Stakeholder Advisory Group on EMFs

27 April 2007

Stakeholder Advisory Group on EMFs

Commenting on the publication of the Interim Assessment from the Stakeholder Advisory Group on Electric & Magnetic Fields (SAGE), Energy Networks Association (ENA) welcomed the assessment as part of the ongoing stakeholder dialogue on the possible health effects from electric and magnetic fields produced by electricity.

The Assessment is a comprehensive analysis that aims to provide clarity for society as a whole on the debate about power lines and health. Our industry has been a long-time advocate of a responsible approach to EMFs, including supporting high quality research, and sees the SAGE process and this Assessment as part of that ongoing work.

This Interim Assessment looks at EMFs from two sources, high voltage overhead power lines and sources inside the home (household wiring and domestic equipment and appliances). SAGE has identified that many people receive most of their exposures not from power lines at all but from wiring in the home. SAGE has identified a package of simple and cheap measures to reduce exposures from house wiring.

SAGE concluded that burying power lines is not the best response to the concerns about health effects.

SAGE considered the idea that there should be ‘corridors’ around power lines where new homes should not be built, but concluded this would have little benefit, whilst at the same time sterilise land, hamper the Government’s urban regeneration and house-building objectives, run counter to the needs of the Energy Review and forthcoming White Paper. It would also cause serious financial harm to landowners and to existing home owners near power lines.

SAGE will now continue its work by considering other sources such as low voltage electricity distribution and railways

Peter Coyle, Head of Health, Safety & Environment at Energy Networks Association said: ‘SAGE has, brought together a wide range of stakeholders to work out what is in the best interest of society as a whole.

"We went into this process with an open mind about options. The balance of scientific evidence suggests that EMFs are not a health risk, but as a responsible industry we have always taken account of current medical and scientific thinking. SAGE is clear in its view that, on the mainstream view of the science, it is not the right response to bury all power lines or ban building developments near them, and we welcome this continuing mature approach.

"However we acknowledge that this is not the end of the process, and we are committed to continuing to work with all stakeholders to address the EMF question."

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

Energy Networks Association is the industry body funded by the UK gas and electricity transmission and distribution companies.

SAGE was established to provide advice to Government to help inform policy relating to EMFs. SAGE is co-funded by the electricity industry, the Department of Health, the charity Children with Leukaemia and is independently facilitated its governance is such that no single stakeholder or funder can determine the outcome. A copy of the SAGE report can be downloaded at www.energynetworks.org/SAGE

SAGE identifies the assessment of electric and magnetic fields research reached by the World Health Organisation, the Health Protection Agency, the European Union, and others that there is a possibility that there is a link with childhood leukaemia, but not other diseases. The electricity industry agrees with this assessment reached by independent authoritative bodies. SAGE identifies that introducing 'corridors' along power lines, where new building would be prevented, would carry significant costs –the damage done to land and property values of homeowners – twenty plus times greater than the putative benefit on this view of the science.

The electricity industry has pioneered provision of factual information to the public. See the web site www.emfs.info and the booklet EMFs: The Facts at www.energynetworks.org/EMFs

The electricity industry funds world-class independent research into possible health effects of EMFs and has done for many years.

Following the release of the Interim Assessment we will continue to follow any changes in Government advice based on the content of the document.