§ Ms Blears
I have been asked to reply.
The report by Dr. Neil Cherry on "Together Against Masts" is concerned with an assessment of possible health effects that might arise from exposure to radio frequency (RF) radiation from mobile phone base stations (masts). It was to address such concerns that in 1999 the Government asked the chairman of the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) to set up an Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones (IEGMP). The group was chaired by Sir William Stewart FRS, FRSE and reported to Government in May 2000.
A particular issue for the group was the exposures that might be received by members of the public from local base stations and the potential for effects on health. This is the issue addressed by Dr. Cherry. The conclusions in the IEGMP report were 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 guidelinesMeasurements undertaken by the NRPB and the Radiocommunications Agency have confirmed that public exposures are very much lower than the international guidelines. Network operators have 212W undertaken to ensure that all base stations will be designed and sited, so that members of the public will not be exposed in excess of the recommended basic restriction.
The group were aware, however, that if people are unduly concerned about potential exposures then that in itself may affect their well-being. A number of recommendations of the group were, therefore, designed to provide more information to people about local base stations.
The group also made recommendations for further research work. These proposals for research were principally directed as providing more information on exposures from mobile phones but also have relevance to exposures from base stations. It additionally recommended that there should be a further review of relevant research in three years time, or earlier if circumstances demand it.
The Government welcome the report as an authoritative review of the scientific information available. It also accepted the recommendations and these have been taken forward by Government and by other bodies. A research programme funded by Government and industry on a 50:50 basis is taking forward the research recommendations.
In coming to its conclusions, the IEGMP undertook an extensive review of the relevant scientific literature and heard evidence from 28 witnesses during the course of its work. It also organised five open meetings to hear the views of the public. Many of the references cited by Dr. Cherry were reviewed by the expert group. Professor G. J. Hyland, then of the University of Warwick, whose work is referred to by Dr. Cherry gave evidence to the group. The IEGMP also drew upon evidence provided by the NRPB and other organisations on exposures to RF from base stations.
The further review of research findings is being carried out by NRPB's independent advisory group on non-ionising radiation. It is expected that this will be completed in 2003.