HC Deb 28 February 2001 vol 363 cc681-2W
Mr. Letwin

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what guidelines are set by him concerning the minimum distance of telecommunications masts from houses. [151498]

Ms Beverley Hughes

Telecommunications operators have a duty under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Management of the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to ensure that so far as is reasonably practicable, their work activities—which would include the installation and operation of their equipment—do not expose people to risks to their health and safety.

Following publication of the Stewart report on mobile phones and health in May 2000, the Government accepted that, as a precautionary measure, the emissions from mobile phone base stations should meet the more restrictive International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) guidelines for public exposure (as expressed in the EU Council Recommendation of 12 July 1999 on the limitation of exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields (0 Hz to 300GHz)). Most base stations already meet the ICNIRP guidelines and all new base stations will do so.

The Stewart report recommended the establishment of clearly defined physical exclusion zones around base station antennas, which delineate areas within which exposure guidelines may be exceeded, to prevent the public from exposure to radiofrequency radiation above the ICNIRP guidelines. These exclusion zones relate to an area directly in front of and at the height of the antenna. The report did not recommend the introduction of a minimum distance between mists and existing development and we have no plans to introduce such a requirement.

Mr. Waterson

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he intends to publish revised PPG Note 8 on telecommunications development and the Governments conclusions on proposed changes to part 24 of the General Permitted Development Order. [151293]

Ms Beverley Hughes

The consultation exercise seeking views on possible changes to the planning laws relating to mobile phone masts and associated guidance ended on 31 October 2000. The Department is currently analyzing the responses. We intend to announce our conclusions as soon as practically possible.