Agenda item

DM/21/00952/FPA - Land South West of 2 Humber Hill, Stanley

Proposed upgrade to the existing base station telecommunications apparatus. Replacement 20m streetpole and associated ancillary works. 


The Senior Planning Officer, Louisa Ollivere, gave a detailed presentation on the report relating to the abovementioned planning application, a copy of which had been circulated (for copy see file of minutes).  Members noted that the written report was supplemented by a visual presentation which included photographs of the site.  The application was for the proposed upgrade to the existing base station telecommunications apparatus, replacement 20m

streetpole and associated ancillary works and was recommended for approval, subject to conditions.


The Chair thanked the Officer and asked the Mr Alan Robson, local resident speaking in objection to the application to address the Committee.


Mr A Robson noted he was a member of the Stanley Residents Against 5G group and explained they noted no benefit in having 5G in the area.  He noted the application stated the mast would only cover a 250 metre radius, approximately 100 properties in the area, a lot of which were occupied by older persons and therefore the application would not benefit the wider area.  He added that the applicant had stated the mast covered a 0.15 mile radius and noted that there were seven properties within the dangerous exclusion zone.  He noted that the mast was proposed as an upgrade, not as a new installation, which he felt was incorrect as the new mast was three metres from the original and the original would be taken down.  Mr A Robson stated that 180 scientists had signed a moratorium on 5G based upon its health impacts.  He added the application stated that it would benefit education and health, however, there was no indication that there were issues in terms of connectivity in those sectors.  He explained he felt 5G would not make an impact as, by its design, one would need to be quite close to a 5G mast to benefit from it, and therefore the Stanley Residents Against 5G saw no benefits to 5G whatsoever. 


Mr A Robson noted the existing 4G coverage at Humber Hill and stated that there was a huge cancer cluster in the Humber Hill / Wear Road area, and he understood, upon speaking to households in that area they all had issues in relation to cancer, including younger people.  He reiterated there were no education or health benefits for the area and that 180 scientists had signed a moratorium relating to 5G due to its health impacts on humans.  He concluded by noting Stanley Residents Against 5G believed that the negatives of the application outweighed the benefits.


The Chair thanked Mr A Robson and asked Mr Mark Steel, local resident speaking in objection to the application to address the Committee.


Mr M Steel stated that 5G was not 4G, adding it was not an upgrade to 4G, it was the antenna design.  He noted he was a weapons systems expert and added that people had not been told that the technologies involved had been developed to attack enemies on the battlefield and were not a telecommunications upgrade.  He noted that the antenna design could be up to 100,000 times powerful than a 4G antenna and that while 4G radiated following an inverse square law, 5G focussed the radiation.  Mr M Steel noted that the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) would state that there were no damaging effects from non-ionising radiation, Mr M Steel stated that was false.  He noted that non-ionising radiation was used in lasers to cut steel and added that anyone that thought non-ionising radiation that was focused in a beam was safe was not correct.  He noted that Public Health England (PHE) did not expect to see any further increase in radiation from the deployment of 400,000 5G masts across the country, Mr M Steel stated that was also false.  He added that people were being misled by public authorities and it was very concerning.  Mr M Steel noted that the fact that Government had stated the health effects could not be taken into consideration in planning applications was extremely worrisome.  He reiterated that the technology was derived from battlefield technology, noting he had seen images of those that had been attacked by such technology, and noted they were not very pleasant.  Mr M Steel stated that the technology was radar that could focus onto a target and he had documentation as regards the technology.  Mr M Steel noted the Council had a duty of care, with primary legislation to do no harm and asked how the Council could allow an act of Parliament to not take into consideration the serious detrimental health effects.  He stated that the Social Care Act 2012 noted that the Secretary of State had a duty to protect the population from non-ionising and ionising radiation and concluded by stating that was not the case with 5G.


The Chair thanked Mr M Steel and asked the Senior Planning Officer to respond to the comments from the speakers.



The Senior Planning Officer noted that in relation to the issue of whether the mast was new or an upgrade, the application represented a new mast, and while described as an upgrade to equipment it had been assessed as a new mast. In respect of the benefits of 5G to the area, she noted that the speed of 5G would be 100 times as fast as the current 4G, noting the example of being able to download a three hour film within a couple of minutes rather than the long time it took currently and added that it would be better for online streaming.  She noted that in respect of health issues she appreciated the significant concerns raised, however, PHE, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the UK Government had looked at all the information that was available from experts and they had come to the conclusion that adverse health effects were unlikely.


The Chair thanked the Senior Planning Officer and asked Members of the Committee for their comments and questions.


Councillor C Marshall noted the role of access to IT and broadband in terms of the economy and, having held the Cabinet role for Economic Regeneration, he understood the positive impact improved connectivity had on communities across the county.  He asked as regards the dangerous exclusion zone and whether there was evidence that the cancer rates were higher in the area described when compared to the rest of the county.  The Senior Planning Officer noted that as regards the exclusion zone, Planning Departments were not required to know the detail, however, there were guidelines as regards the exclusion zones and they were set by ICNIRP.  She added that mast operators were only required to self-certify when making their planning application.  She added that there may be properties within an exclusion zone, however, as long as the levels were within the guidelines then it was deemed acceptable and was not an issue considered by Planners.  The Senior Planning Officer noted Planners did not have the information in terms of numbers of cancer cases, adding that Planning was not required to consult with Public Health on such types of application, with submission of the self-certification in respect of compliance with levels meant that it would be acceptable in terms of planning.


Councillor S Wilson noted the challenge to the information from the WHO, PHE by the speakers and asked the Solicitor – Planning and Development, Clare Cuskin as regards the strength of any decision against the proposals would have, noting he felt it would be difficult to go against the information from Government and a supernational organisation in terms of refusing an application.  The Solicitor – Planning and Development noted that she agreed and stated paragraph 118 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was clear that Local Planning Authorities should not seek to impose health safeguards different to what was set out within international commission guidelines. 

She added that Officers were satisfied that the proposed development would meet those guidelines and therefore if the Authority were to refuse the application solely on health grounds then that would be very difficult to sustain at appeal, with potential cost consequences as a result.


Councillor B Bainbridge asked as regards the size of the mast relative to other street furniture, its impact in terms of visibility to the junction nearby, and why the location chosen was not Hilltop, being the highest point in the area.  The Senior Planning Officer explained that the mast would be significantly higher than the street furniture that surrounded it, however, it was conditioned to be coloured green to match existing street poles in the area.  She added that in respect of the junction the boxes would be set back from the junction and no issues had been raised by Highways.  It was added the site was chosen as it was an existing site, and rather than looking for an alternative site it had determined by the applicant as being the most suitable site.


Councillor D Freeman noted the concerns of residents, however, he felt there were no planning grounds to do anything other than approve the application.


Councillor S Wilson moved the Officer recommendation for approval, he was seconded by Councillor D Freeman.


Upon a vote being taken it was:




That the application be APPROVED subject to the conditions as set out within the report.


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