What 5G is

5G is the fifth generation of mobile internet (5G). It offers:

  • much faster digital download and upload speeds
  • wider coverage
  • more stable connections than we have now
  • greater capacity, allowing thousands of devices in a small area to connect at the same time

Find out more about 5G on the Ofcom website.

Economic importance

The council has a vital role to play in encouraging economic development in the city. Better digital connectivity is a key part of this. It’s  important as our local economy specialises in the creative, digital and IT sectors.

We’re keen to develop 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 guidance

A report on the health effects of 5G was discussed by the Health and Wellbeing Board on 28 January 2020.

Public Health England (PHE) provides expert advice on public health matters relating to mobile phone technology.

We've been working with PHE to get the latest information and guidance to understand whether there are any health risks for the public.

From the evidence PHE say that the current exposure of radio waves to the general public is well within the international health-related guideline levels that the UK uses.

When adding 5G to an existing network or in a new area, exposure to radio waves is low because installing masts must follow public exposure guidelines.

These guidelines written by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) have the support of:  

  • UK Government
  • European Union
  • World Health Organisation. 

As such there are no consequences for public health.

Public health guidance is not something planners can consider in deciding applications, but applications for masts should include a certificate of ICNIRP compliance.

All UK mobile phone network operators must follow Public Health England guidance on 5G.

There is also no evidence that 5G causes damage to wildlife.

Find guidance on 5G technologies and health on the gov.uk website. There is also a government short guide to 5G Mobile technology.

Applications to install 5G masts

Permission to install 5G masts

The council, as a planning authority, has to follow central government planning policy and decide each application for a new mast on its merits.

Most applications for telecommunications masts don't need planning permission when sent in for prior approval. This rule is set by government. This means council planners can only look at the siting and appearance of a mast when considering their decision.

They will also only consider any comments from residents that relate to these specific things.

What prior approval is

Prior approval means that a developer has to seek approval from the local planning authority (the council) that particular parts of the development are acceptable before work can begin.

This applies to the installation, alteration or replacement of any electronic communications equipment (including upgrades to existing masts).

The kinds of things that we can consider under siting include:

  • the height in relation to surrounding land
  • whether it is in a National Park or Conservation Area
  • the structures or buildings
  • how close it is to residential property

The sort of things we can consider under appearance include:

  • materials
  • colour
  • design
  • dimensions
  • shape

More information about prior approval is available on the gov.uk website.

Making decisions within the time limit

If the council does not decide the application within 56 days from receiving it, the application is accepted straight away and the build of the mast can go ahead.

This tight timescale means it isn't possible for the planning committee to consider these applications.

So that approval isn’t given straight away by mistake, which is what the law says must happen if a deadline is missed, the head of planning and council planning officers deal with these decisions.

When masts need planning permission

Masts will need planning permission if they are:

  • over 25 metres in height from ground level
  • over 15 metres in height on a building 

But tighter restrictions apply in certain cases, such as on lower buildings and in Conservation Areas and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

In most instances 5G technology allows for shorter and smaller masts that can be incorporated into existing street furniture (such as lamp posts). 5G masts are therefore more likely not to need full planning permission.

Where to find applications

You can view details of applications and give comments on our planning register.

Service update on Planning Application for 5G Mast at Park Lodge, Hove

During processing, it has come to light that the applicant did not issue prior notification letters to the leaseholders in the flats before applying. There is ongoing debate with the planning agent on this technical planning law matter, which needs to be clarified and resolved. The council has therefore decided to make the application invalid. This means that we will not be able to determine the application by the 16 August.

By making it invalid, the record will be removed from the public part of the planning register, along with all of the comments received by members of the public. This information will not be deleted and will be re-published  when the technical issue is resolved, along with a new determination date.