5G MAST: Second mast proposed 60 metres from rejected Bath site
Plans for a 5G mast in Bath 60 metres from a green belt site where the technology was branded “inappropriate” are set to be considered by councillors.
Telecom giants EE and Three saw their application to upgrade an existing mast in Charlcombe Lane thrown out after hundreds of residents voiced concerns about the potential health impact.
Vodafone is now waiting to learn the fate of its bid to erect a mast with a total height of 23.4 metres, 3.4 metres taller than the previous bid for Larkhall Sports Club’s playing fields.
A total of 131 people have objected, with many again raising health concerns.
One said: “To build a mast like this in such close proximity to schools, recreational spaces for children, houses, and beautiful countryside, when the long-term effects on health are still not known, is short-sighted, callous and driven by greed.”
Another said 5G was “untested and unnecessary technology”, adding that the mast would be a “blot on the landscape”.
A third objector claimed after a 5G mast was installed in Bathampton Down, a neighbouring farmer’s “cows have cancer and the bees in his hives have died”.
Senior councillors and Bath MP Wera Hobhouse were among the objectors to EE and 3’s application to upgrade a 15-metre mast that has been in place since 2006.
Mrs Hobhouse said in her objection to it: “I am concerned about the height and visual impact of the mast in a World Heritage Site.”
“Furthermore, I am concerned about the threat to human health, to tree health and to wildlife and biodiversity.”
She said given the “widespread concern” it may be worth applying a “precautionary principle”.
Cabinet member Sarah Warren, the ward member for Bathavon North, said residents did not want to be “used as guinea pigs in a global experiment”.
She told December’s planning committee meeting: “We don’t need 5G. The only people benefiting from this development are the big technology companies. Please put our residents’ health first.”
Cllr Warren has also asked for Vodafone’s application to be considered by the planning committee, saying the mast would be visually intrusive and that concerns remain about the “unknown health impacts of 5G technology”.
She said: “If locating masts in this field in unavoidable, surely it must be possible to combine the masts onto one pole, so as to reduce intrusion.”
Three people supported the application, with one criticising the “baseless hysteria” surrounding the rollout of 5G technology.
The government insists that the technology is safe, and when councillors considered the EE and 3’s plans, they were warned against “flying in the face of” that guidance.
The planning committee agreed that the issue of unproven health effects caused by the technology was not relevant to the application.
Instead the firms’ upgraded mast – which would have stood five metres taller than the existing one at nearly 20 metres tall – was refused because of its visual impact. Councillors said it would have been inappropriate in the green belt.
Assessing Vodafone’s plans, council officers said the antennae “would not be a visually prominent feature and would tend to blend into the backdrop”.
They said the development would be inappropriate in the green belt but there are “very special circumstances” to allow it – because it would prevent a mast being erected in a less suitable green belt site, and allow a temporary mast in Colliers Lane to be removed.
The officers said it was not possible to meet Vodafone, EE and 3’s requirements on one mast without replacing it with a more substantial structure standing up to eight metres taller.
Planning committee chairman Matt McCabe initially agreed with officers, saying that the design of the mast was “sensitive to its location” and that the visual impact was not likely to be significant, so he was content to delegate the decision on the application back to officers.
But he later reviewed that position, writing: “Having regard to my declaration of interest to the December meeting of the planning committee and the level of public interest in this planning application, this decision should be made by the vice chair.”
Cllr Sally Davis, the vice chair, recognised that the application was “clearly controversial” and there was a need for a consistent approach, so it should be considered by the planning committee.
Its next meeting is on February 10.
Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter
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