Better connection alternatives to 5G trial for Coverdale, meeting told

The mast will be erected in West Scrafton in Coverdale. Photo: Hugh Chevallier/

Coverdale residents would have better broadband and mobile phone connectivity via the commercial use of emergency services masts and fibre-based broadband than the 5G testbed and trial, it was stated during a Zoom meeting organised by Coverdale Connect and Protect group this week.

This group has asked the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) to refuse approval for a 5G mast at West Scrafton in Coverdale not only for environmental reasons but also until there is an investigation into the impact of 5G technology on humans and animals.

When introducing the Zoom meeting, Coverdale resident Harriet Corner said: “I truly consider [this dale] to be one of the wonders of the world in terms of its beauty and nature.

“I had a rural childhood but now there’s little left of the wild spaces I used to know. The landscape is littered with masts, pylons and wind turbines.

“Let’s protect this incredible place for our children and grandchildren rather than put the landscape, the ecology and the health of our community at risk. But let’s solve our connectivity issues in a safe way that covers the entire dale.”

Anne Pilling, who lives outside Horsehouse in Coverdale, said that MANY (Mobile Access North Yorkshire project) was a publicly and privately funded consortium supported by North Yorkshire County Council which had been given £4.4m of government funding to trial 5G in the county.

She said the test area included West Witton, East Witton and Middleham but not the northern end of Coverdale beyond Gammersgill where the need for broadband and mobile phone connectivity was the most acute.

She reported that emergency service masts  installed at Coverhead and Braidley could be updated to provide a commercial service and that on January 21  YDNPA  had given permission for an emergency service mast at Gildersbeck.

“From my enquiries with EE this will provide 3G or 4G commercial service which should cover the [5G] test area,” she said and added that she had been told that within six months this would also provide a mobile phone roaming service.

She told the meeting that rather than the 5G test area having the  least connectivity more than 90 per cent of the households in it already had access to superfast broadband.

She added that fibre broadband was the gold standard as it was safe, faster than 5G, reliable, weatherproof and heat proof.

West Witton parish councillor Graham Bottley said: “My real concern is if 5G is brought into these areas with its inferior service that will prevent [residents} ever getting fibre broadband.

“My view is it will harm the community in terms of worse provision of service.”

He said that in the past West Witton residents had been told they would never get fibre-based broadband and yet this year it would be installed in that village.

But Coverdale resident Raymond Brown said that 60 per cent of residents he had spoken to were in favour of the 5G mast.

He questioned the statements made during the meeting that 5G was a health risk to people and the environment. He pointed out that the World Health Organisation and Public Health England had stated 5G was safe.

Mike Sparrow responded that such agencies and the British Government accepted the guidelines and safety standards set by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

But he added that the Appeal Court of Turin had judged the ICNIRP to be conflicted as a consequence of its members having direct or indirect relationships with the telecommunications industry, and accepted funding either directly or indirectly from it.

“The point we are making is that there are alternatives that would work better that wouldn’t expose us to the same potential risks.”

He said he had read many academic papers in which scientists argued there were reasons to be worried about 5G and non-ionising radiation.

He listed several studies which had reported on the adverse impact upon insects, animals, birds and trees.

There was, he added, the problem of latency – just as there had been with cigarette smoking so it could take decades before the impact upon health was known.

He said insurance companies were so concerned that they were unwilling to insure for any damage caused by such technology.

“If they are not going to indemnify us for any damage to our communities…  how are we to believe it is safe?” he asked.

A planning officer has recommended that the YDNPA planning committee on Tuesday February 9 should approve the application for a 5G mast at West Scrafton.

In his report it is stated: “This project is looking at how 4G/5G technology will benefit rural communities and is specifically targeting areas with limited or no current coverage, ‘not spots’, which include the Coverdale area

“The proposed installation will form an important link in the chain and needs to have line of sight with other local sites.” (These are at Yarker Bank Quarry at Leyburn and Penhill Farm, West Witton.)

