PLANS for a number of 5G masts have been given the go-ahead by the council.

Five applications had been made by CK Hutchison Networks (UK) Ltd for 5G masts in locations across the borough, stating that the new structures would help provide "the latest high quality 3G and 4G service provision" alongside new 5G coverage in these areas.

However, out of the five only two have been approved, with one application withdrawn and the other two refused planning consent.

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The two approved will now see the areas of Worsley Mesnes and North Atherton can now expect to see a 20m and a 17m slim-line monopole erected, respectively. 

In Atherton, this will mean a mast reaching 17m in height will be built on the grass verge at Spa Road and Hillside Avenue.

Despite objections raised by Councillors Gerrard, Watson and Hodgkinson about the visual impact, potential health impacts and lack of need, plans were given the green light.

It was viewed that planning policies and decisions should support the expansion of electronic communications networks, an officer’s report stated.

While the controversial plans went ahead at Spa Road and Hillside Avenue,  a second mast was refused at the pavement junction of Stanley Street and Leigh Road in Atherton.

This was a victory for objectors who lodged 40 letters to the council’s planning team.

Leigh Journal: The site at Stanley Street and Leigh Road was refusedThe site at Stanley Street and Leigh Road was refused (Image: Google Maps)

In the documents for the application for these 5G masts, the council was given papers from which attempted to debunk the myths and fears around the monopoles.

“5G is broadcast using radio waves, which are a type of radiation in what is commonly referred to as the ‘electromagnetic spectrum’,” it states. “Sometimes the word ‘radiation’ scares people, because it is an invisible thing and something many people do not understand, or easily confuse with ‘radioactivity.’

“Radiation is simply the release of energy, just like the light from the sun or heat from our bodies. Most radiation is considered harmless, or in scientific terms, non-ionising when used within guidelines.

“It is part of our everyday lives, without us even realising it. Radio waves are used by your TV, radio and remote control.

“5G uses a specific frequency of radio waves, just like 4G and before that 3G. The exposure to these radio waves is very low and crucially, many times lower than public safety guidelines dictate.”

Highlighting the benefits of this technology, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport shared a letter with local authority bosses back in 2019. The letter explained that a report estimated that local authorities will share collectively an annual £2.35 billion of efficiency savings, from reduced social care costs for the elderly through 5G monitoring, to savings through smarter street lighting.