There is a lot of emotion involved when it comes to buying a house; it needs to be in the right location, be large enough for a family and, for some buyers, the issue of overhead power lines may be off-putting.
This also extends to buying a house close to an electricity substation.
One of the issues over living close to power lines is that a study in 2002 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) looked at the evidence as to whether living close to electricity power lines would cause cancer.
They declared that there was a possible cause of childhood leukaemia for those who live near power lines – but there was not enough evidence for them to come to a clear decision.
Are power lines near a house dangerous?
The findings fuelled a distrust of power lines despite experts and power companies stating there is no risk and the World Health Organisation also looked into the issue and supported the IARC’s evaluation – WHO says they found ‘no significant health issues’ at the levels the general public is being exposed to.
For those asking whether power lines are dangerous – there is no strong evidence to provide a link between cancer and living close to power lines and that should help close the debate. But it hasn’t.
Some researchers have since pointed to studies that suggest there is a potential link between the magnetic fields that power lines give off with childhood leukaemia but there is still no firm scientific evidence for this link.
Is it bad for your health to live near power lines?
The issue is that power lines emit a type of radiation that is known as extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs) but there’s no explanation for how these EMFs could possibly cause leukaemia.
Indeed, a large international study in 2018 of overhead power lines and childhood leukaemia also found there was no connection with cancer – even for young people living within 50 metres of a power line.
In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive has published a useful resource on their website that some people may find reassuring. The site has facts and figures which will reassure potential home buyers – and homeowners.
Do power lines decrease the value of a property?
Since the science cannot provide a link between living near to power lines and ill-health, the real issue is down to emotions – and it is this that affects the price of a property close to a power line.
That’s because for someone selling a property close to powerlines, they may find there are fewer people willing to buy, so the house price may be reduced to reflect this.
Various surveys put this price reduction at between 2% and 9%.
Potential homebuyers can check the concentration of the electromagnetic fields and also where underground electricity cables are for a substation before they buy what could be their dream home.
Finding out about the EMF
One way for a potential homebuyer to find out about the EMF is to contact the relevant power authority and ask them about the level and strength of the EMF of the powerlines close to the property they are interested in.
Also, there may be substation survey reports highlighting any potential risks for those living close by.
It also needs to be appreciated that electromagnetic fields also occur in our homes thanks to the electrical wiring and home appliances that we use.
Also, there’s no disguising the fact that we endure EMF every day from mobile phones, wifi as well as radio and remote controls.
However, these magnetic fields have low strength and other buildings and trees that are close to a substation can also help protect against the EMF.
How far away from power lines should you live?
Under the current laws, you will need to live at least 50 metres away from a power line as living within 50 metres is considered to be a safety risk.
And if you don’t see the power lines or substation on your home inspection, it is likely that a surveyor’s report will highlight the proximity of the lines or substation which may cause an issue with the mortgage provider.
For peace of mind, you can hire someone to carry out EMF readings – they will need a gaussmeter which will highlight that the EMF substantially reduces before the 50 metres threshold and continues falling the further away the reading is taken. The National Grid offers this service.
Pros and cons of living near power lines
As with all property purchases, there are pros and cons and here are some concerning buying a home close to power lines:
- Slightly lower prices to attract buyers
- You can find out easily what the EMP is
- Laws restrict how close a property can be
- More difficult to sell a property
- Potential issues with raising a mortgage
Essentially, if the property is more than 50 metres away from power lines then you should have nothing to worry about and have the opportunity of buying a dream home that may cost a little bit less than other properties in the neighbourhood.
If you enjoyed this article, you may also find the following useful:
- Should You Buy A House Near A Pub?
- Should You Buy A House Near HS2?
- Should You Buy A House With A Septic Tank?
- Should You Buy A House With Subsidence?