The report continued: “[The] business model is to provide broadband coverage to the locations that the Main Network Operators (MNO’s) do not.

“These would otherwise remain as ‘not spots’ within the National Park.

“The site is not near to a statutory safeguarding zone such as a school. Paragraph 116 of the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) says that the need for an electronic communications system should not be questioned. It is considered that there is a justifiable need for a telecommunication site to be provided at this location.”

And on health issues it stated: “The applicants have provided a declaration confirming that the proposed installation complies with the International Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNRP) guidelines for exposure of the public to radio frequency and electromagnetic fields.

“All hardware on site would carry certification that indicates conformity with health, safety, and environmental protection standards. The mast would be located a significant distance from any residential property. The siting does not give rise to any perceived health risks.

“Nevertheless, objectors say that certain scientific studies are critical of ICNIRP safe exposure guidelines and consider that the development will have an adverse impact on the health of the public, wildlife and the environment and that a precautionary principle should be applied.

“The objectors refer to various scientific studies but none that can be applied directly to this site.”

For information on 5G provided by the UK’s mobile phone networks, click here.

For details of the MANY project, click here.

For information from Coverdale Connect and Protect, click here.



  1. I did state 60% were for! I also stated 30% claim not to know enough adout it to have an opinion!
    I have only personally independently found one person who is against 5G and therefore including all the people at the CC&P meeting deduce THAT A FAR MORE ACCURATE REPORTING WOULD STATE MY STRAW POLL CONCLUDED ONLY 10 % OF THE DALE WERE AGAINST 5G!

  2. As someone who actually lives in the heart of Coverdale, I would like to assure electors and residents of our small community, that accusations by those opposed to mobile assess in the dale are not dividing us, and there have been opportunities to discuss these proposals within the dale by those willing to attend and express their views in public.
    The Parish Meeting of Melmerby in August 2020 was well attended and held in the Memorial hall in Carlton. The meeting Secretary gave a helpful summary of the proposals to make mobile assess available in Coverdale and the Chairman gave ample time for discussion and questions, after which it was unanimously agreed to support further investigation, with no recorded objections. If electors don’t attend or support their Parish Meetings or Parish Councils they give up their freedom to take part in local matters.
    Having attended public meetings with our former MP over thirty years ago, when the first of the mobile masts were being planned in the constituency, I was reminded of the arguments against wireless phone transmitters, which was that cows would stop milking,, sheep become infertile and chickens would stop laying eggs. Apparently the same views were expressed in the 1960’s when plans were discussed for the Bilsdale TV transmitting station, which was build in 1969 and at the time was the most powerful in the UK.
    The irony is that the anti 5G leaflets that have been delivered covertly to houses in our area have precipitated further investigation into 5G and the claims by the objectors are found to be not credible and so numerous to be unbelievable.
    Hopefully the advice and experience of our Planning Officer will guide our elected members of the Planning Committee to reach a reasonable and enduring decision that will serve future generations in our community.
    The leaflet that was delivered to our doors today from H M Government “5G mobile technology; a guide” was concise and helpful, and put the whole matter into context.

  3. Interesting that my views have not been recorded here hmm as I was on the call and publically spoke about the benefits of mobile communication

