HC Deb 20 April 2004 vol 420 cc429-30W
Annabelle Ewing

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions he and his officials had with (a) Airwave and (b) 02 prior to the setting of the UK's safety limit on Tetra radiation. [161611]

Yvette Cooper

None. The Government set up the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones (chaired by Sir William Stewart) to consider the health effects of mobile phones, base stations and transmitters. They conducted a rigorous and comprehensive assessment of existing research and gathered a wide range of views and published their report in May 2000. In respect of base stations, the report concludes that"the balance of evidence indicates that there is no general risk to the health of people living near to base stations on the basis that exposures are expected to be small fractions of the guidelines". However, gaps in scientific knowledge led Stewart to recommend a precautionary approach comprising a series of specific measures. The Government accepted the recommended precautionary approach and is taking forward a range of precautionary actions. These include ensuring all base stations meet the international guidelines on public exposure set by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

Following a request to the NRPB by the Home Office, the issue of possible health effects caused by signals from TETRA base stations was comprehensively addressed in a report by NRPB's independent Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation (AGNIR), chaired by Sir Richard Doll. The report on Possible Health Effects from Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) was published in 2002 in the Documents of NRPB (Volume 12 No 2, 2001) and is also available on the NRPB web site: www.nrpb.org. The report noted that the signals from TETRA base stations, like their mobile phone counterparts, are not pulsed. NRPB advise that there is no reason to believe that signals from TETRA base stations should be treated differently from other base stations.