Exeter: St Thomas 5G mast on verge of go-ahead despite 150 objections

The fate of controversial plans to install a 5G mast at the St Thomas Shopping Centre in Exeter will be decided tomorrow (Monday, June 29). 

Proposals for the 20-metre-high telecommunication monopole in Cowick Street have been recommended for approval.

Applicant and mobile network operator Hutchison 3G UK Limited – commonly known as Three – says there is an ‘acute need’ for such a structure.

The scheme has attracted more than 150 objections and just five letters of support.

Concerns expressed include safety fears, perceived public health risks and calls for further research to on 5G  to be carried out.

However, the bid is considered to be ‘permitted development’ and Exeter City Council’s planning committee can only consider the siting and appearance of the mast.

Legal advice to members states that, while the introduction of 5G is a controversial topic, the Government and Public Health England say 5G is safe.

An officers’ report to the committee adds: “The rollout of 5G has raised concerns regarding public health associated with telecommunication equipment and the implementation of electromagnetic fields.

“International and UK expert groups have examined the evidence and have said it is possible that there may be a small increase in overall exposure to radio waves when 5G is added to an existing network or in a new area, but the overall exposure is expected to remain low relative to guidelines and, as such, there should be no consequences for public health.

“The applicant has submitted a certificate stating that the proposal will meet the International Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) guidelines as required by legislation. If the local planning authority were to refuse the application on health grounds, this would be an impossible position to sustain at appeal.”

The report adds: “It is considered that, whilst the proposal would result in some visual harm, this would not amount to a serious adverse impact on the character or appearance of the area, or setting of locally and nationally listed buildings.

“On balance, the visual impact is considered to be outweighed by the substantial public benefit arising from the provision of 5G services and therefore does not warrant the refusal of the application, with the economic growth and social wellbeing through the increased connectivity that 5G will provide, including home-working, connected transport and smart city applications.”

Exeter City Council’s planning committee meets virtually tomorrow (Monday, June 29).

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