Planning Department help

Concerning: Local Authority obligations in Law, and their duty of care, to Environmental and Public Health due to the proliferation of harm from an un-restrained rollout of Telecom networks, especially 5G masts and smart city networks, with no impact assessment:

Environmental impact – carbon footprint, in use and life cycle

Public health hazard – electrosmog, chronic exposure

Intrusive surveillance potential – inc smart city, mesh/streetlight systems

The Council can protect the public by making a reliable evidence-based determination of Telco 5G mast applications which take account all material planning considerations and related evidence. The environmental public health implications of the proposals merit evaluation in conjunction with the Local Authoritys Director of Public Health and/or an Environmental Health Officer, or another relevant professional.

If the applicant cannot prove that the proposed use is safe, the application should be rejected on precautionary and public health grounds.

A) EECC 2018 requirement – legal obligation to apply precaution

B) Material planning consideration and planning law

C) Human Rights

D) Refusing application on health grounds

E) Sustainability

F) Summary

A) EECC 2018 requirement – legal obligation to apply precaution

Ofcom are the National Regulatory authority, and the local authority are a competent authority under the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) that was brought into UK law in late December 2020.

The transposition of the EECC into UK law would have no effect on the status of local planning authorities where they are [already] considered competent authorities under EU Directive 2014/61/EC.”  Matt Warman July 2021

The EECC 2018 has clauses on public health.  This means that local planning authorities have to make human public health imperative and reconcile environmental and public health concerns under the code. Competent Authority status derives from EU Directive 2014/61/EU and requires the application of EECC Recitals 106[i] and 110[ii] as they apply to planning applications, and via 106 and Article 45 2.h)[iii]  the precautionary principle to be applied (the EECC refers to the European Council recommendations 1999/519/EC)

The European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) requires Local Planning Authorities to recognise and act upon Recital 110:  “the need to ensure that citizens are not exposed to electromagnetic fields at a level harmful to public health is imperative.”

The Council must determine what weight to place on the guidance.  The code clearly states that:

  • progress in science should be considered
  • precaution should apply 
  • guidance other than ICNIRP can be accepted

Competent decisions on RFR exposures may require Telecom applicants to risk assess and demonstrate safety in accordance with their ISO 9001 obligations.  As per EECC 2018 Recitals and ISO codes, all available evidence of non-thermal effects of RFR will have to be properly assessed to enable the Council as a Competent Authority to make an evidence-based determination of a Telecoms planning application.

As confirmed by a letter received from solicitors representing Public Health England (PHE) (Aug 2019), “the guidance is not maintained and revised by PHE for the explicit purpose of any body undertaking any other statutory function. If in any other context regard is had to the Guidance that is entirely a matter for the discretion of the relevant body and it must determine what weight to place on the Guidance given the clear indication as to the sources from which the advice and recommendations in the Guidance are derived. Equally, that body must determine what other evidence from members of the public or interested parties to consider in making any decision”.

The Recitals/Articles have to be enacted by ‘competent authorities’, and as the UK Government relies upon local councils to control RFR exposure through planning policy, councils must be ‘competent authorities’ for the purpose of Recitals 106 and 110.

B) Material planning consideration and planning law

Radio Frequency Radiation (RFR) exposures are regulated through planning policy (as reported in paragraph 4 of guidance issued by Public Health England (PHE), as ‘Mobile phone base stations: radio waves and health’  [iv].

RFR exposures are also defined as pollutants or potential pollutants under the EPA 1990[v], and this equally applies to their non-thermal effects[vi]  As such, there are health and environmental concerns about blanketing areas adjacent to the application site with more ‘electrosmog’. The evidence of the polluting effects of RFR must be properly assessed under an ‘incompatible or unacceptable use’ designation as a material planning consideration, and in accordance with the first sentence of para 185 of the current National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which reads:

‘Planning policies and decisions should also ensure that new development is appropriate for its location taking into account the likely effects (including cumulative effects) of pollution on health, living conditions and the natural environment, as well as the potential sensitivity of the site or the wider area to impacts that could arise from the development’.

