By Karen Churchill of Safe Tech International
Karen Churchill, one of three claimants on Actionagainst5G has joined with Legal Adviser Neil Mc Dougall to further challenge the UK government about their failure to enact public health protection. (Note UK/British grammar and spelling is intact.)
What is the nature of this legal challenge?
UK campaigners filed a comprehensive 81-page submission with the UK government legal department on September 12th, 2023.
The submission, filed in letter before action format, challenges the government’s failure to enact the public health provisions within the European Electronics Communications Code (EECC). The EU Directive was transposed into UK Law in December 2020 without clarification of the role of local authorities in regulating involuntary exposure of radiofrequency radiation.
Even though the UK have left the European Union, there is a three-year window specified in the UK EU Withdrawal Act which allows for legally challenging incomplete implementations of an EU Directive which has failed to protect citizens’ rights if there is an “of a kind” case precedent,
‘when a Member State has not properly implemented a directive, that directive can confirm rights on individuals that national courts must protect’.
The submission argues that the (Wells) v. Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions  ECR I-723 is “of a kind”. What is “of a kind” is open to interpretation and this is has been explored fully within the submission. Parallels of the Wells case being the local authorities had to act as competent authorities under a European directive regarding lack of risk assessment of polluting effects from a quarry.
Why is the challenge necessary?
Currently UK government policy constrains the local authorities to not set health safeguards other than receiving an ICNIRP compliance certificate, but this amounts to sham regulation.
The submission reports how this policy has led to a local authority condemning a resident to living in a radiation zone safe only for 8 hours and puts pregnant women and vulnerable groups at risk.
Across the UK, citizens’ rights are being denied; thousands of objections have been submitted evidencing specific science demonstrating risks to residents in close proximity to 5G masts, but the procedures, through which these risks should be accounted for, have been shut down by government policy.
The submission highlights the fact that risks from microwave hearing are not being acknowledged and need to be screened for. The public auditory exposure limit, deduced to be approximately 4.34 V/m, is an exposure level which the national regulator Ofcom has recorded in several towns since 2020. The submission calls for this oversight to be remedied (See appendix 2.4).
Risks to people with metal and medical implants who fall outside the ICNIRP exposure guidelines and the effects to people with Electrohypersenstiivity (EHS) are not included in UK local authority decision making which, the submission argues, is a breach of citizens’ rights.
Are children being protected from harm injury and nuisance?
The Case Officers when acting as competent authorities would need consider how, where and when, children are more vulnerable. Case Officers need to reconcile the fact that nearby schools are consulted as part of the planning consultation procedure but homes housing children, pre-school children and pregnant women are not consulted. Children at home are equally vulnerable in their homes, perhaps even more so when sleeping, so why the difference?
Matt Warman MP ex-minister for Digital Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), the defendant in the recent Actionagainst5G legal challenge, recently supported his constituents in their desire to not erect a 5G mast outside a school, by intervening directly with the Telecoms company. This clearly demonstrates a lack of commitment to consistent regulatory procedures – him pulling rank with his contacts at the top of Telecoms and making contradictory statements about safety is a timely demonstration of just how needed the submission is to address sham regulatory procedures. His actions may be well intentioned in supporting his constituents but his lack of commitment to functioning regulation is appalling.
“Over the summer, a number of residents contacted me about their concerns over a proposed 5G Mast in Wrangle, and many more attended a public meeting I convened in the Village Hall. I have contacted those people who signed up to be kept up to date on this issue, directly.
In the course of that meeting, the vast majority of people expressed their desire to see improved mobile coverage in the village and across the county, and shared the ambition I pursued as a minister to see this happen rapidly. As I said then, I am confident this technology is being safely deployed in the UK, as it is being around the world as well.
It is, however, also the case that the positioning of masts is an emotive topic, and in order to maintain public confidence it’s important that networks get these decisions right. I am pleased that following my intervention, the Chief Executive of Three has agreed not to proceed with the proposed mast outside Wrangle Primary School and has now committed to exploring other more suitable sites in the local area. While this may take some time, I will encourage the company to do so as rapidly as possible.
