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Telecommunications Infrastructure

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 19 October 2021

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Questions (458)

Paul Murphy

Question:

458. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage further to Parliamentary Question No. 276 of 5 October 2021, the reason the health and safety regulations for installing telecommunications towers were removed from the telecommunications structures planning regulations. [50679/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

No health and safety regulations for installing telecom towers have been removed from the Planning and Development Regulations 2001-2021.

The 1996 Telecommunications Antennae and Support Structures Guidelines for Planning Authorities advised that planning authorities should not include monitoring arrangements as part of planning permission conditions nor determine planning applications on health grounds. Circular letter PL 07/12 reiterated that advice, stating that planning authorities "should be primarily concerned with the appropriate location and design of telecommunications structures and do not have competence for health and safety matters in respect of telecommunications infrastructure. These are regulated by other codes and such matters should not be additionally regulated by the planning process."

The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) manages Ireland's radio spectrum, which is a national resource used to provide a wide range of wireless communications services including radio and television broadcasting, mobile telephony, and wireless broadband. In managing the radio spectrum, ComReg obliges network operators under a Wireless Telegraphy Licence or a General Authorisation, as applicable, to ensure that emissions from their networks do not exceed the public exposure limits established by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

As part of its spectrum management function, every year ComReg measures Non-Ionising Radiation (NIR) levels in public areas at a minimum of 80 different sites, located throughout Ireland. These are chosen based on demographic and geographic factors. To date, over 1400 sites have been surveyed and NIR levels at all sites have been found, without exception, to fall well below the international limits for public exposure set by ICNIRP.

The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for providing independent expert advice to the Government and to the public on exposure to NIR (including on relevant standards for public protection), as well as the monitoring of scientific/technological developments likely to impact on public exposure to NIR.

My colleague, the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communication, is responsible for setting policy relating to the health effects of Non-Ionising Radiation (NIR) including electromagnetic fields.

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