Evidence of the polluting effects of RFR exposures raised as health concerns by objectors, and from other relevant sources, under the ‘incompatible or unacceptable use’ designation, must be balanced against para 118 NPPF guidance and the applicant’s ICNIRP certificate.  Paragraph 118 reads:

‘Local planning authorities must determine applications on planning grounds only. 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’.

Planning Officers cannot deny the significance of evidence-based objections made by the public concerning the siting of the telecommunication masts on health grounds.

Reliance upon paragraph 118 NPPF policy as being sufficiently protective of public safety, and for the purposes of addressing broader environmental protection concerns evidenced by the submission of the applicant’s ICNIRP certificate will not suffice as taking properly into account the polluting effects of RFR emissions.

As asserted by Lord Gill in the Supreme Court judgment in Suffolk Coastal District Council v Hopkins Homes Ltd,

‘the guidance given by the Framework (the NPPF) is not to be interpreted as if it were a statute.[vii]

Your Authority may assume that NPPF guidance can be viewed as a ‘material planning consideration’, however planning law dictates that considerations relevant to applications that raise ‘incompatible or unacceptable use’ grounds for refusal, including evidence of adverse health effects arising from the use of the land or building in question, have to be given due weight within a competent evidence-based determination.

Where NPPF policies conflict, material planning considerations and related evidence will be decisive. The application can be refused through a determination that ICNIRP certification made by the applicant is insufficient to counter the evidence that on siting grounds the applicant’s proposal is an ‘incompatible or unacceptable use’ of the land or building where the applicant intends to deploy.

Your Authority’s evaluation of the applications must also ensure that guidance issued by Public Health England (PHE), as ‘Mobile phone base stations: radio waves and health’  issued in September 2020,

and the ‘Code of Best Practice on Mobile Network Development in England’, issued as a Government/Industry initiative in November 2016,

are properly taken into account alongside evidence submitted by objectors, and from other relevant sources.

C) Human Rights

The LPA Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) under s.149 of the Equalities Act must be respected. You must consider people with metal implants and those who have a medical diagnosis of ICD10 W90 and who are suffering symptoms of exposure to non-ionising radiation. 

The LPA has a duty under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) Article 6, which must be respected. It is unlawful for a public authority to act in a manner, which is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.  There is UK case law (and examples abroad) that obliges LPAs to determine planning applications by sufficiently taking into account health concerns, and possible detriment to the value of properties, to protect objector’s human rights.

These duties should not be subverted by GPDO or planning policy, where there is credible weight of evidence concerning harm from chronic exposure to pulse modulated microwave radiation.

D) Refusing application on health grounds

  • Recent science papers from 2019, 2020, 2021 referenced below show significant harmful effects near masts
  • Children are more vulnerable and very recently scientists and doctors are calling for more protective guidelines:  5G space appeal[viii]  ,  5G Appeal EU[ix]  ,  International EMFscientist appeal[x]
  • Statements have been made on this matter in January 2021 by Professor J Frank in his essay ‘Electromagnetic fields, 5G and health: what about the precautionary principle?’, published in the BMJ British Medical Journal and Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health [xi]

Risks to health have been established as a material planning consideration. This new wave of applications for mast upgrades and new 5G systems results in a new more intense form of pulsed microwave radiation being emitted which will directly impact nearby residents. For studies on health effects see:

  1. Proximity to masts

Most new/replacement antennae are 5G – which are presumably M-MIMO phased array, and currently sub 3.6Ghz.  This is a new transmission type therefore public and environmental health cannot be presumed or properly risk assessed.

