Councils and mobile providers are working hard to dispel any notion that the sudden and widespread increase in tree removals has anything to do with 5G.
We are not aware of any council in the UK or Ireland which has openly stated that the reason for the widespread tree felling is 5G.
However, there can be no doubt that huge numbers of healthy urban trees have been chopped down by councils in recent years.
The branches were damaging our lawnmowers
A Freedom of Information request by the Sunday Times found that more than 110,000 trees had been cut down by UK councils between 2015 and June 2018.
Reasons given range from the well-intentioned (preventing wheelchairs from passing, need to put in a new bus lane) to the dubious (it’s cheaper to cut the trees down than not to) to the inane (they were getting in the way of our lawnmowers).
It is however openly acknowledged that foliage impedes 5G signal.
A paper produced by the University of Surrey 5G Innovation Centre states that it is necessary for tree height to be at least 3m less than that of base stations.
The paper recommends increasing masts to 25m in rural areas. But in urban areas it notes that having adjacent trees and or buildings at comparable height to a mast can reduce coverage by as much as 70 percent in any particular direction.
In areas where buildings block signals from taller masts, thus rendering this strategy redundant, the only way to have 5G is by using street level masts and chopping down any existing trees.
There seems to be a broad correlation between areas that have seen the heaviest tree felling and those which are the guinea-pigs for 5G.
Co. Tipperary, for example, has seen public protests at the council’s “rigorous” policy of cutting down mature urban trees, and is one of Vodafone’s rural 5G trial locations. Waterford is another trial location that has also seen the sudden disappearance of a majority of its urban trees.
It is difficult to see how a healthy, mature tree could have been more of an insurance liability than the sad and frankly dangerous stumps now left sticking out of the pavement.
All about money
A company already advertising more than 1,000 “5G ready” locations in Ireland has responded to questions about tree-felling by saying: “We don’t cut down ANY trees. We will turn potential customers away if they cannot get a signal from the mast as a result of tree coverage, etc.”
One wonders how long this policy of turning away customers will last, given that Imagine’s home broadband package is €59.99/ month.
On the other hand, it looks like Imagine might not have to lift a finger as councils do the heavy work for them.
Yet again, there seems to be no argument against the fact that trees do interfere with 5G signal.
Urban trees have become an “obstruction”
The question is whether there’s any relationship whatsoever between an increasingly extreme removal of urban and roadside trees and the roll-out of 5G. Although nobody is officially admitting it, it appears that this is exactly what’s happening.
Forget the fact that trees are nature’s answer to pretty much every problem of our age: reducing stress, improving mental health, cleaning pollution from the air, preventing floods, supporting biodiversity, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and providing us with the very oxygen we breathe.
Of all the reasons to stop 5G, tree-felling has been one of the biggest factors in rallying Ireland’s protectors.
Perhaps this is a re-awakening of the respect for trees held by our Celtic ancestors. They had such respect for trees that heavy fines were levied upon anyone cutting one down, or even taking a branch from a sacred tree.
5G’s threat to our trees isn’t just about a futuristic man-made digital existence.
It’s an assault on our future, to be sure, but it’s also an assault on our past – taking us one step closer to forgetting that there has ever been any more to life than what we can see on our screens.
The battle lines are drawn.
ADDENDUM (16 March 2019)
Brown, Tim, Michael Fitch, David Owens, Simon Saunders, Andy Sutton, and Stephen Temple. 5G Whitepaper: Meeting the Challenge of “Universal” Coverage, Reach and Reliability in the Coming 5G Era. Publication. Institute For Communication Systems, University of Surrey. 5. Accessed February 5, 2019. https://www.surrey.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2018-03/white-paper-rural-5G-vision.pdf.
“Having adjacent trees and or building at comparable heights to the mast can reduce coverage by as much as 70% in that direction, which is not in the interests of the operator, the local planning authorities and more importantly the mobile phone user. This is the source of many of today’s mobile coverage issues. for consumers in many rural locations.”