Wicklow People

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Councillors vote to oppose 5G

Councillors voted in favour of a notice of motion opposing the roll-out of 5G at Monday's meeting of Wicklow County Council.

5G is the fifth-generation cellular network technology that promises to replace the current 4G network used by most smartphones.

The notice of motion was in the name of Councillors Tom Fortune and Mary Kavanagh and said that the county council has 'a social responsibility to serve, inform and protect the public and the environment from exposure to harm, and therefore it opposes the roll-out of unregulated 5G in the County of Wicklow based on the "precautionary principle" pending the enactment of Dail Eireann of protective legislation.' They also proposed setting up a 5G Advisory Council Committee or working group (including independent representatives) who would be mandated to report back to the council on the potential harmful effects of wireless EMF on the environment and in particular on carbon footprint.

Cllr Fortune added that a petition supporting the motion had been signed by 1,400 people.

Cllr Mary Kavanagh seconded the motion, saying she carried out a lot of research into the subject matter before deciding to lend her support to it.

'5G uses more power through higher speeds and band widths. It promises speeds of up to 1,000 times faster than 4G. Transmitters will be needed to boost the signal, which will result in higher levels of radiation,' she said.

Cllr Kavanagh also suggested that 4G should be used outside of places like schools, hospitals and other places that house vulnerable people, rather than 5G.

'We don't want to be exposing people to unnecessary risk,' said Cllr Kavanagh.

Cllr Irene Winters, the Council Cathaoirleach, asked Cllr Fortune and Kavanagh if they would be willing for the Environmental SPC look into the matter and report back to the full council, rather than having to establish an Advisory Council Committee. Both Councillors agreed to her suggestion.

Cllr Steven Matthews said: 'A lot of people are concerned about this but I am not too sure what we are trying to achieve here. How would we oppose it? Are they asking for a change of planning policy which would contravene Government circulars issued in 2012. It is an issue that needs further discussion.'

Cllr Rory O'Connor felt there appeared to be a lot of hysteria over 5G, comparing it to the reaction when radio was first introduced.

'When radio first came into existence, you had people wearing tin-foil hats because of the unfounded fears that were raised. 5G has been researched. It has been categorised by the World Health Organisation as the same threat as coffee. If we ban this, we are going to have to ban coffee as well.'

Cllr Jennifer Whitmore had also tried to carry out her own research but found it difficult to 'separate fact from fiction the further down the rabbit hole you go.'

Cllr Peir Leonard said she wouldn't be supporting 5G until she was 100 per cent certain it was safe.

Seventeen Councillors voted in favour of the notice of motion, eight against, two abstained and five were absent.

Wicklow People