The increase in radial 4G radiation will also contribute further electro-smog, which is known to have non-thermal effects. The telecoms industry uses safety limits based on adult exposures which do not protect children and do not cover known non-thermal effects. I request in general that you consider placing an immediate moratorium on such new masts, invoking the Precautionary Principle, and under your own planning powers.

This 2010 Blake Levett and Henry Lai paper[xii] states 

“Both anecdotal reports and some epidemiology studies have found headaches, skin rashes, sleep disturbances, depression, decreased libido, increased rates of suicide, concentration problems, dizziness, memory changes, increased risk of cancer, tremors, and other neurophysiological effects in populations near base stations. While specific epidemiological research in this area is sparse and contradictory, and such exposures are difficult to quantify given the increasing background levels of RFR from myriad personal consumer products, some research does exist to warrant caution in infrastructure siting. Further epidemiology research that takes total ambient RFR exposures into consideration is warranted. Symptoms reported today may be classic microwave sickness, first described in 1978. Non-ionizing electromagnetic fields are among the fastest growing forms of environmental pollution.”

November 2019, “Limiting liability with positioning to minimize negative health effects of cellular phone towers”  [xiii]   

J D Pearce is warning telecoms companies that: “There is a large and growing body of evidence that human exposure to RFR from cellular phone base stations causes negative health effects and suggests not placing masts within 500 m of schools and hospitals”

January 2021, ”What is the radiation before 5G? A correlation study between measurements in situ and in real time and epidemiological indicators”  Madrid López et al [xiv]

Earlier studies showing increase in headaches and sleep disturbances have been corroborated in the January 2021 research paper from Madrid, which found statistically significant increases in both. Cancer rates were 10 times the national rate near the mast (direct causality is not claimed in the paper).

2) Children are more vulnerable

Children are more vulnerable to radiofrequency radiation due to their developing nervous systems.  ICNIRP (whose guidelines PHE Public Health England follow) do not acknowledge the non-thermal effects and claim they do not have enough science specific to children to alter their guidelines. Many independent doctors and scientists are pressing for more protective exposure guidelines and a precautionary approach.

Professor Tom Butler’s discusses this fully in his paper:  January 2020

“On the Clear Evidence of the Risks to Children from Non-Ionizing Radio Frequency Radiation: The Case of Digital Technologies in the Home, Classroom and Society”  

Professor Tom Butler, Submission on 5G for the Action Against 5G Judicial Review case 2020 [xv]

In light of these clear and present risks you should lawfully and correctly apply the precautionary principle and refuse masts also on health grounds, considering the conflicting evidence and policy demands.

E) Sustainability

“In fact, human societies do not have an urgent need for 5G, what people need now is broadband, and the main content of 5G is not broadband” Huawei’s founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei.

The need for connectivity through 5G is not outweighed by the negative consequences of increased energy use, it leads to an increase in carbon emissions not a reduction and will create an unacceptable depletion of Earths non-renewable resources. 

Please consider the following information when making an assessment of the balance between economic, social, and environmental objectives as required under the NPPF.

  1.  5G energy usage

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is already the sector of the economy with one of the fastest growing carbon footprint.[xvi]

5G networks will be more efficient on a per-gigabyte basis, but the massive increase in the number of sites and the energy demands of those sites will result in a corresponding spike in energy consumption.[xvii]

While each mobile generation has increased the energy usage (4G is already the largest energy guzzler among all types of networks), the industry expects 5G will multiply the energy use of mobile networks by 2 or even 3. The increase in energy usage will be unprecedented in the IT sector. Other estimates: IEEE[xviii] , The Guardian [xix]

5G’s improvement in energy efficiency (3-10 times) will be annihilated by the rebound effect; this is already confirmed by the industry itself due to the much higher amount of data (over 100 times) that can be exchanged on 5G networks compared to 4G.

A 5G mast can use the energy equivalent of 35 homes and double the energy of a 4G mast.