As always, my priority is to listen to and represent the views of my constituents and I’m glad to have been able to ensure action was taken in this case.” -Matt Warman MP facebook post 6th September 2023
The submission contrasts the claim made by Telecoms within planning application documents:
“There have been many independent scientific reviews, and these have consistently concluded that the international guidelines are protective of all persons, including children“ with information provided in a February 2023 paper authored by Davis4 et al:
‘Cell tower emission and ambient limits As shown in fig 7 numerous countries such as India, Israel, Greece, China, Russia and eastern European countries have RFR limits for cell tower network emissions that are much stricter than the limits of the US/FCC (although there is not always documented reliable monitoring or enforcement in every country). Australia, Japan, Italy and Switzerland have limits for areas such as schools and apartment buildings and areas where people spend several hours a day. Several governments, such as France, Israel, Greece and Switzerland have RFR measurement programs in place along with easy access to the data. For example, in France, the National Frequency Agency ANFR “Observatoire des Ondes” posts online the RFR measurements taken numerous times a day in various major cities. Countries such as Greece and Israel have policies in place that specifically restrict the placement of cell towers near “sensitive areas” defined generally as schools and/or homes and hospitals and provide for online access to real-time radiation levels. Greece further restricts exposure to a stronger limit within 300 m of sensitive areas. Chile’s “Antenna Law” has established mitigation measures in areas with dense infrastructure and prohibits towers near “sensitive areas” defined as institutions serving children, the elderly, and the medically compromised. Again, monitoring and enforcement are not reliably determined in many instances’.
Sustained campaigning across several councils exposed the government’s ambiguity and the local authorities’ inconsistencies regarding EECC public health obligations. This must now be addressed; the first suggested deadline to respond is Monday 10th October.
What is the potential impact of this legal challenge?
News of this legal challenge can be used by campaigners to open up and strengthen communications with their local council, councillors and MPs, as the submission is a comprehensive account of the consequences of the vulnerabilities arising from current regulation (Appendix 2.1-2.9), as well as providing authoritative evidence of the inadequacy of the ICNIRP exposure guideline (Appendix 2.7).
Campaigners informing local authorities that the legal challenge is underway affords local authorities the opportunity to declare their interest in the matter of EECC statutory obligations re: risk reconciliation being made explicit and defined.
Campaigners can use the submission to claim their rights are being violated when evidence within their objections is not addressed in Decision notices.
Remedy 6 calls for Environmental Risk Assessments
“1.7.15 LPAs/LAs as EECC competent authorities undertaking tasks/functions under EECC Recitals 105 and 106 by applying the procedural standard set to protect public health (paragraphs 1.5.7 to 1.5.9, above), require telecommunication service specific environmental impact assessments (EIAs) (paragraphs 1.8.8, 4.1.9 and 4.2.11, below) to be undertaken prior to mast/antennas siting and small cell deployment decision making.”
In Appendix 2.7 the submission highlights the challenge planning authorities face, statements from Telecoms about the risks as compared and contrasted with statements made within the International Commission of Biological Effects of EMF (ICBE-EMF) paper ‘Scientific evidence invalidates health assumptions underlying the FCC and ICNIRP exposure limit determinations for radiofrequency radiation: implications for 5G’2 including with regard to the scientific understanding of Electrohypersensitivity (EHS).
Case Officers enacting risk reconciliation under the EECC need to address such contrasting and conflicting evidence to determine the material planning consideration “incompatible and unacceptable” use of the land. Appendix 1.3 describes how one UK local planning board, Mendip, did follow the procedural standard in the EECC and weighed information about harms within 500m from a base station provided by objectors, set aside central government policy which requires a setback of around 50m, and refused the 5G mast application. Mendip decided contrary to government policy that there was not enough evidence of safety to proceed.
Electrohypersensitivity (EHS) is on the increase….
