Concerns have been raised over a move to install a 20 metre tall 5G mast in a Norwich street, with neighbours questioning why it is needed in a conservation area that already has a mast in it.

The existing mast on Newmarket Road. The new one would be installed to the right of the lamppost. Pic: Google Street
The existing mast on Newmarket Road. The new one would be installed to the right of the lamppost. Pic: Google Street

Vodafone wants to install the mast in Newmarket Road, on the opposite side to Town Close Preparatory School. The mobile phone company already shares a mast with other operators there, but says it needs one of its own to provide 5G.

In documents lodged with Norwich City Council, Vodafone says 5G networks are much faster than existing technology – with download speeds of more than one gigabit per second.

But people living in the area have objected. David Bloomfield, who lives in Newmarket Road, said good practice over installation in conservation areas was not being adhered to – and questioned why sharing a mast had been ruled out.
He said: “It is Vodafone’s assertion that in this location it is better to have two masts, rather than one that would be more substantial. This is their opinion and have not consulted anybody who may be affected as the guidance requires”.
He said it could be that people across the country who already have one such mast near their homes could now end up with two, as 5G is rolled out.

The company says it needs a new pole – some 20m from the one it currently uses – because the nature of the technology means it cannot use the existing pole or share with others.
They say: “The 5G antennas are some three times as heavy as previous antennas, while the associated remote radio units also now need to be placed at the top of the pole, thus many streetworks designs are no longer capable of hosting all the equipment of two operators.”
A spokeswoman for Cornerstone, which plans and builds base stations for Vodafone and O2. said: “A new base station is needed at this location as the existing installation at Newmarket Road cannot be modified to include the equipment required for this upgrade.

“Five alternative sites for this installation were assessed but the proposed site was considered to offer the best solution locally.”

Last week, conspiracy theories linking 5G technology to the coronavirus pandemic were blasted as “utter rubbish”, after videos showing masts on fire were posted on social media.

Condemning the theories as “the worst kind of fake news” at a Downing Street press conference, national medical director of NHS England Professor Steve Powis said: “I’m absolutely outraged, absolutely disgusted, that people would be taking action against the very infrastructure that we need to respond to this health emergency.

“It is absolute and utter rubbish.”

Cabinet secretary Michael Gove added: “That’s just nonsense, dangerous nonsense as well.”

Cheers actor Woody Harrelson and former Dancing on Ice judge Jason Gardiner are among stars who have shared theories.

PUBLISHED: 13:48 06 April 2020 | UPDATED: 13:51 06 April 2020