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I thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention, but if he will allow me, I will come to the precautionary aspect, particularly in relation to health, in a moment.
An announcement on the outcome of the research that the Minister for Housing and Planning announced on
I turn now to supplementary planning guidance. On
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister commissioned a study from Reading university and Arup to assess what impact the code of best practice, which was published in 2002, has had since its introduction, and how the public perceive its operation. We have received the research report and are carefully considering its recommendations, and particularly how we might take them forward in the context of the wider review of the planning arrangements for telecommunications masts. We will publish the research report in due course as part of that wider review.
I turn now to the health concerns mentioned by many right hon. and hon. Members. Like them, the Government understand that public concern about the siting of mobile phone base stations is fuelled by health concerns. Let me assure hon. Members that the Government take seriously the need to protect the public from potential health risks.
We have had two major reviews of the evidence regarding health effects due to exposure to radiofrequency transmissions associated with mobile phone handsets and base stations. The first, by the independent expert group on mobile phones, was in 2000; the second, by the National Radiological Protection Board's advisory group on non-ionising radiation, was in 2004. Both reports concluded that the overall evidence indicates that mobile base stations are unlikely to pose a risk to health, because exposure levels are extremely low. However, both reports recognised that scientific uncertainty requires a precautionary approach to such technologies and further research. I assure hon. Members that any changes will continue to reflect the precautionary approach.
The Government established the mobile telephone health research programme, which is costing around £7.36 million and is jointly funded by Government and industry. We are currently considering continuing the programme, as recommended in the NRPB's report "Mobile Phones and Health", which was published in January.
I shall now refer to the comments that my hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley, North and Sefton, East made.