Health risk concern over West Hill substation plans


- Credit: Archant

Site near village primary school branded ‘worst possible location’

Concerns have been raised about plans to build an electricity substation near West Hill Primary School, amid fears it poses a risk to children’s health.

Revisions to the development of 25 houses on land north of Eastfield were submitted late in 2015 by Blue Cedar Homes - more than two years after the initial application was approved.

Residents and representatives reacted with alarm to plans for an electricity substation on the site, which has been branded the ‘worst possible location’ because of its close proximity to the primary school and existing homes.

However, the developer says it is a small facility (16 cubic metres) and typical of many in residential areas across the country.

West Hill Residents’ Association chairman Margaret Hall has lodged an objection on behalf of concerned villagers.

In a letter submitted to East Devon District Council’s planning department, Dr Hall said: “There is no information on the likely noise emissions from the substation, nor the likely EMF [electromagnetic field] levels [which arise from substations and associated cabling].

Most Read

“The proposed site for the substation is very close - less than five metres - from the nearest house, and also adjacent to an open area where it is likely that children will be playing.”

Another letter of objection from an Eastfield resident blasted the ‘cynically-timed’ application and said a substation would pose a ‘health hazard’, particularly to young children.

Devon county councillor Claire Wright said: “People living in Eastfield, in particular, are understandably concerned about the possible health impacts of a substation and I would have thought that building it next to a primary school would be the worst possible location.”

Town councillor for West Hill Jessica Bailey agreed the proximity to the school and homes is cause for ‘significant concern’.

She said: “Research [detailed in a parliamentary research paper] has shown that exposure to low-level EMFs may double the risk of childhood leukaemia.”

A spokesman for Blue Cedar Homes said: “The substation is typical of those seen in new residential developments across the country. Many are also located in the grounds of hospitals, schools and office complexes or within metres of existing or proposed housing.”

He added an application was submitted for necessary landscaping once a detailed specification came through from Western Power Distribution, which will own and be responsible for the operation of the equipment.