Portrait of Chris Thomas MHKThere will be no 5G network in the island unless all public health fears are allayed.

The Policy and Reform Minister gave this commitment in the same week that telecoms provider Sure announced it began trials of 5G in the island last week.

Chris Thomas was speaking as Tynwald voted to remove the requirement for telecoms infrastructure to go through the full planning process.

He said that the move ’is only applicable to licensed operators’ and would ensure ’a proportionate level of scrutiny that balances the need for technological improvements with the wider public interest’.

Mr Thomas (pictured) added: ’The intention is to ensure that our community and businesses receive the most comprehensive mobile service and coverage which help make our lives easier and businesses more profitable.’

All Tynwald members, with the exception of Onchan MHKs Rob Callister and Julie Edge voted for the motion to remove the need for most new phone mast to go through the full planning application system.

The introduction of 5G has been fought by campaigners who have said it will cause health problems for humans and disrupt wildlife such as bees.

Mr Thomas has said that the government will not allow 5G to be introduced in the island if these claims prove true.

He told Tynwald: ’We are not in any way dimishing concerns about public health because there are massive concerns out there.

’I can absolutely assure this honourable court and the wider public if those concerns resulted in any changes to the guidelines to the international [public health] bodies, that would be implemented in the Isle of Man from day one.’

Minutes from strategic board meetings for the Promenade redevelopment scheme reveal that the scheme has been designed for 5G. And they show that 12m-high columns that will be placed at 250m intervals along the entire length of the seaward side of the prom for the network have already been delivered.

This month’s Tynwald sitting came in the same week that Sure confirmed it has started trialling 5G in parts of the island’s capital.

The telecoms company said in a press release that on Friday last week it began testing the network in the areas of Tromode, Woodbourne Road and the central business district with plans to carry on with the testing until 2020.

Sure said the leap from today’s fixed and mobile technology is ’significant’ with 5G being ’20-40 times faster than the broadband most people use at home and work’.

Mike Phillips, chief executive of Sure in the Isle of Man said: ’5G is the future which offers the opportunity to connect communities in ways we’ve never seen before so we’re excited to be launching this comprehensive trial to assess the different ways consumers and businesses will want to use this ground breaking technology.

’We want 5G to benefit everyone in the Isle of Man so it’s very important for us that our community can trial this latest technology and give feedback on their experience so we can develop a network that is truly impactful and beneficial to their daily lives.

’This investment firmly positions the island at the forefront of next generation mobile services which will shape the future of 5G on island and will include testing the feasibility of providing enhanced ultra-highspeed broadband services via 5G in the island.’