Planning Portal

PPS 10: Telecommunications
Policy Tel 1: Planning and Health Considerations

6.28 Health considerations and public concern can in principle be material considerations in determining applications for development proposals. Whether such matters are material in a particular case is ultimately a matter for the courts. It is for the decision-maker (normally the Department) to determine what weight to attach to such considerations in any particular case.
6.29 However it is the Department’s firm view that the planning system is not the place for determining health safeguards. It is for the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) Opens link in a new browser window to decide what measures are necessary to protect public health.
6.30 As regards health concerns raised about emissions associated with mobile telecommunications, DHSSPS while conscious of the need for further research and contributing financially towards the same, considers that the guidelines of the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) for public exposure to electromagnetic fields 9, as accepted by the World Health Organisation10, are based on the best evidence available to date. Accordingly where concern is raised about the health effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields, it is the view of DHSSPS that if the proposed mobile telecommunications development meets the ICNIRP guidelines in all respects it should not be necessary for the Department to consider this aspect further.
6.31 All new mobile phone base stations in the UK are expected to meet the ICNIRP public exposure guidelines. However all applications for mobile telecommunications base stations will be required to be accompanied by a declaration that the apparatus when operational will meet the guidelines. Similarly where it is intended to place additional antennas onto an existing mast or site, the operator will need to confirm in a declaration to accompany the application that the cumulative exposure will not exceed the ICNIRP guidelines.
6.32 In line with the Stewart Group’s recommendations applicants should also provide the Department with a statement for each site indicating its location, the height of antenna, the frequency and modulation characteristics, and details of power output.
6.33 Mobile phone operators already keep their RF power outputs to the lowest possible levels commensurate with effective service provision. They need to do this to ensure risk of interference within the network and with other radio networks is minimised. Whilst levels of power output are likely to go up and down during the day (depending on factors such as the number of people using their phones at any one time and the distance they are from the base station), the operators have confirmed that the base stations will, at all times, remain within the ICNIRP guidelines for public exposure. Statutory powers to control outputs and ultimately to switch off radio transmitters are exercised on behalf of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry by the Radiocommunications Agency (RA). The audit of mobile phone base station emissions carried out by the RA has so far indicated that all measurements are hundreds of times below the ICNIRP guidelines (see paragraph 2.18 above).
6.34 As noted in Section 2.0 above, the Stewart Group’s Report suggested a number of specific precautionary actions in relation to mobile phone technology, which have been accepted by the Government. The Report does not however provide any basis for precautionary actions beyond those already proposed e.g. the imposition of a ban or moratorium on new telecommunications development or insisting on minimum distances between new telecommunications development and existing development.
9 The public exposure guidelines of the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), as expressed in EU Council recommendation of 12 July 1999 (Reference: 1999/519/EC) on the limitation of exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields (0 Hz to 300 GHz).
10 WHO Fact Sheet No. 193 - Electromagnetic Fields and public Health: Mobile Phones and Their Base Stations ( Opens link in a new browser window)
Previous Next
Get Adobe Reader software (link opens in a new browser window)