New 20-metre 5G mast in Sedgley approved by councillors

A new 5G mast has been given planning permission despite health concerns from local residents.

Councillor Shaun Keasey in front of the current 14m mast on Gospel End Road
Councillor Shaun Keasey in front of the current 14m mast on Gospel End Road

An application to replace an existing 14m tower on Gospel End Road in Sedgley with a new 20m mast was granted by Dudley Council planning bosses after they were told the equipment conforms to international guidelines.

More than 400 people signed a petition against the plans, with residents claiming the 5G mast will pose health risks, not fit with the character of the area and amount to an unbearable eyesore.

However national planning guidelines prohibited rejecting the plan on health grounds due to it not breaking the international rules.

Councillor Shaun Keasey, who represents Sedgley, asked the planning committee to reject the 'monstrosity'.

Accepting there was a need for improved technology, he said the present tower at 14 metres was ‘innocuous,’ adding: “The proposed mast will be five metres taller and apparently covered in accessories

“It must be remembered this is solely a residential area. Many who have bought properties in good faith will have to open their curtains each morning to be greeted by the sight of this metallic monstrosity.

“Would you be happy with this?"

The proposals put forward for the mast

He added Beacon Hill, which already has a number of masts, was only a quarter of a mile away and would be a more suitable location.

George Oliver, an agent for the developers, said the tower would provide 5G services for EE and 3UK customers.

Addressing the issue of safety, he said: “The mast would emit radiowaves formally used for analogue television.

“These frequencies have been around for a long, long time. In regards safety they are constantly monitored and are way below what is considered safe.”

He added any power surge would trigger an automatic switch off similar to how a domestic appliance would trip a fuse in an ordinary home.

A report from planning officers warned the committee they could not consider health matters as the applicants have provided evidence the equipment conforms to international guidelines.

The report told councillors: “They should not seek to prevent competition between different operators, question the need for an electronic communications system, or set health safeguards different from the International Commission guidelines for public exposure.”

In response to claims it would be an eyesore, officers wrote: “The mast has been specifically designed for the site in question, taking into account the existing street scene at Gospel End Road.

“Although it will rise above the height of the existing installation, it is considered that the overall benefits of the scheme will offset any potential visual impact that may arise.”

Committee member Councillor Jackie Cowell said national planning guidelines gave councillors little option but to grant planning permission.

“I have some sympathy with what the objectors have said. My gut reaction would be to agree with them. Where I am stumped and where the committee is stumped, is by the national planning policies framework.

“Although I don’t really, really like this, I don’t feel we have any option but to accept it.”

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