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Council bosses argue against Government's 5G mast planning proposals
United Kingdom Created: 16 Oct 2019
COUNCIL bosses urged the Government to protect local communities as the rollout of 5G continues.

As part of a Government consultation, Blackburn with Darwen Council officials have voiced concern that local planning authorities are seeing their powers reduced.

The Government is proposing to amend the permitted development rights in England to grant planning permission for mobile infrastructure to support deployment of 5G and extend mobile coverage particularly in rural areas.

Related news:
Oct 2019, United Kingdom: UK Govt. proposes to remove all council powers to reject telecoms masts

In order to deploy 5G and improve coverage in areas with poor connections, mobile network operators will need to strengthen existing sites to accommodate additional equipment, and also identify and develop new sites.

These development usually require planning permission, either through a planning application submitted to the local authority or by Government granting it by using permitted development rights.

Now mobile network operators have identified to the Government that to provide greater mobile coverage and to support the deployment of 5G this would need taller and wider masts, building based masts located nearer to highways, and faster deployment of radio equipment housing located on both protected and unprotected land.

The Government is now considering further reforms to the planning system in England in order to support the network upgrades that will be required to deploy 5G and to extend network coverage, particularly in rural areas.

But council bosses say while the technology is vital, control over permission should remain with local authorities.

Director of growth and development, Martin Kelly, said: “Blackburn With Darwen Borough Council understands that rural communities are keen to obtain levels of digital connectivity such as fast broadband and good mobile ‘phone signals in order to support both work and leisure.

“Such technology is essential not only for our rural communities to remain vital and viable into the future but also to ensure that the emergency services, including Mountain Rescue, can continue to operate effectively across the borough.

“It is considered that the Consultation is very much operator led and appears to be removing further controls from the planning regime, which will lead to local planning authorities having reduced powers to protect their local communities.

“The requirement for new taller communications masts will have to strike a balance between the landscape and better connectivity and respect certain protected areas, in particular here in Blackburn With Darwen Borough, the SSSI site in the south of the borough, Country Heritage Sites, which contain significant ecological/biodiversity attributes, and the conservation areas.

“It is crucial that if the Government are to push ahead with the larger masts that they must accommodate more equipment, potentially reducing the number of masts required overall, and the design including materials of these structures are important issues to consider.”
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Source: Lancashire Telegraph, Jonathan Grieve, 13 Ocrt 2019

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