One way in which the view of the UK Government is expressed is through decisions on Consents and Wayleaves for new or existing overhead lines. We give some examples where EMFs have featured here.
Government policy on EMF issues for power lines is now set out in a 2009 Written Ministerial Statement and fleshed out in two 2011 Codes of Practice. The National Policy Statement EN-5 established these as the correct basis for deciding on consent for new power lines. Most of the decisions listed below predate these documents.
1990s: Second Yorkshire Line
In 1992 and 1995, Public Inquiries and Hearings were held into applications by the National Grid Company plc for consent to install 400 kV overhead power lines in the Vale of York. The question of possible health effects was considered at some length. The decision letter, dated 26 March 1998, which granted both consent for the line and the Necessary Wayleaves, included the comment:
"The Secretary of State notes that the scientific evidence has now been reviewed by many national and international bodies and the NRPB's view remains that it does not consider that the results of published epidemiological studies provide a basis for quantitative restrictions in respect of exposure of the public to EMFs from overhead lines or other electricity supply apparatus."
On 11 October 2001, the Department of Trade and Industry wrote to National Grid giving section 37 Consent to a new electricity line in Lincolnshire. The letter contains the following paragraph:
“3.11 The Secretary of State recognises that concerns have been expressed over the health effects of exposure to electro-magnetic fields from electricity powerlines. On this matter she relies on the advice of the Government’s scientific advisers, the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB). The NRPB keeps a close watch on developments such as the latest research, and its view remains that the results of published epidemiological studies do not provide a basis for quantitative restrictions in respect of exposure of the public to electro-magnetic fields from overhead lines or other electricity supply apparatus. She therefore concludes that health effects do not provide sufficient grounds for refusing consent to the Development. Neither can they supply adequate justification for a planning condition requiring that the line be a certain distance from residential properties…”
2007: SP Manweb line, Lancashire
More recently, in 2007 the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform granted a Necessary Wayleave to SP Manweb plc for a power line in Lancashire. EMFs were one of the issues, and the Inspector's Report concludes:
"I would therefore agree that the section of line that oversails Woodlands complies with the above-mentioned professional guidelines [ie ICNIRP] on this matter.The possible health effects that might arise from persons being exposed to the EMFs emitted from this section of line do not therefore provide sufficient grounds for refusing the Necessary Wayleave to keep this section of line in situ."
2010: Beauly Denny
In January 2010 the Scottish Government gave consent to the proposed new power lines from Beauly to Denny. EMFs had featured heavily in the Inquiry but no EMF conditions were imposed. See full details of the decision here.
Campaigns against power lines
Proposals to build new power lines sometimes arouse strong feelings and opposition. See the links section of this site for some of the groups opposed to new power lines.