CONCERN for local health was among the many reasons councillors voted to delay plans for a "huge" 5G tower in Reading.

The safety of 5G, the size of the mast, and the need to ensure it was as camouflaged as possible prompted Reading Borough councillors to call for an independent review into the project last night.

Councillors unanimously voted to defer a decision on the mast plans for Burghfield Road, Southcote, although some were reluctant to delay.

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The first call for a deferral was made by Green councillor Josh Williams, who said there should be an independent review of the safety of the 5G proposal before the plan is approved.

These thoughts which were echoed by councillor John Ennis, who agreed a comprehensive review should take place first to act as a blueprint for responding to future applications.

The applicant had provided an International Commission on Non-ionizing

Radiation (ICNIRP) certificate to support the planning application, which re-assured officers about health concerns.

One letter of objection had been sent in by a local resident, describing the proposal as “a flagrant abuse of our basic human rights and an abuse of the duty of care towards the population in the close proximity to this mast”.

The neighbour called for proper safety reviews to be carried out before building 5G masts.

Councillor Ayo Sokale warned there is currently no evidence that supports there being health issues with 5G and asked residents to refrain from damaging 5G poles.

Dozens of phone masts in the UK have been vandalised in recent, while engineers have also been attacked, over 5G coronavirus conspiracy theories.

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Concerns were also raised over the size of the tower.

The current mast is 15m tall and half a metre wide, while the new one would be 25m high and between one and four metres wide.

Cllr Williams said "such a big scale of change should be assessed properly from further afield”.

Lib Dem councillor Ricky Duveen said he does not have an issue with safety due to the distance of the proposed mast from houses in the area.

But he said a 25m mast would make a "huge difference” to the surrounding landscape and asked for photos to show “just how much the mast would stick out like a sore thumb”, calling for an outright refusal of the plans.

Heritage lead councillor Rowland agreed with concerns over size, saying the larger pole would impact on the view driving into the town from the south, with the tower sitting next to a 'Welcome to Reading' sign.

But she said she did not see a way the plans could be rejected.

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Councillor Jo Lovelock proposed a delay for another reason, wanting to make sure the mast would be as camouflaged as possible.

Planning manager Julie Williams agreed that more clarity is needed on how the vista would be impacted by the mast and how the mast would be camouflaged.

Her intervention won over the support of councillors who had been reluctant to delay.

Councillor Tony Page, lead member for Planning, one of the more reluctant members, said people should only reject the plan if they “do not own a mobile phone and do not have the intention of owing one”.

He added he would prefer to see one taller mast rather than a “proliferation of small masts on top of buildings”.