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Wrexham Council refused 5G mast plan for Hightown

CONTROVERSIAL plans for a 17 metre high 5G mast at a junction in Wrexham have been rejected by the council.

Wrexham Council has turned down an application for a telecommunications pole and cabinets earmarked for the corner of Percy Road and Stockwell Grove in Hightown.

The application was submitted by Gallivan CK Hutchinson Networks (UK) Ltd. 5G, short for ‘fifth-generation mobile networks’, provides faster speeds than achievable with other networks, up to between 1GBps and 10GBps.

Included within planning documents was a briefing note from Mobile UK, the trade association for the UK’s mobile network operators.

It pulled together a consensus of views from independent public health authorities, including Public Health England, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other expert groups that these UK exposure guidelines provide protection for all people, including children, against all established health hazards related to signals.

In the planning statement submitted with the application, the company outlined it was also aware of the balance to be struck between visual impact and the benefits it would provide.

The statement said: “The very nature of installing new 5G mast infrastructure within such an urban setting requires a highly considered balance between the need to extend practical coverage reach with that of increasing risk of visual amenity intrusion.

“In this location, existing mast sites are not capable of supporting additional equipment compliment to extend coverage reach across the target area and prospective ‘in-fill’ mast sites are extremely limited.

“There is an acute need for a new base station to provide effective service coverage and in this case, the height of the proposed street pole is the minimum required to bring the benefits of 5G to this area.”

There was also a four year-old supportive letter included in the planning documents from the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) outlining the benefits of 5G and ambitions for nationwide coverage by 2033.

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It said: “Government is committed to supporting investment in high-quality, reliable digital connectivity so that communities can benefit from faster economic growth and greater social inclusion.

How the 5G mast would look. Source – Wrexham Council planning documents.

“It is essential to keep pace with growing demand for internet bandwidth and mobile data from local businesses, residents and those who visit our communities.

“As outlined in the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review, the Government would like to see nationwide full fibre coverage by 2033.

“We would also like the UK to be a world leader in 5G, with the majority of the population covered by a 5G signal by 2027. We are writing to ask for your help in supporting the investment necessary to achieve these objectives.”

But residents in Hightown had a number of concerns, leading to public meetings being organised in the last few weeks by ward councillors, Hermitage Cllr Graham Rogers (Lab) and Erddig Cllr Paul Roberts (Con).

Ultimately, Wrexham Council’s chief officer for planning and economy David Fitzsimon rejected the proposal on the grounds that it would cause a detrimental visual impact.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Cllr Graham Rogers said he welcomed the decision.

“It was a sore topic for many weeks with a lot of people in the Percy Road and Stockwell Grove area”, he said.

“Myself and Cllr Paul Roberts had a couple of public meetings where people voiced their concerns and listened to what was said.

“Whether it will come back on appeal remains to be seen but for now we are content with the decision.”