The council and 5G technology

We’ve been asked a number of questions recently about plans to introduce the new generation of mobile phone technology, known as 5G, across the city.

The questions have mainly been around whether the technology is safe or not, and whether the council plans to try to block or delay the introduction of this technology.

So here’s a summary of the council’s current position on 5G technology.

Economic importance

The council has a vital role to play in encouraging economic development in the city, and digital connectivity is a key part of this. 

It’s particularly important as our local economy has such a strong specialism in the creative, digital and IT sectors.

We’re keen to promote the most up-to-date and effective mobile and wireless technology for work premises in the city. 

Our residents also expect this in their homes and on their phones.

Public Health England (PHE) takes the lead nationally and provides expert advice on public health matters associated with mobile phone technology.

We have liaised with PHE to get the latest information and guidance and to seek their advice on whether there are any health risks for the public.

Within guidelines

PHE have told us that the current exposure of the general public to radio waves is well within the international health-related guideline levels that are used in the UK.

They said that when 5G is added to an existing network or in a new area the overall exposure to radio waves is expected to remain low relative to these guidelines. 

As such there should be no consequences for public health.

UK network operators implementing 5G are committed to complying with the current guidelines.

The ability of councils to influence the roll-out of mobile technology is limited by central government regulations.

But the planning system does require that any new installations are consistent with the international guidelines PHE adheres to.

Legal rules

We’re aware that Glastonbury Town Council has approved a motion that opposes the roll-out of 5G in their area until further information is produced by a local 5G advisory committee. 

However, Glastonbury Town Council does not actually determine such planning applications – whereas we do. So their position is not the same as ours.

Given the legal rules we have to work within as a planning authority, we are unable to adopt a similar approach to Glastonbury and our decisions would be open to challenge if we took such matters into account.

So we are not proposing to adopt this approach.