    my statement was :-

    I’m not a scientist, or a QC or an insurance company BUT I am a resident and having grown up in the beautiful area which is Coverdale, I have been lucky enough to establish and run a successful catering business welcoming many locals and tourists to the Tupgill Park estate as well as calling this my home. I first heard of the project in 2019 via the Darlington and Stockton Times since then I have been following information and attending as many zoom calls with the parish and other bodies. I have taken a lot of time and effort to listen and look at the information given to me and opinions from my customers and sources such as WHO, Government, MANY, Ofcom and Cancer research to name a few it is a complicated subject but have decided to support this project.
    Theres a lot of information flying around and Initially we were told locally about a visually intrusive network and were told that repeater stations would be needed every 300 meters for it to work … This is simply untrue and only requires 1 telephone pole style mast in Coverdale. Possibly a second one in the future., So masts all over the place is not going to happen. This will provide much needed mobile communication as well as broadband with a minimum speed of 30mb. This will help people immediately who are in no man’s land with new technology as Openreach simply will not reach them for a long time.
    My personal belief in relation to safety and EMR is that I must base my decision upon the information that has been given to me by Government and associate bodies at this time and I must also have the belief that Government and councils would not deploy technology that is going to intentionally harm its population. And are acting in our best interest, We have been informed that the level of EMR is NOT 5g strength and is much lower and is more at the 4g level which was launched in 2012 that’s more than 8 years ago which if there were issues surely, we would have been informed by now.
    We find in this day and age that you can actually drive 40 mins or more from Pinkers Pond to Kettlewell with NO signal available and this need addressing. This is a busy route for tourists and people trying to work like other people in the UK on a daily basis.
    We have struggled and feel disadvantaged by not having any mobile reception here for many years. Doing business is getting harder and harder and in addition I face more and more customer complaints than ever. People in larger conurbations or other areas of the UK have had 2g, 3g, and 4g for many years now and if you have this connectivity people tend to take it for granted and the vast majority of people are shocked that we have NOTHING in Coverdale.
    I totally appreciate Local feelings are mixed Some parts of Coverdale will be lucky enough to get Fibre to the Premises and this will make a huge difference to the way we work and live but unfortunately, this can’t be relied on to provide total coverage. Like most parts of the UK communications need to be a mixture of both 1) Good Broadband and 2) Mobile Coverage. Broadband cannot provide a total coverage solution outdoors.

    Unlike a commercial entity such as EE or Vodaphone we have the opportunity to shape this and have engagement. Which you would never get with them.
    I really think we have a golden opportunity to change Coverdale for the better and for the benefit of our generation and the next generation. This is happening NOW and Personally I can’t see the need or desire for mobile communication diminishing and don’t want Coverdale to be ostracized because of it. Please support or work with the project. In our opinion Broadband alone is not sufficient to cover all outdoor spaces and there needs to be a balance of both to enable successful communication upon the project being completed this will provide and guaranteed SAFETY and security to ALL people and protecting ALL in Coverdale.

    • quote ‘I must have the belief that the government and associate bodies would not deploy technology that is going to harm its population’ unquote.
      Well Leo I would like to point out that the government of the day knew full well that tobacco was killing people – they knew that in the 1930’s.
      Money speaks louder than conscience my friend.
      I suspect you along with half the population would believe pigs could fly if the government and associate bodies said so.
      Wake up man. We live in a society that is completely money orientated – any health concerns will be shot down in the name of progression with a bucket load of greed thrown in.

      • Thanks for your comments and im very awake… .. I suppose .GOV, WHO, OFCOM, Cancer Research, MANY, NYCC, BBC are all wrong and lying to us.. naturally.

        4G Has been Around for 8 years and mobile technology has been around for much much longer. I have to base my decision on what is right at this moment in time .. And while you may not agree with me I respect your opinion and would hope that you respect mine … Cheap jibes & insults I have never put forward were all adults and should behave like adults.

        Please read my website with the benefits and I think at the moment outweighs the negatives .. There are risks to everything we do in life and the technology we have around us sometimes. Safety is the biggest issue and staff and customer well being .. NOT all information we have received from everyone has been correct has it ?

        • Given the lack of any form of technical consultation with the public and given the complete failure of ICNIRP and Public Health England to establish guidelines based on known biological effects of pulsed microwave radiation, it appears to me that we are living in the technological incarnation of the Wild West.

          None of the new 5G technologies (also true for previous Gs) that are being rolled-out have been tested in any sort of ‘clinical study’. The industry is flying blind and one might suggest that confirmation of this is the observation that Lloyds of London will not insure any of the service providers. This alone should be a wake-up call, not just to the industry, but government and especially ‘us’ …..the citizens (particularly the young and on their behalf, the very young).

