Skip to main content

Mobile Communications

Volume 409: debated on Friday 18 July 2003

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of that part of the Stewart Report, referring to TETRA masts, which expressed concern of possible health effects from signal modulations at frequencies close to 16Hz. [126705]

The Stewart Report did not refer to Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) masts. It focused on mobile phones and only listed TETRA as one of the existing standards for mobile communications.There are no health concerns specific to TETRA masts. Operators must ensure that emissions from radio masts are below international health and safety guidelines in areas accessible to the public. Independent checks have confirmed that this is indeed the case for TETRA masts used for the new police radio communications system.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the National Radiological Protection Board Report of July 2001 and on the actions he is taking on its health recommendation. [126706]

Following the concerns raised in the Stewart report on "Mobile phones and health" about amplitude-modulated signals, we took expert advice from the National Radiological Protection Board's Independent Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation (AGNIR). Their report on "Possible health effects from Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA)" concludes that

"current evidence suggests that it is unlikely that the special features from TETRA mobile terminals and repeaters pose a hazard to health".
The AGNIR report also confirms that

"it is notable that the signals from TETRA base stations are not pulsed".

The AGNIR experts made recommendations for long-term research to address remaining areas of uncertainty. We have taken this forward with an extensive research programme. Results to date show that TETRA technology has no effect on calcium exchanges in cells—the main concern of the Stewart report. They also confirm that all Airwave equipment fully complies with international health and safety guidelines. We have recently announced a £5 million health monitoring study of police Airwave users. Regularly updated information on the Home Office research programme is available at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/docs/tetra.html.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how mobile communications will be funded after the Government's initial commitment to the TETRA programme. [126707]

Airwave, the new radio communications system for the police service, is based on Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) technology. The Airwave framework arrangement under the Private Finance Initiative is in place until 2019. The Government initially committed £550 million of central funding to the Airwave programme, which is also funded locally by police authorities. Options for funding Airwave in the longer term are under review.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the findings of the audit of TETRA base stations carried out by the Radiocommunications Agency. [126708]

Airwave, the new radio communications system for the police service, is based on Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) technology. On the recommendation of independent experts, we asked the Radio-communications Agency to carry out audits of Airwave base stations, as they already do for mobile phones masts. 12 audits have now been completed. The results confirm that emission levels from Airwave base stations are hundreds of times less than international health and safety guidelines in areas accessible to the public. Results will shortly be available on the Radio-communications Agency website.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received from chief constables and police authorities on the affordability of TETRA Communication. [126900]

We have not received any representations from Chief Constables and Police Authorities on the affordability of Airwave, the new radio communications system for the police service. £550 million have been made available from central funding for Airwave.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers have reported ill effects from using the TETRA Communication system. [126901]

Fewer than 10 police officers have formally reported ill effects they attribute to the use of Airwave, the new radio communications system for the Police Service. No police officers have taken sick leave attributed to the use of Airwave.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research has been undertaken on the biological effects on animals close to TETRA masts. [126911]

We are unaware of any research on the possible biological effects of Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) masts on animals close to the masts. Neither the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones (who produced the Stewart Report on "Mobile Phones and Health") nor the National Radiological Protection Boards' Independent Advisory Group on non-Ionising Radiation (who produced a follow-up report on "Possible Health Effects from TETRA") have suggested that such research should be undertaken.