A MAST which will allow for 5G coverage in Eynsham will be built, a council has ruled, despite worries from nearby residents.

The new 20m mast will replace an older 23m one on a small plot of land behind homes on Witney Road, Eynsham.

West Oxfordshire District Council’s lowlands planning committee approved the plans on Monday.

But residents in the area were worried about the height of the mast, with one of them appearing before the committee to tell the current pole loomed over nearby gardens.

Pete Sparkes, who lives at nearby Witney Road, said the new pole was identical in design to a plan rejected by councillors in 2018.

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He added: “When it was rejected in 2018 I had Mr Robert Courts here. He came in my garden and he said ‘I wouldn’t want it near my garden’.”

Mr Sparkes added the new pole would be 4m closer to his boundary fence than the current one and said he had seen government guidance which suggested 5G poles should not be built less than 500m away from properties.

However, council planning officer Chloe Jacobs said there was no evidence that 5G posed any health risk to the public, and added she could find no evidence of the guidance.

Ian Jackman and other Eynsham residents are disappointed by plans to build a 5G mast near their homes. Picture: Ed Nix

Ian Jackman and other Eynsham residents are disappointed by plans to build a 5G mast near their homes. Picture: Ed Nix

A council report on the planning application cited guidelines of a body called the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, and said there was ‘no compelling reason to warrant withholding planning permission’ for the new mast.

Local councillor Carl Rylett suggested the committee should defer the planning application because he understood there was a duty to show that alternative sites had been explored to prevent harm to residents.

Mr Rylett suggested hosting a 5G mast on the Oakfield Industrial Estate south of Eynsham instead.

But planning officer Ms Jacobs said the council did not think the applicant needed to find alternatives because there was already a mast on the site.

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Committee member Steve Good asked why, if the same application had been refused in 2018, he and his colleagues should approve it now.

The planning officer said there had been a ‘huge policy shift’ in the Government in the last few years towards expanding 5G and supporting better digital infrastructure.

Speaking after the meeting, Witney Road resident Ian Jackman said he was disappointed by the decision to approve the new pole.

He said: “It is disappointing the council has given into it because of a Government plan.”

Mr Jackman said he plans to write to WODC to express his concerns about the mast.

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