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– Scottish Parliament written question – answered at on 2 February 2006.

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Photo of Margaret Ewing Margaret Ewing Scottish National Party

Question S2W-22535

To ask the Scottish Executive whether 3G mobile phone masts differ from 2G mobile phone masts and, if so, what new guidance it has issued regarding this difference in respect of planning and health.

Photo of Johann Lamont Johann Lamont Labour

3G networks use a different technology from 2G networks. This technology is Universal Mobile Telecommunications Systems (UMTS), which enables data to be transferred at much higher rates than 2G mobile phone systems and allows, for example, access to the internet on the move. The area covered by 3G base stations is not as great as 2G, which is why there is a need for additional masts to fill in the gaps where existing 2G base stations have been converted to 3G.

The Health Protection Agency has not advised that there is a need for any additional safety measures in relation to 3G exposures compared to those for 2G. The current advice from the Health Protection Agency on limiting exposure to radiofrequency radiation applies both to 2G and 3G emissions. As a result, the Scottish Executive’s planning guidance, National Planning Policy Guideline (NPPG) 19: Radio Telecommunications, which includes the issue of health concerns and precautionary measures, applies to both 2G and 3G network infrastructure. A copy of NPPG 19 is available in the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (Bib. number 15218).

As part of these precautionary measures, Ofcom has been carrying out audits of the level of public exposure to emissions from masts. The measured exposure levels are at most hundreds, and usually thousands, of times below the relevant exposure guidelines of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) on limiting exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields. Ofcom’s audit methodology has recently been updated to include 3G in all its measurement audits and measurement of emissions from 3G masts continue to be substantially less than the public exposure guidelines published by ICNIRP.

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