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Harrogate Appeal Court Judgment

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12 November 2004

We welcome the Court of Appeal judgment that Government Planning Guidance in PPG8 is perfectly clear in relation to compliance with the health and safety standards for mobile phone base stations. The Court of Appeal and the High Court have both upheld Government policy in the face of a planning inspector’s decision that departed from that policy and failed to give adequate reasons for doing so.

This case has not changed Government guidance on mobile telecoms planning. The same controls are in place. Mobile phone operators have been given no new rights to build mobile phone base stations.

Operators build their networks to comply with the international ICNIRP health and safety guidelines and provide local planning authorities with a certificate of compliance for each mobile phone base station. Even the highest radio wave emissions from a base station will always be well below the ICNIRP guidelines.

An independent audit carried out by Ofcom over the past three years has confirmed that radio wave emissions measured at schools are small fractions of the international ICNIRP health and safety guidelines. In over 350 sites measured, the highest reading was 279 times below the guidelines.

As the Stewart Report clarification said in June 2000 "Exposure to members of the public from macrocell base stations is very much less than current guidelines. In giving special attention to schools, the Expert Group was responding very largely to public concern rather than any proven health hazard."

In accordance with PPG8, mobile phone operators will continue to consult schools on base station siting and give them advice on radio wave exposures as recommended in ODPM’s Code of Best Practice.

Operators will continue to seek to share sites where possible, in line with Government guidance. In this case three operators were seeking to share an existing site.

There are now over 50 million phone users in the UK. Without a network of radio base stations in places where people want to use their phones they simply won’t work.

61% of UK adults access the internet from mobiles

Mobile phones cannot work without a network of base stations (masts). There are approximately 52,500 base station sites (excluding microcells) in the UK. Only a third of these are large, free standing masts. A YouGov survey for MOA (Sept 2014) showed that nearly 8 out of 10 people recognise the link between masts and good mobile coverage. Mobile telecommunications are vital for the UK’s economic competitiveness and in promoting social inclusion. There are now 89.9 million mobile subscriptions in the UK. In Q1 2015 61 per cent of UK adults used their mobile phones for internet access. Tablet ownership is 54% of UK households.

No Established Health Effects

Mobile phones operate by using radio waves, similar to those that have been widely used for decades, for example in radio, TV and radar signals. A large number of studies over the last two decades have found no clear evidence of adverse health effects from the use of mobile phones or from phone masts.