What is the point of dialogue?
I have spent the last few years mostly working quietly behind the scenes, trying to move official UK policies towards a more precautionary approach to human EMF exposure issues.
One of the groups I took part in was the MOA (Mobile Operators Association) Stakeholder Group - that eventually came out with the "Ten Commitments", none of which minimised the network transmission power and some of which most of the Operators regularly still do not always comply with.
Another group is the UK Health Protection Agency (HPA) EMF Discussion Group. Despite repeatedly discussing what is needed in WiFi and health research, last autumn they managed to extract about GBP 300000 of taxpayers' money from the Department of Health to carry out research into just measuring the signals and making no attempt to record reported health effects. We expect to post a detailed item on this scandalous delaying tactic shortly.
Now we have another example of the HPA's unco-operative "up yours" attitude. It concerns a planning application to a local council in Oxfordshire (see Powerwatch News of 30 Jan 2008). All they needed to have written was the final paragraph on page 5 of their letter that agrees with the WSP recommendations and confirmed that the suggested guideline distance of 74 metres from the powerline to the edge of the development (to quote:) "is in fact very conservative in terms of tcurrent UK EMF exposure guidelines".
Instead, they spend 5 pages criticising the survey, the EMF meter used (which I happened to design many years ago), the scientific evidence that SAGE considered, disparage highly vocal activists (like Powerwatch), scientists like Professor Denis Henshaw (who is named and most unreasonably criticised). They spout their age-old (and out of date, in my opinion) "scientific orthodoxy". I have to ask "why?".
The only answer I can come up with is that they want to over-ride the SAGE output and continue to be the lone voice that matters on EMF and health advice in the UK. In which case, what was the point of the time (lots of it given free by most of the pro-precaution people) and the cost (quite large for London venue hire etc) of the Department of Health SAGE process?
I am currently (January 2008) on the small "process management" group trying to take the SAGE process forward. I have to seriously ask myself "why bother?".
Posted at: 30/01/2008 13:09:14 ::