(According to Ofgem for 2020, a year mostly in lockdown, the average electricity use for a

household is 2,900 KW/h per year.  5G masts can use 101,616 KW/h per year. BT is the joint-largest private purchaser of electricity in the UK.)

5G phone masts use around two times more power than existing masts, thus greatly increasing CO2 emissions.[xx]

2) 5G and non-renewable resource depletion

In 2020 the High Council on Climate published its report “Controlling the carbon impact of 5G” that 5G technology could add between 2.7 to 6.7 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents per year by 2030.

The battery life of 5G devices will be shorter due to the greater energy they require compared to those that support previous generations.

Electronic devices used 10 different metals in the 1980’s. They now use between 40-50 different metals. Each metal requires large energy-guzzling facilities to be extracted and refined. All metals (except 2) will now become harder to extract and will see their costs increase.

If nothing is done, in the next 30 years we will extract more metals than we did since the beginning of humanity. The next generation will no longer have resources left to build unnecessary electronic devices and they will have to be satisfied with bare necessities.

Worldwide, 5G networks would require about 14 million ‘macrocell’ physical antenna sites, and at least twice as many ‘microcell’ antennas. This will require enormous amounts of extraction from the Earth’s crust. Deploying 5G networks will only speed up non-renewable resource depletion. Also, billions of 5G electronic chips will need to be manufactured from scarce non-renewable resources.

3) Environmental harm

All biological life is affected by the non-ionising radiation. All wireless technologies create oxidative stress in all life forms, humans, plants and animals (Yakymenko, Igor, et al. “Oxidative mechanisms of biological activity of low-intensity radiofrequency radiation.” 2016)

March 2020 Alain Thill (Master of Science) from University of Freiburg review of the “Biological effects of electromagnetic fields on insects” reports 72/83 peer-reviewed studies show adverse effect at levels much lower than the ICNIRP limits [xxi]

“The results show that EMF could have a serious impact on the vitality of insect populations. In some experiments it was found that despite low levels of exposure to transmitters, harmful effects occurred after several months. Field strengths 100 times below the ICNIRP limits could already have effects. Against the background of the rapid decline of insects and the further expansion of high-frequency electromagnetic field sources, there is not only an urgent need for further research, but also in particular on the interactions with other harmful noxious agents, such as pesticides. When planning the expansion of mobile networks, insect habitats should be protected from high-intensity EMF exposure already now. 

“Negative effects that were described in studies include: disturbance of the sense of orientation, reduced reproductive capacity and fertility, lethargy, changes in flight dynamics, in the success of foraging, in reaction speeds, escape behaviour, disturbance of circadian rhythms, blocking of the respiratory chain and damage to mitochondria, mis-activation of the immune system, increased number of DNA strand breaks.” 

The direction of the science is moving to show that the extent of harms to insects and pollinators in particular is significant and I appeal to you to apply the precautionary principle embedded in law as already described. (EECC 106, European Council Recommendation 1999/519/EC)

NPPF Section 15 paragraph 170d

 “Planning policies and decisions should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by minimising impacts on and providing net gains for biodiversity, including by establishing coherent ecological networks that are more resilient to current and future pressures.”

F) Summary

The difficult conflicts and contradictions between policies need to be weighed up.  The status of competent authorities must be clarified, and clear duties assigned for exercising the requirements on the EECC2018 – LPAs should seek this from central government.

NPPF section 10 supports the expansion of 5G but this co-exists with NPPF sections 14 & 15 which contain the policies and overarching intention and commitment to sustainability and pollution prevention.

The cumulative polluting effects via health effects to children, risks to wildlife particularly pollinators, energy consumption, and non-renewables depletion ALL together far outweigh any potential economic benefits. 

An LPA can justifiably require an applicant to risk assess a Telco development proposal against weight of scientific evidence of risks posed to the public. It is entirely legitimate for the public to expect that LPAs reject planning applications on the argument that the proposed use is an incompatible and unacceptable use of a building or a site.  If the applicant cannot prove that the proposed use is reliably safe, then applications should be rejected on precautionary grounds in the interest of environmental and public health.

