A report is to come before Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s planning committee in an attempt to address health and safety concerns around 5G telecommunications masts.
5G is a new generation of wireless technology that will deliver reliable and faster networks of the future and will, those seeking to install the masts across the borough claim, provide “enormous benefits” for citizens, business and urban regions.
However, speaking at the local authority’s monthly meeting on Monday, March 27, Councillor Margaret Tinsley said she has been contacted by constituents expressing concerns about potential illnesses that could come from these masts.
The Craigavon councillor noted a certificate is required for Council’s planners to approve the application and sought clarity as to what exactly is required for the certificate to be issued.
“When these application come to planners all they need is a certificate and it ticks that box,” said Cllr Tinsley.
“This is not a criticism of our planners or planning department that is all they require to proceed with the application. However, as a councillor working with constituents and I am sure I am not the only councillor that is getting this, there is major concern out there.
“What actually is this certificate and what is the information saying within it.
“I would propose that we write to the relevant department that issues this certificate asking them to give a presentation to us outlining exactly what is required to issue this certificate.
“It is just to alleviate concerns and give us confidence in the health and safety of these 5G masts.”
Council’s head of planning, Damien Mulligan said he was happy to follow up on this and bring a report to Council’s next planning committee meeting on Wednesday, April 5.
“It is obviously of concern to members and I am happy to follow up and bring a report through to committee next week if members are content with that,” he said.
Cllr Tinsley then asked for clarification on the contents of the report and stressed that she is not looking information about what planners need, rather, what is required to produce the certificate that Council’s planners need to see.
Mr Mulligan confirmed the report could “set out in detail what needs to come in with an application and that could hopefully address the concerns”.
With Cllr Tinsley in agreement with this approach, Alderman Stephen Moutray seconded her proposal and asked if Council, as a corporate body, could object to a planning application if it was concerned about the impact it could have on a Council owned property.
Mr Mulligan said Council has a regulatory function to process an application but advised that if Council, as a corporate body, had concerns they could be expressed via its estates department.
“If an application was adjacent to a building which Council is owner of and we had concerns about the impact of that development upon that particular building then perhaps representations could be made by the estates department,” he said.
“We do have to be careful around processing these applications, there is the regulatory function but Council can take another position outside of planning.
“If we think as an organisation that some form of development could have an adverse effect, those concerns could be raised and they would have to be taken into consideration.”