A local authority which has successfully bid to help lead the way with 5G wireless networks to overcome rurality issues has dismissed concerns over health risks associated with the technology.
North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for access Councillor Don Mackenzie has issued reassurances just days after Switzerland, one of the world’s leaders in the rollout of 5G mobile technology, placed an indefinite moratorium on the use of its new network because of health concerns.
The ban relates to uncertainty surrounding the effects of radiation from 5G telecoms masts.
Some 5G critics have contended the new network of telecoms masts generates radiation that can damage DNA and lead to cancer, cause premature aging, disrupt cell metabolism and potentially lead to other diseases through the generation of stress proteins.
Cllr Mackenzie sought to debunk claims that 5G technology could be unsafe as the authority which has faced significant challenges extending mobile coverage across the large county, revealed it had secured £4.5m of government funding to explore how superfast mobile connectivity could benefit rural communities.
It is hoped the scheme will bring “ubiquitous coverage of high-speed data and associated services” across the harder to reach parts of the county.
With a further £2m being added by the industry partners, the Mobile Access North Yorkshire project will aim to use innovative technology to bring mobile connectivity to the 35 per cent of the county which has no 4G mobile coverage.
It will also test how superfast mobile connectivity can benefit England’s largest rural county in boosting tourism, tackling social isolation and acting as an early warning system for flooding emergencies.
The project, which is a continuation of the technical partners’ previous work with the 5G Rural Integrated Testbed project, will investigate how rural mobile connectivity can help eliminate the not-spots of North Yorkshire by developing new technologies, apps and services tailored for rural areas.
It aims to understand how the public, private and community sectors can work together to reduce the cost of delivering mobile access in rural areas.
Cllr Mackenzie said 5G would open up a huge range of opportunities in the county, such as enabling more businesses to function well in rural areas and rather than being harmful it would boost residents’ health with the wider use of remote health services.
He added: “Members will be aware that there has been public concern with the health hazards associated with 5G networks.
“We saw the same concerns when mobile phones first came out 25 years ago, equal concerns expressed at 2G, 3G and 4G and again at 5G. There is absolutely no evidence that 5G networks are harmful.”
Cllr Mackenzie added: “Up to 85 per cent of our county is what is classed as ‘super-sparse’. Our population density is five times below the national average and our huge scale gives us particular challenges around digital connectivity and the cost of connecting the hardest-to-reach areas. This project is therefore a very welcome development.”