By Ben Cornwell

The application submitted by the Wireless Infrastructure Group for the installation of a 20-metre-high 5G monopole at Halton Reservoir, Priory Road, has been met by a wave of objections from local residents.

There is an existing mast at this site, already 20 metres in height. It is proposed to replace it with a new slimmer 4G/5G mast and to increase ancillary cabinets at the compound from six to nine.

There have been 101 separate objections filed on the Hastings Borough Council planning portal compared to only four comments in favour. Local Group 5G Free Hastings are among those rallying for the plans to be rejected.

What are the benefits?

People are spending more time on their phones and on the internet, greater amounts of data are transmitted every year. The introduction of 5G is aimed at satisfying this demand while providing much faster download speeds. It will allow more devices to be connected with less interference.

CREDIT Dave Young

5G will not only provide faster connection but will also expand the types of services that are available. Autonomous driving, drones and immersive entertainment are all made possible. Current technology in many essential sectors including transport, healthcare and education will be improved.

Christopher Davenport comm-ented on the council website that Hastings finally getting a 5G rollout is “fantastic news”.

“I use 5G as home/business-broadband, replacing the copper wire that was constantly failing. The result is a cheaper monthly bill and a connectivity increase that has allowed my business to grow and commit to Hastings
(I upload and download large media files constantly), and work from home half the week. Consequently, I spend more time and money in the town.”

He added, “Any objection on the basis of health and safety would have to outweigh the very real benefit of increased connectivity to mental health, business benefits, economic activity staying local.”

Health concerns

Objections centre around the lack of data on the long-term effects of 5G. The World Health Organization has reported that “no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies.” However, it is currently preparing a review of evidence in relation to radiofrequency exposures and health. Many, not just in Hastings but around the world, believe that the roll-out of 5G technology should be halted until ‘sufficient’ data and evidence are available to support its long-term safety.

The location of the mast – adjacent to Ark Castledown Primary Academy, and with a couple of other schools and nurseries also within a 500m radius – is a prime concern, described as ‘irresponsible’ and ‘unacceptable’ by several objectors. They point to research which has suggested that children may be more vulnerable to the effects of radio frequency electromagnetic radiation, and therefore argue that exposure to children should be minimised. With the number of antennae on the mast increasing fourfold (from three to 12), several people sought answers from the council over whether this would have a negative effect on children in the surrounding area.

Guidelines contained in the National Planning Policy Frame-work of July 2018 state that planning authorities should not set health safeguards different from the International Commission guidelines for public exposure. 

The HBC Environmental Health department lodged a ‘no objection’ response on the planning file on
3 May.

Further mast sought on Rye Road

A further planning application has been submitted to HBC for permission to erect a 5G monopole on the grass verge fronting Rye Road by the junction of Winchelsea Road and Montgomery Road (above Aldi).

This one is to be 18 metres high with a wraparound cabinet at the base and additional ancillary equipment cabinets.

Consultation on it was opened on 11 May but closed on Wednesday this week. 

A number of objections have been lodged on the planning portal complaining of negative visual impact as well as raising health concerns. HBC’s Environmental Health department have again filed ‘no objection’.

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