'Our hands our tied' 16 metre high 5G mast approved near West Sussex school

Friday, 25 March 2022 10:17

By Jessica Hubbard - Local Democracy Reporter

A new 5G mast and equipment cabinet which was subject to 40 objections has been granted planning permission.

Mobile provider EE submitted the plans in January. The company wants to replace an existing telecoms pole near Bohunt School, Broadwater Road, with a 16 metre tall, 5G enabled mast. In a statement, EE said: “The upgrade is required to provide increased 4G coverage and capacity and ensure that the mast is ready for 5G coverage and capacity.”

Around 40 members of the public objected to the plans, some of whom had addresses in other areas including Hemel Hempstead, Polegate, Tiverton, Torquay, Stroud, Steyning, Bristol, Hastings, Rodmell, Storrington and Stanmore. They were mainly concerned with potential health effects and the proximity of the mast to local schools.

One objector said: “The need to ensure that citizens are not exposed to electromagnetic fields at a level harmful to public health is imperative. “There has been no independent verification here that the standard will be met, that it will be safe for children or wildlife, or that the influence of other masts in the area will raise the level of radiation above the guidelines. “Without technical information, how can an informed decision be made?”
Another objector, a local child-minder, said: “A huge part of my work is safeguarding. “This type of radiation threatens the health and safety of us all, but particularly our children. “To ignore this would be neglectful at best and potentially criminal at worst.”
But Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee approved the plans on Wednesday (March 23) after hearing of several successful appeals over similar masts.

Planning officers said the council had lost three recent appeals for telecommunications schemes at Ham Road (by East
Worthing Railway Station), Goring Road, and Worthing Football Club.
During one of the appeals, the planning inspector concluded: “Any harm arising from the additional visual prominence of the mast is outweighed by the benefits accruing from the provision of advanced, high quality and reliable
communications infrastructure.”

In addition to this, new government guidance says such infrastructure can take place under ‘permitted development rights’ from April.
This means that planning permission will not be required, which could allow installation of masts of up to 30 metres tall without the involvement of local planning authorities, according to officers. This caused planning committee member Jim Deen (Lab, Central) to say: “Our hands are tied.”
Steve Wills (Con, Castle) said he ‘understands and appreciates’ the objectors’ concerns. But, he added: “From April they’ll be able to put a mast up anyway and maybe leave the old one there also. “I’m afraid it’s with a very heavy heart that I may have to agree that this goes through.”
The planning committee gave unanimous approval to the new mast and cabinet.

Why objectors are worried about 5G it would seem the objectors are concerned with radio frequency radiation and electro-magnetic frequency associated with 5G technology. 5G networks rely on signals carried by radio waves – a type of radiation. This kind of radiation also comes from television and radio signals, mobile phones, and sunlight.

Concerns centre around the fact that 5G uses higher frequency waves, which allows faster internet speeds for an increasing number of users.
In this case, the council asked EE to consider alternative sites but it said that moving the mast could interfere with the network.

The company added that ‘radio frequency power outputs are kept to the lowest levels’ possible while ‘still providing an effective service’. 

More details can be found at the council’s planning portal using the reference: AWDM/0025/22.

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