HC Deb 09 July 2001 vol 371 cc381-2W
Mr. George Howarth

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice she gives to local authorities in relation to planning applications for mobile telephone masts; what research her Department is sponsoring into the health risks involved; and what proposals she has to review such advice. [2118]

Ms Keeble

I have been asked to reply.

Government planning policy for telecommunications is set out in Planning Policy Guidance note 8 (revised): Telecommunications and the Department's Circular 4–99 "Planning for Telecommunications".

In June 2000, my right hon. Friend the then Minister for Housing, Plan ling and Construction wrote to Council Leaders in England to explain the action the Government had in hand to take forward the planning recommendations of the Stewart report ("Mobile Phones and Health") published in May 2000, and to give guidance on how local planning authorities should take into account health aspects when considering planning applications.

On 16 March 2001, Official Report, columns 748–51W, my right hon. Friend announced a series of important changes to the planning, system for telecommunications masts which will significantly strengthen the current arrangements. On that day, he wrote to the Leaders of all Councils in England and to all hon. Members for constituencies in England to advise them of the proposed changes. Copies of the letter were sent to chief planning officers.

We shall introduce the rules and publish the revised Planning Policy Guidance Note (PPG8) on Telecommunications Development to implement the changes at the earliest opportunity.

In December 2000, the Department of Health announced a new research programme, costing around £7 million and funded jointly by Government and industry, which will be directed and overseen by a task force led by Sir William Stewart. It will carry out research into the effects of mobile phone technology on health and the process will ensure that Government and the public are kept up to date with new research findings.

The Government are keeping the whole area of mobile phone technologies under review in the light of further research.