Written Answers. - Communications Mast.

Noel Treacy

Question:

663 Mr. N. Treacy asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications the action, if any, which he proposes to take to safeguard a Community (details supplied) in County Galway, if he is aware of the gravity of this situation; if he will ensure that no dangerous structure is placed in this locality; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16713/96]

At the general level, the obligation to comply with best international practice in relation to emissions of electromagnetic radiation from communications masts is included in licences issued by me to the operators.

This best practice is laid down by the International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA) in their 1988 guidelines. These guidelines were recently endorsed in a review of all relevant research on the subject by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), an international and well respected group of experts in the area of non-ionising radiation. The review states that there is no substantive evidence that adverse health effects can occur in people exposed to levels of non-ionising radiation at or below those energy levels considered to be safely tolerated 24 hours a day. Compliance with these guidelines ensures that no member of the public is exposed to unacceptable levels of emissions and independent tests carried out at a number of locations show that the levels in this country are well within the guidelines.

The Office of the Director of Telecommunications Regulation which will be established following the enactment of the Telecommunications (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 1996 will be responsible for arranging further monitoring of emissions in order to ensure compliance with the guidelines.

I have no function at the planning stage in relation to particular masts, including the one mentioned by the Deputy. This is a matter for decision by the local planning authority and, on appeal, An Bord Pleanála.