is a large city. The power lines are fed by a nearby nuclear plant, but of course nuclear applications doesn't really matter for the hum problem.

The East-Side of Bristol (shaded orange)

The interesting fact is the vicinity of the overhead power lines to the bedrooms of the houses. The name of the plant is Oldbury Nuclear Plant Station 6 , from which two lines are emerging, leading to Iron Acton Substation nearby Rangeworthy. I just drew a line connecting these stations to mark a beginning of the network. This is found north of Bristol.

From here two lines are running to SWEB Trading Estate in Lockleaze, a urban area at Romney Avenue in the northern part of Bristol, nearby Stoke Primary School. These lines are passing in between the suburbans Winterbourne and Stoke Gifford.

Anther power line follows the city's outline next to High Street (in the suburbans North Common and Oldland Common) and from the Bath Road crossing the valley river Avon up to the Feeder Road Substation.

These power line passes some suburban areas, coming very close to the city's center. I drew my 2km 7 standard sensitivity zone around these power lines and found almost the complete east-sided half of the city of Bristol being covered by electric smog from the power lines.

These lines have been shaded in orange in illustration 1.

The West-side of Bristol (shaded gray and yellow)

The lines to Portishead and Rangeworthy (shaded gray)

I still hadn't checked what happened to the areas at the west-side of the city, which may also be covered by power lines. Another important power source is the Seabank Power Station, from which two power lines lead to Portishead.

Another overhead power line along the Cribs Causeway leads to the Iron Acton Substation nearby Rangeworthy. These lines have been shaded gray in in illustration 1.

The Aust Severn Powerline Crossing as an antenna (shaded yellow)

Yet another line (shaded yellow in illustration 1) leads between Alveston and Thornbury to cross the Severn river at the Aust Severn Powerline Crossing, featuring the very high Severn Bridge with a span width of 1,618 m and an altitude of 148.75 m. At this altitude the power lines may act as a very large antenna!

The longest powerline river crossing in the UK is the Aust Severn Powerline Crossing over the River Severn at Aust, stretching 1700 m (5,310 ft) between towers 148 m (488 ft) high. This pylon crossing is paralleled by the Severn-Wye Cable Tunnel beneath it, at almost the same location. 8

6 Nuclear Power Station, Oldbury Naite, Oldbury-on-Severn, Bristol, South Gloucestershire BS35 1RQ, Vereinigtes Königreich

7 The 2km standard sensitivity zone may be found in the case of the hum-alerts documented by the population of the the Dutch city of Zutphen in Solving 'the Taos Hum' (?)

In the map I also entered the coordinates of the huge (149m tall) pylons:

Beachley pylon 51.6102°N 2.6531°W

The photograph of the Pylon of the Aust Severn Powerline Crossing 9 is from 12 August 1963, which implies the pylon must have been built earlier.

1963, which implies the pylon must have been built earlier. 1: ST5689 : First Severn Road

1: ST5689 : First Severn Road Bridge under construction Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The Severn-Wye Cable Tunnel 10

The Severn-Wye Cable Tunnel should be completed in 1971, and the 400kV cables installed in 1972. At that time the 275 kV overhead crossing already has existed for some years, and will continue to exist.

The tunnel will carry two 400kV cable circuits; each circuit will be designed for a maximum rating of 2600 MVA. Initially, the circuits will operate at half the rating, but they should be operating at the full rating by 1972.

If the Severn-Wye Cable Tunnel really absorbs most of the humming noise after beginning its operational phase this is a most suggestive hint to bury power cables under the ground in urban territories. The operational statistics allow the power suppliers to tell us the periods of time in which the Severn-Wye underground cable has been active in a solitary mode – that is: without using the additional capacity of the Aust Severn Powerline Crossing.

The map of Power Lines near Bristol

If we accept the Zutphen-model for hum-generation within a 2km wide sensitivity area around an overhead power line only a few region of Bristol remain unreachable for the humming power lines.

The solution for this problem would require to transform these lines to shielded underground lines.

The crossing of the Severn by a huge 150m tall bridge poses another problem. Is this huge construction a large antenna for hum-signals?

These power lines belong to the National Grid, but they certainly for a large grid antenna. Only a few sections of the grid form underground power lines. The Map of GB power stations and national grid also confirms the density of the high power lines at the east-side of Bristol center.

The pylons have been built before 1963 and the underground cable started operations from 1972 onwards.

the underground cable started operations from 1972 onwards. 2: Bristol's overhead p ower line network with

2: Bristol's overhead power line network with 2km wide sensitivity areas at both sides

Clifton, Redland, Westbury- on-Try, Cotham, Avonmouth

The Bristol Hum was first reported by around 80 people living in different parts of the city. The sound was reported to be heard in Cotham, Redland, Clifton, Westbury-on- Trym and Avonmouth. 11

Back in the 1970s complaints came from Clifton, Redland, Westbury- on-Trym, and most people affected lived on the top of hills rather than in valleys 12 .

Over the past two weeks, people from across the city have reported hearing the hum – particularly in the Clifton and Westbury-on-Trym areas. Owen Smith, who lives in Clifton, was kept awake by the sound last night. He said: "Can anyone else hear the low pitched 'humming' noise in Bristol tonight? I'm up in Clifton and it's becoming unbearable!!" 13 .

And it seems the sound - which has been described as 'unbearable' has returned in 2016 as for the past two weeks people have taken to Twitter to declare the infuriating noise has returned.

I marked these locations Clifton, Redland, Westbury- on-Trym Cotham, and Avonmouth as dark green labels, most of which are ca. 3-4 kilometers away from the high power grid lines. Avonmouth of course is very near to an overhead power line. The other locations are in the middle between two sectors: the gray and orange shaded areas.

In 2013 the troubles of the inhabitants of the plagued sectors seems to be quit annoying:

Mr Davis said: "About one in 50 people can hear it and it is a completely annoying noise that won't go away. In the 70s there were suicides and numerous people driven to distraction over this. 14

A spokesman said: "We have had only three complaints about a humming noise this year and all have been in December. Two came from Westbury-on-Trym and one suggests it may be connected to the wind farms." 15

He said: "It is like a low hum that comes and goes, and it can be really annoying. It is keeping me awake at night and the worst thing about the whole thing is that it has really disturbed my sleep patterns. 16

14 By The Bristol Post | Posted: December 20, 2013

15 By The Bristol Post | Posted: December 20, 2013

16 By The Bristol Post | Posted: December 20, 2013

3 Bristol's overhead p ower line network with 2km wide sensitivit y areas at both

3 Bristol's overhead power line network with 2km wide sensitivity areas at both sides

Table of Contents

The Bristol-Hum in 2016

1

The Heathrow Hassle (2006)

2

Maps of the Overhead Power Lines

3

The East-Side of Bristol (shaded orange)

3

The West-side of Bristol (shaded gray and yellow)

3

The lines to Portishead and Rangeworthy (shaded gray)

3

The Aust Severn Powerline Crossing as an antenna (shaded yellow)

3

The

Severn-Wye

Cable Tunnel

4

The map of Power Lines near Bristol

5

Clifton, Redland, Westbury- on-Try, Cotham, Avonmouth

6