  4. Dear Sirs,

    Land to the south east of existing agricultural buildings off High Lane, West Scrafton, Leyburn

    I note with interest this application to establish the means for Coverdale to have the undoubted advantage of good communications for its residents and businesses, which it is entirely fair to say, it does not have at present.

    A single timber pole of modest dimensions will almost certainly go unnoticed by the vast majority of people as do the many thousands of other poles in this Dale providing electricity transmission and telephone communications.

    Unless one is of the belief, false in my view, that the antenna, which will sit at the top of this post, are likely to ‘fry’ residents and wildlife in the environment with micro waves then to all sane observers this application should be approved without any concern whatsoever and the opportunity be grasped firmly.

    If, however one sides with the activists in the undergrowth, anonymously active in our Dale under the guise of ‘Coverdale Connect & Protect,’ then clearly such a pole and equipment is going to shorten our lifespan.

    I and likely the majority of residents, who are unable currently to enjoy the undoubted benefits of excellent modern communications here, will however be delighted to see the Planning Authority grasp common sense with a firm hand and determine this application by granting the provider approval without delay.

    I would therefore encourage all residents and members of the Planning Committee to raise their hands in the affirmative and fully support this welcome development.

  5. Dear Sir,
    Thank you for your balanced article. No one denies connectivity is important but MANY S project is mainly about testing the internet of things . 5G in China is about surveillance. The CEO of Huawei said , “Humankind does not need 5G it needs better broadband which 5G doesn’t provide ” . Yes if the trial wasn’t about testing augmented tourism, driverless vehicles, smart dustbins and drones ( which is all mentioned in their literature) but instead about broadband and mobile signal ( which those of us have looked into are a possible but not promised by product of this trial ) we would all agree with the above comments . There are better and safer ways to reach this desired goal which have been thoroughly looked into by the Coverdale Connect and Protect.
    We have a monopole overlooking our farm. It began as a short mast for emergency use /TV signal several years ago about 15 ft. It now dominates the sky at 60ft and can be seeen from miles around as it has continued to grow and more and more apparatus has been added. Metre readings taken are high and remain high half a mile away. Once a mast is in place it can be added to and transformed. If the electromagnetic radiation is shown to cause harm to human health in due course it won’t be the tech company that is liable but the landowner ( ( in some cases damages will be paid for claimants up to max 5m by the industry) but after that the landowner picks up the bill. As the insurance for health harm is not covered and a landowner is unable to refuse a mast on his land ; everything is loaded in favour of the industry. One of the government’s main streams of revenue come from Big Tech therefore it is not surprising that officialdom gives it their backing in the main and any debate is unwelcome. A mast can not be declined on health grounds according to government guidelines. It could be argued they are pollutants if the EMR affects pollinators and birds as shown by hundreds of research papers as well as human health at the present levels of EMR ,even before the added EMR from extra masts. and 5G. (There are rumours that the need for planning permission for masts will soon not exist. Presumably so there is less means of airing desent or inhibiting the rollout of Big tech infrastructure.)
    There are countries and cities deciding to stop 5G roll out until there is further science to show that it’s safe eg Brussels ,Sweden Frome . At present the industry has not run a single safety , scientific study to prove 5G is safe The WHO will run a safety study next year but as they have mostly the same members on their board as ICNIRP it’s unlikely this will be unbiased as most members have links to the industry .5G beamed technology can use similar wavelengths that are already in use but their delivery is different and need a lot more repeaters. The satellite system Oneweb which is needed for 5G delivery cost the taxpayer 500m last March when the company went bust. The government are fully invested in this programme.
    Coverdale Connect and Protect are shining a welcomed light into the whole area and debating the issue in a democratic way . As far as they are concerned MANY is not there for the benefit of the locals but for the benefit of this trillion dollar industry. Coverdale and West Witton are the first to participate in this experiment with no apparent safe guards except ICNIRP ‘s vague guidelines to protect them . ( PHE and offcom follow the ICNIRP guidelines ). If this experiment goes ahead unhindered which is likely , we won’t know the consequences perhaps until too late. At least there has been a debate and certain courageous individuals tried to stand up to what is believed to be a misinformation campaign by these vested interests and MANY . The debate has been done in good faith between the believers and those that question. I welcome that such debate can still be had , despite the lack of debate now found in some parts of the mainstream media.
    As a community we all stand together with the same motive ; we want what’s best for our community and both parties believe their view is inline with this sentiment. Hopefully we can welcome this dichotomy of view and respect each others position. Everyone is entitled to a point of view and to be made aware of the issues involved so thank you again for airing this in public for the public to make their own minds up. Protecting the beauty of this landscape is also vital for the future in my opinion !

