Planning Permission, EMFs and power lines

Government policy in the UK is that when planning permission for new developments is considered, the relevant consideration is whether the relevant exposure guidelines are complied with or not.

This principle is set out in the Written Ministerial Statement of October 2009 the response to SAGE that is the most recent statement of Government policy.  But the practical details of how exactly EMF compliance would be considered in planning applications has yet to be worked out.  The Statement says:

"The Government does recognise that work is needed to ensure that new building developments and the siting of new power lines take proper account of the 1998 ICNIRP exposure levels and the EU Recommendation and will work proactively with the electricity industry and local authorities to explore the incorporation of the international standards formally into the planning system."

We are aware of just one case where a contrary view was taken in a planning issue.  An Inspector ruled that planning permission should not be given for a development in Merton, South London, because it would bring a substation close to bedrooms.  No actual field levels seem to have been provided, and there is no indication that the Inspector was aware of the existence of exposure limits.  We presume (but, of course, cannot be certain) that if it was heard again now, with the clarity provided by the Written Ministerial Statement, permission would not have been refused on the same grounds.