Edinburgh campaigner fights plans to install 5G masts at church where Newington Nursery is based

Cornerstone seeking consent to install eight masts on Edinburgh church spire
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An Edinburgh campaigner is fighting plans to install eight 5G masts on the spire of a church where a nursery is based, with the Minister at the church revealing he was not made aware of the proposals.

Cornerstone have applied for consent, having been already refused planning permission to install eight 5G masts on the outside of the spire at Mayfield Salisbury Church to replace two 4G antennas currently inside the spire. In their latest application letter Cornerstone indicated that "the local planning authority has suggested full planning consent would not be required", meaning locals don't have to be informed about the plans by the telecommunications company.

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Marc Wilkinson runs People-to-People.com, which highlights the installation of these masts in Edinburgh to make local people aware of the proposals.

Speaking about the proposals for the Newington church spire, he said: "I think the key thing is that nobody has been informed. But also the fact that it hasn't gone to a full planning application. It's already been refused.

"I want to find out why it's not going for full planning consent, which would inform all neighbours of the church, and would therefore be unlikely to go ahead, as who wants this on a church spire?

"There is also the safety issues. Health and safety has been determined by the government, it's not seen as a planning concern. The only thing that has been requested is that the applicants have to submit a certificate to say that the equipment will meet the guidelines.

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"They are marking their own homework and there is no teacher! The planning department are not allowed to question the certificate.

"We don't know who is doing the technical work, so the question is, when they use their modelling software are they able to see that there is a nursery at this location? With children just 30 metres from the masts, in the playground for say two or three hours a day.

"I have spoken to the Minister at the church. He was very disappointed to hear from me about this application returning. But he is kind of compromised as the church would get money for this. The church therefore must know about it at some level, but they have not informed the Minister there.

"However, the church might not know at all, as you can put in for permission without asking the property owner, and then offer money when the application is approved to carry out the work. I know of a cricket club in Edinburgh that gets £20,000 a year to have a mast."

Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church in Newington, Edinburgh.Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church in Newington, Edinburgh.
Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church in Newington, Edinburgh.
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Marc set-up People-to-People.com last year, providing a neighbourhood notification service for 5G mast installation applications, so locals can have their say.

He said: "As 5G has high frequencies, the wave doesn't travel as far as 4G, so it needs to be on the outside of the spire. What we are seeing here is the start of the process of replacing internal 4G masts with 5G masts on the outside of spires all over Edinburgh, and trying to do it on the sly.

"There are huge parts of Edinburgh that are conservation areas, so it's hard to get approval for these 5G masts in the city. There have been a few applications across Edinburgh refused already.

"So where do they put these masts? How can they roll out 5G in the city without masts? And we probably need about 10 times as many 5G masts across the city as 4G masts.

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"Not enough people are being informed about these applications. It's basically censorship. That conversation has not been had with the general public.

"I don't think this application will be refused again. Why would you re-apply? Obviously the planning officers and the agents are having conversations with each other. And this will not go before the planning committee.

"That's why I want to let people know about this through People to People. I'm fighting the lack of information given to the general public."

The deadline for comments on this application closes at midnight today, Friday, February 2. To support or object this application email: [email protected] with your address quoting 23/07419/LBC or click here.

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Reverend Dr Sandy Forsyth is the Minister at Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church, which is situated on the corner of Mayfield Road and West Mayfield in Newington.

He said: "We have objected to the current application and we were not given the proper notice, we actually found out about this from other people.

"After the application was rejected last year they have came back with this application to say that they will clad the antenna, but we have no idea what the will look like, as they haven't provided us with any drawings.

"So until we are shown how it will look we are opposed to this on the aesthetics of the impact on the building.

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"And, as a Christian organisation, we take the health of those in the congregation and in the community very seriously when considering the use of our buildings. That's a very important concern for us.

"This application has nothing to do with Mayfield Salisbury, it's the telecoms company. And now it's up to the local planning authority to decide, as have been all such decisions since the initial installation of a telecoms antenna on the spire some 22 years ago."

Plans have been submitted to install eight 5G masts at the church.Plans have been submitted to install eight 5G masts at the church.
Plans have been submitted to install eight 5G masts at the church.

Newington Nursery declined the opportunity to comment.

A Cornerstone spokesperson said: "Cornerstone understand that our mobile infrastructure impacts communities and can lead to concern about proposed developments. The upgrade to the existing base station at Mayfield Salisbury Church will provide improved network coverage for residents and visitors to the area. 

"We are aware that some residents have expressed their concern about the proposed appearance of the installation and adverse health effects from the signals. 

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"We aim to ensure that our developments blend into the local area as much as is possible while enabling quality digital connectivity to the communities we serve.

"All Cornerstone base stations comply to stringent international guidelines on health and safety. Below these Guideline levels there is no evidence of adverse health effects to any member of the public."