  6. It is fair to say that people are not aware of the significant evidence showing harm from masts. Previously, Masts were kept a fair distance away from residential areas, this is no longer the case.
    What is really needed is for the public to be informed of both sides of the debate.
    Due to telecoms being huge advertising revenue for media, you will rarely see, if any negative press regarding the science (there are 30,000 studies showing biological harm) which shows clear harm.
    A court in Holland last month ruled that harm can occur at 1 v/m, the average town will be subjected to often from 250% (and much higher in future) greater than this by being few hundred yards away from a tower.
    History repeats itself, and along with tobacco, asbestos, DDT etc. Industry claims no health issues in spite of plenty of science demonstrating these facts.

  7. There is simply much concern about 5G. ‘Fifth Generation’ is a marketing tool, in fact, there is little clarity regarding what a 5G ‘roll-out’ or ‘Trial’ will provide. Professor Frank, physician and epidemiologist of Edinburgh University, wrote to the British Medical Journal last month, calling for the roll out of 5G to be halted until safety is fully established. Also last month, the Environmental Health Trust et al v. FCC is an historic case aimed at getting the FCC to reconsider, revise, and update its 24-year old exposure limits for radiofrequency radiation (RFR) from cellphones, cell towers, Wi-Fi networks, smart meters, and other wireless communication devices and facilities. In the UK, there is also a legal Action against 5G. Here is the link where you can access much information about all areas of concern. I would urge everyone to read

  8. Sadly, previously held positions seem to have been entrenched in the recent Coverdale discussion, about the pros and cons of the untested 5g experiment, making it difficult to hear the voices that try to explain the potential dangers to humans and wildlife in this two year MANY experiment, without our consent. Yes we have been informed by the MANY profit-making sales-pitch, but how many of the hundreds of scientific papers identifying the potential harm of emfs, even before they are upgraded to 5g, have been considered? We proceed with too little debate, at our peril, ignoring the fact that there are cheaper, safer, healthier ways of improving connection and that the phone signal is not part of the 5g package. When we do finally catch up with reality, as with asbestos, aluminium, mercury and lead, too many unnecessary sacrifices will have been made along the way.

  9. I am 14 years old and have been learning about history. I think I now understand why they say history repeats itself. There are collaborators, resistance, aggression and appeasement. The big people and the little people…. all my friends here know more people than they would like to who are young and have terrible cancers. We talk about why and we don’t know for sure. So yes, we want and now need our broadband connections but at the same time, some of us are scared. Please you older people, don’t forget about our future health. Thankyou.

  10. Raymond seems to think numbers are everything. Democracy can be a crude method of deciding anything, Democracy has resulted in many tyrants and dictators siting on the thrones. If you had three persons sat around a table two were fools and one was a wise person. Would you say let us put it to the vote?
    In this case having read the comments the wisdom appears to be coming from the anti 5G people who are willing to wait until more empirical science as been applied by ‘truly independent bodies. Whereas the pro 5G people seem to put their faith in the Bodies that have a vested financial interest and the Government – This same Government who have been responsible for so many deaths in the current Covid crisis with their faulty decision making.

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