Power lines top agenda in Parliament as Scotland demands action to save young lives

20 June 2006

MSP’s will hear today (Wednesday 21 June) the results of a ground breaking new survey which shows that more than 9 out of 10 Scots are calling for action which could save children from exposure to potentially dangerous fields from new and existing overhead power lines.

These lines have been linked to a massive increase in the risk of children developing leukaemia (Draper Report 2005).

The results are the most significant recorded since the debate on overhead power lines began, as the sample surveyed included one third who didn’t own a property, two thirds who didn’t have children and 92% had never been affected by living near or under a power line.

In total a staggering 97% of Scots want action taken including more research. Two thirds clearly want action now to stop the problem getting worse with planning controls introduced to stop new homes being built near power lines, including one third who went further by advocating burying existing power lines to reduce the fields emitted, even before the results of the latest scientific research is published.

Eddie O’Gorman, Chairman of CHILDREN with LEUKAEMIA who himself lost two children to cancer:

"It’s a very clear message for the policymakers in Scotland – even those Scottish people not affected want a moratorium on new building where it puts homes and power lines next to each other. We have a duty to do everything we can to protect young lives now and in the future."


These findings will be presented to the Cross Party Group, set up by the Scottish Parliament, by leading childhood leukaemia charity, CHILDREN with LEUKAEMIA. Following the publication of the Draper Report last year, which found a link between childhood leukaemia and high voltage overhead power lines, the charity are calling for an immediate moratorium on building new houses or schools near or under overhead power lines.

Other findings to be presented include:

  • 2 out of 3 Scots surveyed said that, due to health concerns alone, they would not buy a house situated near or under a power line.
  • Over 80% of Scots are concerned about the links between childhood leukaemia and exposure to electric and magnetic fields (EMF), with 1 in 3 Scots very concerned.

MSP’s will also consider the strength of scientific evidence for the link between EMF’s and childhood leukaemia and explore the legal framework in which precaution needs to be introduced by looking at UK and EU law and the experience of other countries.

While it is a rare disease, leukaemia is the most common childhood cancer. Despite the huge advances in treatment, leukaemia has claimed the lives of more children in the UK in the last five years than any other disease. The number of new cases of leukaemia is increasing each year and EMF is one of a number of possible causes. CHILDREN with LEUKAEMIA continues to fund an extensive programme of research into the causes of childhood leukaemia, including the link with electric and magnetic fields.

Ends

NOTES TO EDITORS

  1. TNS surveyed a representative sample of 365 people in June 2006 on their Consumer face-to-face Omnibus.
  2. The Draper report was published in the British Medical Journal in June 2005. It is the largest single study of childhood cancer. Carried out by the Oxford Childhood Cancer Research Group in collaboration with National Grid, it used the records of almost 30,000 children with cancer in England and Wales. The study found that children living within 200m of high voltage power lines had a 70% higher risk of leukaemia than those living 600m or more away.
  3. Programme of activity in Scotland includes scientific research at the University of Dundee, a scientific conference to take place this summer in Edinburgh and this autumn will also see the opening of the new Paul O’Gorman Leukaemia Research Centre in Glasgow.
  4. Power lines and/or exposure to EMF have also been linked with a number of other serious health conditions including depression, miscarriage, adult brain cancer and the degenerative brain disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
  5. An Early Day Motion demanding that the Government supports CHILDREN with LEUKAEMIA’s call for an immediate moratorium on new homes being built near power lines already has the support of 170 backbench MPs, including many Scottish MP’s.
  6. CHILDREN with LEUKAEMIA is Britain’s leading charity dedicated exclusively to the conquest of childhood leukaemia through pioneering research, new treatment and support of leukaemic children and their families.
  7. CHILDREN with LEUKAEMIA funds a worldwide programme of scientific research into the causes and prevention of childhood leukaemia.
  8. The charity CHILDREN with LEUKAEMIA, national Grid and UK Department of Health are jointly funding SAGE, the Government stakeholder process to determine practical precautionary measures on EMF’s. SAGE is due to report later this year.
  9. CHILDREN with LEUKAEMIA has called on the UK Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health, Caroline Flint MP to fund the health protection agency to carry out more research to establish the role of ironing and non-ironing radiation in the causation of childhood leukaemia.
  10. Those presenting at the meeting include Dr Adrienne Morgan and Katie Martin, of CHILDREN with LEUKAEMIA, Sarah Wooten of Bircham Dyson Bell Solicitors and Parliamentary agents and Liz Owen of Opinion Leader Research.

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