[i] Recital 106 reads:

‘competent authorities should seek to reconcile the environmental and public health considerations in question, taking due account of the method and precautionary approach set out in Para 19, Council Recommendation 1999/519/EC’.

(para 19) ‘the Member States should take note of progress made in scientific knowledge and technology with respect to non-ionising radiation protection, taking into account the aspect of precaution, and should provide for regular scrutiny and review with an assessment being made at regular intervals in the light of guidance issued by competent international organisations, such as the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection’

[ii] The first sentence of Recital 110 reads:

‘the need to ensure that citizens are not exposed to electromagnetic fields at a level harmful to public health is imperative. Member States should pursue consistency across the Union to address this issue, having particular regard to the precautionary approach taken in Recommendation 1999/519/EC, in order to work towards ensuring more consistent deployment conditions’.

[iii] ARTICLE 45.2 h) 1999/519/EC
“1999/519/EC Council Recommendation of 12 July 1999 on the limitation of exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields (0 Hz to 300 GHz)”
(19) ‘the Member States should take note of progress made in scientific knowledge and technology with respect to non-ionising radiation protection, taking into account the aspect of precaution, and should provide for regular scrutiny and review with an assessment being made at regular intervals in the light of guidance issued by competent international organisations, such as the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection’


“’Control of exposures occurs through product safety legislation, health and safety legislation and planning policy. These regulatory areas all consider the international guidelines.”

[v] This policy para 185 ties in with UK law as in The Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999 which defines ‘pollution’ as including noise, heat, vibrations or any other kind of release of energy and 79(1) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 of which Paragraph 1(a) would apply for ‘any premises in such a state as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance’. The term ‘premises’ includes land which can also include radio masts. Paragraph 1(d) of this second Act applies to “any dust, steam, smell or other effluvia arising on industrial, trade, or business premises and being prejudicial to health or a nuisance”.

The word effluvia has been used in connection with a discharge – and microwave radiation is a discharge from the relevant transmitter. So this also applies to electromagnetism where the effects are likely to cause ill health or have other adverse affects.

The discharge is commonly referred to as RFR (radiofrequency radiation) and it is a pollutant that constitutes a “material planning consideration” which gives rise to “unacceptable and incompatible use of land” and this is a basis of legitimate rejection of such RFR polluting equipment planning applications.


A reliable starting point for studying the polluting effects of RFR exposure is the ‘EUROPAEM EMF Guideline 2016 for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of EMF-related health problems and illnesses’, 2016, Belyaev et al.

The guideline presents: a clinical framework for understanding the causes of injury risk/harm caused by RFR, and how to diagnose, treat, and possible ways of mitigating illness/injury.

The guideline describes: the carcinogenic effects of RFR pollution (page 5); the genotoxic effects, particularly DNA damage and the impairment of DNA repair mechanisms (page 6); neurological effects (page 7); and the effects of the pollutants on infertility and reproduction (page 9).

The guideline reports on: the health consequences of electro-magnetic hypersensitivity (pages 9 to 22); treatment strategies for EMF-related illnesses including EHS (page 13); the measurement of EMF exposure (page 17); and, on reduction/preventative strategies (page 20).  

[vii] Its purpose is to express general principles on which decision-makers are to proceed in pursuit of sustainable development (paras 6-10, now superseded by paras 7-14 of chapter 2 ‘Sustainable Development’ of the current NPPF) and to apply those principles by more specific prescriptions … (paragraph 74) …

In my view, such prescriptions must always be interpreted in the overall context of the guidance document. That context involves the broad purpose of the guidance and the particular planning problems to which it is directed. Where the guidance relates to decision-making in planning applications, it must be interpreted in all cases in the context of section 70(2) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, to which the guidance is subordinate’ (paragraph 75).