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Department of Energy and Climate Change

Codes of practice

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Codes of practice on optimum phasing for high voltage power lines

In October 2009 the Government made its Response to the Stakeholder Advisory Group on Extremely Low Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields (ELF/EMF) (SAGE) First Interim Assessment: Power Lines and Property, Wiring in Homes and Electrical Equipment in Homes that was delivered to the Public Health Minister in April 2007.

In that response, Government supported the SAGE recommendation to introduce the optimum phasing of all new double-circuit high voltage overhead power lines of 132kV and above and to convert existing power lines where practicable in those circumstances where this would significantly reduce public exposure to ELF EMF and would be cost effective to do so.

Current Government policy on electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) is that power lines should comply with the 1998 International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) Guidelines on exposure to EMFs in terms of the 1999 EU Recommendation.

Two voluntary Codes of Practice have been developed and agreed between the Energy Networks Association (ENA) and the Government. Both Codes of Practice will apply in England, Scotland and Wales.

The first voluntary Code is intended to provide information to the general public and other interested parties about how the optimal phasing of high voltage double circuit overhead lines can help reduce public exposure to EMFs. The Code also sets out clearly what the electricity industry is agreeing to undertake and also how Government will monitor compliance with the Code.

A second voluntary Code of Practice has also been developed “Power Lines: Demonstrating compliance with EMF public exposure guidelines”. This Code of Practice implements current Government policy in relation to public exposure to EMFs and is intended to introduce clarity to the important process by which industry will demonstrate compliance. It sets out the measures the electricity industry will utilise to calculate and demonstrate compliance with assessment field levels in accordance with ICNIRP exposure limits to protect public health. The ENA will also maintain a publicly available list on its website of types of equipment where the design is such that it is not capable of exceeding the ICNIRP exposure guidelines with evidence as to why this is the case. It will also detail equipment that normally complies with public exposure limits but also where this will need to be demonstrated on a case-by-case basis when required, for example when apply for consent or a wayleave for a line or cable.

Further information can be found on the Energy Networks Association (ENA) website.

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