Agenda item



The following question was asked by Boyd Butler:


5G Base Stations


Will Reading Borough Council follow other cities across the world in delaying the roll-out of hundreds of powerful phased array 5G base stations across the borough, because of the thousands of studies proving that 5G is dangerous to the health of residents and living creatures?


REPLY by the Chair of the Planning Applications Committee (Councillor McKenna):


Mr Butler thank you for your question.  However, I do not feel that Planning Committee is the most appropriate place to fully address the context of your question.  This is a quasi-judicial committee that must act within the rather strict framework of published guidance operating underneath current UK legislation.


The relevant guidance in this case (amongst a number of others) is the electronic communications code published by Ofcom in December 2017 (which took effect under The Communications Act 2003) and the revised National Planning Policy Framework published by the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP as Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government 19 February 2019.


However that said, I can provide the reassurance thatReading Borough Council have already escalated our own concerns about 5G delivery, via the Superfast Berkshire Broadband Project.  This is the body taking a Digital Infrastructure Delivery role collectively across Berkshire on behalf of all six Unitary authorities.  We have received assurances, that both Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) are not only aware of these concerns, but that the Government has committed (as 5G continues to develop) to working with Public Health England’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards (CRCE) in order to monitor available evidence.


In an attempt to be of further help I will refer you to the following sources of information, which may be useful in explaining both the context within which planning committees across this country are compelled to act and the government's current thinking as to safety concerns and policy framework.


Planning committees - this question was asked in Parliament 02 April 2019

"To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of Permitted Development Rights in allowing installation of infrastructure to develop the (a) existing and (b) proposed 5G mobile phone network."


Answered 08 April 2019

"We published the revised National Planning Policy Framework in 2018, setting out national planning policies for supporting high quality communications in England. These include that the planning policies and decisions of local planning authorities should support the expansion of electronic communications networks, such as 5G.


We have also introduced a range of permitted development rights to support the delivery of mobile infrastructure, including legislating for higher masts in 2016, whilst also protecting local amenity.


We hope that these measures will be used by industry, alongside proactive engagement with the planning system, to ensure delivery of 5G. However, we will keep planning regulations under review."


Overview of the wider policy framework 

The House of Commons have published a 34 page 5G briefing paper on the 22nd of February 2019 which may be useful to you:


Safety concerns -This question asked in Parliament 21 May 2019

"To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to undertake (a) health-and-safety research and (b) a risk assessments before 5G is adopted in a localised test area."


Answered 29 May 2019

"Public Health England (PHE) has published a webpage about exposure to the radio waves from mobile phone base stations, including those for 5G networks, at the following link:


This explains the health-related reviews and assessments have been performed, as well as the practical measures that are in place to protect public health.


PHE advises that the guidelines of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) should be adopted and there is no convincing evidence that radio wave exposures below the ICNIRP guideline levels cause adverse health effects. The guidelines apply to exposures at frequencies up to 300 GHz, well above the maximum few tens of GHz frequencies anticipated for use by 5G systems.


Health and safety legislation requires companies deploying and operating communication networks to carry out suitable and sufficient risk assessments, as well as to put in place measures to reduce the identified risks so far as reasonably practicable. In controlling risks arising from radio wave exposure, the Health and Safety Executive refer to compliance with the ICNIRP guidelines. Industry has committed to comply with the international guidelines and to provide certificates of compliance with planning applications for base stations.


PHE continues to monitor the health-related evidence applicable to radio waves, including in relation to base stations, and is committed to updating its advice as required."


Regarding the petition launched in Jan 2019 signed by 32,454 people asking;


"Launch an independent enquiry into the health and safety risks of 5G.

As wireless companies prepare to launch the next generation of service, there are new questions about the possible health risks. The National Toxicology Program study "was just an indicator that more and better research is needed."

A government response was published 19 March 2019.


I trust this answer has been helpful to you.