5G rollout

Some areas may be getting queries about 5G transmitting equipment. While the situation will vary from area to area (and we all know some areas don’t even have 3G), for those that are facing 5G rollout you may find this draft reply from our group on Merton Council useful.

Draft reply:

Thank you for getting in touch about the future of 5G across Merton.

We sought assurance from Merton Council that they are aware of resident’s concerns and appropriate action was being taken to ensure the right policies and procedures were being followed. You may find the information they gave us of some interest. They told us that Merton Council has had a contract in place with Arqiva (Virgin Media) since 2015 to enable the roll-out of wifi and 4G small cell transmitters. This allows Arqiva to pay to install equipment on Merton assets such as lamp posts. Although the contract allows for 5G equipment to be installed, the Council have said that there are no immediate plans for this to be carried out on Merton Council assets.

With regard to installing equipment on private land, Merton Council told us that they would usually be notified through the Prior Approval or Prior Notification process.  This means that the Government has made telecoms equipment exempt from needing planning permission, but operators still have to inform the Council of any installations, as is the case with BT in-link roll-outs.  Certain forms of telecommunication development, for example, mobile telephone masts, are known as ‘permitted development’ and subject to prior approval from the local planning authority (LPA). The prior approval procedure means that the principle of development is not in dispute. The LPA can only consider the siting and appearance of the proposal. Town and Country Planning General Permitted Development Order 1995 Schedule 2, part 24. The Prior Approval and Prior Notification applications would be received and processed by Merton’s Development Control team and would be available to view on the Council’s Planning Explorer.  In summary, Merton’s powers are quite limited.

National Government policy was stated in June 2019, by Margot James, Minister of State, Department of Culture Media and Sport. She said that the Government was committed to becoming a world leader in 5G, and for the majority of the population to have access to a 5G signal by 2027, and that the Government is working to create the right conditions for the deployment of 5G. Read her written statement.  

This nationwide programme is led by the private sector, governed by National Government planning policy and advised by Public Health England.

Public Health England’s opinion is that 5G emissions pose no adverse health impacts. This comes from their assessment of the many exposure measurements that have been made in the UK at publicly accessible locations near to base stations, which have consistently been well within the ICNIRP guideline levels. Read PHE’s document.

A petition was put to the UK Government and Parliament calling for an independent enquiry into the health and safety risks of 5G. This was answered in June 2019, and restated Public Health England’s view that the overall weight of evidence does not suggest devices producing exposures within current guidelines pose a risk to public health. Read the petition’s response.

Merton Council told us that it is not planning to consult locally on adopted National Government planning policy which is consistent with Public Health England’s advice. However, we are keeping a close eye on developments and will raise concerns should evidence arise from Public Health England that suggests changes to safety advice. You may therefore wish to contact Public Health England to express your views to them too: enquiries@phe.gov.uk.

Thank you again for contacting us.

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