Appendix 2.9 reports on EHS as follows:
“An increasing number of individuals are being disabled by their reaction to non-ionising radiation (NIR) below ICNIRP guideline exposure levels as evidenced in Magda Havas’, ‘Electrohypersensitivity (EHS) is an Environmentally-Induced Disability that Requires Immediate Attention’ (2019)1 ‘Each day the number of EHS sufferers increases: according to new estimates, between 3% and 5% of the population are electro-sensitive, meaning that some 13 million Europeans may suffer from this syndrome’,”
The submission notes that both people who declare they are disabled by exposure and those who have been awarded disability and education plans, need to be included in the Telecoms specific Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
“Some of those cases have been recognised legally here in the UK, for example:
-an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) was awarded (July 2022) for a child on the basis of Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS) in August 2022 in the Upper Tribunal Court,
-a 59 year old social worker was awarded an ‘early ill health retirement’ for disabling ‘Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS) in 15th June 2022. Claimant successfully wins Appeal for Universal Credit on the grounds of Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS), and,
-a claimant was granted Universal Credit on the grounds of Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS) in January 2020” https://phiremedical.org/press-releases/
Havas3 reports that,
‘The European Union (2009) Parliamentary Resolution (2008/2211(INI)) Point 28, “Calls on Member States to follow the example of Sweden and to recognise persons that suffer from electrohypersensitivity (EHS) as being disabled so as to grant them adequate protections as well as equal opportunities.’
and that according to the World Health Organization,
‘a disability is an impairment that may be cognitive, developmental, intellectual, mental, physical, sensory or some combination of these. It substantially affects a person’s life activities and may be present from birth or occur during a person’s lifetime. The EHS symptoms mentioned above include sensory disturbances, physical disturbances, cognitive impairment, and also intellectual, mental and developmental problems that are covered under the definition of disabilities’, and that, ‘Sweden recognized persons with EHS as functionally impaired in 2000 . In Sweden, accommodations are made for those with EHS’.
The screening for avoidable harm, injury, and nuisance needs to acknowledge and seek to accommodate the needs of people with EHS disability.”
The submission requires that regulatory procedures are responsive to evolving evidence of risk
Remedy 9 of the submission calls for planning authorities to be fully equipped to respond to evolving evidence of risk:
“Remedy 9: acknowledgement of the reality that LPAs/LAs multi-factorial decision-making occurs where new circumstances/considerations demand cognisant, attuned, and responsive decision-making to balance policy, procedural requirements and compliance with legal obligations applied within their properly authorised jurisdiction.”
Campaigners across the UK are invited to inform their local council about the submission both directly to the Heald of Planning and also within objections to open planning 5G mast applications, the submission provides an opportunity to re-open the conversation about the real impacts of wireless radiation and can assist the local council in catalysing change in government policy.
Campaigners across Europe are invited to urgently investigate the details of how their country transposed the EU directive – it is likely that other EU central governments have also failed to enact the public health provisions within the EECC and have also not empowered the local municipalities to risk assess. All EU can utilise the legal arguments and evidence within the UK submission to file a parallel submission. This is urgent as making such a challenge could pre-empt the loss of local authorities’ powers implied in the Gigabit Infrastructure Act.
1) New Hampshire commission recommends a 500m setback to protect public health https://www.unh.edu/ece/NHCommission/Lenox,%20MA.pdf & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t85QgvfKNkE
2) International Commission on Biological Effects ICBE-EMF “Scientific evidence invalidates health assumptions underlying the FCC and ICNIRP exposure limit determinations for radiofrequency radiation: implications for 5G” https://icbe-emf.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/ICBE-EMF-paper-12940_2022_900_OnlinePDF_Patched-1.pdf
3) M. Havas ‘Electrohypersensitivity (EHS) is an Environmentally-Induced Disability that Requires Immediate Attention’ (2019)
4) D. Davis et al (February 2023) in a peer reviewed scientific paper focusing specifically on ‘Wireless technologies, nonionizing electromagnetic fields and children: Identifying and reducing health risks’
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