Several new environmental mayors wish to oppose the upcoming deployment of the 5G network in their municipality. The precautionary principle seems to be an uncertain means of action. On the other hand, non-compliance with the local urban planning plan or damage to natural and urban landscapes can be invoked by elected officials.
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Does the “green wave” threaten the deployment of 5G? While several large cities (Lyon, Bordeaux, Strasbourg or Besançon) will be headed by new mayors labeled Europe Ecology The Greens (EELV), their program questions, especially around this communication technology.
5G should supplant the current 4G by 2023 to allow a technological leap, with new (very high) frequencies and more antennas, by offering users much shorter transmission times on the internet: a “ultra connectivity”, claims (PDF) the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Posts (Arcep). Trade opening is expected by the end of 2020, once the government has given its approval.
But the new environmental mayors are not all enthusiastic about the idea of relay antennas for 5G in their municipality. “JI find it totally unacceptable that we can impose 5G “, got carried away on RTL the new mayor of Bordeaux, Pierre Hurmic, who wishes to boost “a real debate” It front of “dangers of 5G “. “I think we should put this discussion on the table and that the Bordelaises and Bordelais do not learn overnight that their territory is covered by 5G. “This reasoning is shared by the new mayor of Besançon Anne Vignot, interviewed by France 3 Bourgogne Franche-Comté.
“The deployment of 5G in Besançon, today, is called into question” Insofar as “we do not yet know the risks that we could run”said the environmentalist. The elected representative intends to invoke the “precautionary principle because we very often advance on technology without knowing what we are doing”, she argues.
The national secretary of EELV, Julien Bayou, supports these positions, he who also wants a moratorium on the issue of this technological development, as he explained on France Inter Wednesday July 1. However, is it possible for mayors, on their own scale, to oppose the deployment of 5G in their municipality?
According to three decisions of the Council of State taken in October 2011, this is impossible. First of all, the institution judges that “to generally regulate the location of mobile phone relay antennas”, “only the authorities ofState designated by law “ are competent, namely today the Secretary of State for Digital, Cédric O, Arcep, as well as the National Frequency Agency (ANFR). This triad is also held responsible for “measures to protect the public from the effects of waves “ emitted by relay antennas.
In 2011, these decisions were made following three municipal decrees to regulate the installation of mobile phone antennas. The Council of State thus clarified the outlines of the power of mayors: “A mayor cannot therefore regulate by decree the establishment of relay antennas on the territory of his commune, on the basis of his general police power “, judged the institution. The mayor may however be “informed, at his request, of the state of the radio installations operating on the territory of his commune”.
Impossible, in theory, to oppose the deployment of relay antennas. But is it possible to resort to “precautionary principle”, registered in the Constitution through the Environmental Charter, as the new mayor of Besançon Anne Vignot wishes?
It cannot be used for 3G and 4G networks because “in the state of scientific knowledge “, the State Council ruled in 2012 that the“exposure to electromagnetic fields emitted by relay antennas” had no detailed evidence establishing “a risk” for the public. A year earlier, the National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (ANSES) had judged (PDF) that it did not exist “no solid experimental evidence” which allowed to establish “a causal link between exposure to electromagnetic fields and symptoms” described by people who identify themselves as electrohypersensitive. The National Academy of Medicine went in the same direction in 2014, explaining that “we physiologically have no sensory system sensitive to these waves”.
However, for environmental lawyer David Deharbe, “the precautionary principle certainly remains usable. […] 5G is going to be a renewal […] It is a technology that has not yet been proven to be safe. ” And which we don’t have proof, either, that it’s dangerous …
Because that’s the problem: there is “significant lack or even absence of data ” on potential biological and health effects 5G highlights‘Anses. In September 2017, already, more than 170 international scientists have, in a call (PDF), “recommended a moratorium on the deployment of the 5th generation” so that independent scientists can study the potential health and environmental hazards of the technology.
The World Health Organization seems less worried, according to a text published last February on its website (in English), who claims that“To date, and after much research, no harmful effect on health has been linked to exposure to wireless technologies”.
As long as general exposure remains below international recommendations, no consequences for public health are expected.
Faced with criticism, the government reacted in late June 2020, at the end of the Citizens’ Climate Convention, by launching a mission that will work all summer to assess health and ecological risks, reveals The Parisian. In addition, the Ministers of Health and the Environment have written to the Prime Minister asking him to wait for the results of an evaluation by ANSES (announced for the end of the first quarter of 2021) before authorizing the deployment 5G, indicates the JDD.
For his part, Me David Deharbe identifies a possible channel of action for mayors and anti-5G associations: judicial expertise, ordered before a trial or during a procedure. “The advantage is that we will have a debate before the judge with arguments, a time when we [pourra] discuss different studies. But everyone still has to do it “, nuance the avocado.
Several means, already tested by 3G and 4G, are available to mayors who wish to counter the deployment of relay antennas. They can take opposition orders after the filing of the declaration of work carried out by the operators, within one month. “But in this case, the operators attack before the administrative court if they consider that the reason invoked is not valid”, tempers David Deharbe. As stated by the Council of State, the mere construction of relay antennas cannot constitute a sufficient reason.
Another possible remedy: if there is a Local Urban Plan (PLU) in the municipality, the relay antenna project must respect it, in particular with regard to the height of the installations or the nature of certain spaces such as natural or agricultural areas. Otherwise, the mayor may appeal to the administrative judge to decide.
Finally, the Town Planning Code protects natural and urban landscapes as well as monuments. Mayors can therefore challenge the installation of antennas near classified sites. “It is all the easier if there are elements to protect this remarkable landscape such as historic monuments. And we can act even if there is no PLU”, notes David Deharbe. A route that was used in the town of Saméon (North), where the judge of summary proceedings of the administrative court of Lille recognized that a project of antenna was “likely to damage its environment by its volume and its location”.