Greater Manchester MPs say councils and communities have been “left voiceless” over 5G mast installations as they called on the government for tougher regulations.

MPs in the region said they would back tougher regulations for telecoms companies who want to install 5G masts in the region.

Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi, Bolton North East MP Mark Logan and Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams joined a parliamentary debate on the matter on Wednesday, called by Oldham West and Royton MP, Jim McMahon.

They called on the government to force telecoms companies, such as BT, Vodafone and IX Wireless to undergo an application and consultation process before 5G masts can be installed.

Neither Bury South MP Christian Wakeford nor Bury North MP James Daly attended the debate.

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Current regulations under the National Planning Policy Framework give the masts prior approval for installation, meaning they do not need to gain consent from council planning committees to erect the masts.

Mr Logan said the masts “look like something out of a North Korean military base” and called on the government and companies like IX Wireless, to listen to residents over the issue.

He said: “[I believe] both the government but especially these providers such as IX Wireless need to listen more to residents and should have to go through a consultation process to make sure residents are consulted throughout this.”

Over the past few years, Bury has been subject to a number of 5G mast proposals which have drawn concern from residents, including controversial plans for a mast near a war memorial in Whitefield.

In March 2023, residents held a successful protest which prevented telecoms workers from installing an "unwanted" mast in Brandlesholme.

Earlier this week, Labour candidate for Bury North, James Frith, urged his Conservative counterpart, serving MP Mr Daly, to attend the debate, and said he should return donations he received from IX Wireless, the company behind many 5G masts in the borough.

Mr Wakeford also reportedly received a £3,500 donation from the company before defected from the Conservatives to Labour in January 2022.

Mr McMahon argued that while companies such as IX Wireless operate within the law, residents are being denied a say on whether 5G masts are installed in their communities.

MPs at the debate said they would support a Private Member’s Bill, raised by Hull North MP, Dame Diana Johnson, calling for a mandatory consultation period for the installation of 5G masts.

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Responding to concerns at the debate, Julia Lopez, Minister of State (Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure) and Minister of State for Media, Tourism and Creative Industries said she will meet with government colleagues and communications regulator Ofcom about the issue next week.

She added: “It is absolutely right that [residents’ concerns] are addressed because this is not what we sought to happen.

“There is an overall and well supported policy aim in relation to connectivity, [but] we do not want broad support for that connectivity agenda to be undermined by bad practise because reliable, fast digital connectivity is absolutely vital for the prosperity of our country.

“It is very important that every part of the country has fantastic connectivity, I do not want to see a digital divide emerge.

“The policy intention is to empower communities by making sure they have the infrastructure they need and I do not want them to feel this is leading to a deterioration in the overall amenities of their areas.”

IX Wireless said they welcomed any calls for "greater community engagement".

A spokesperson for the firm said: “We have continually engaged with local communities and where possible we have attempted to rectify any issues that residents may have.

“We welcome any calls for greater community engagement. It is something we have been proud of doing in the areas where our broadband service has been rolled out. The teams have worked hard to do this despite the challenges.

“We have regularly liaised with authorities and when asked to use ‘prior approval’ versus ‘permitted development rights’, the company, where possible, has obliged.

“On occasions, the telegraph poles have been moved or painted to ensure residents needs are met. In some locations the company has agreed to wrap cabinets with locally supported initiatives.

“IX Wireless has been keen to take part in the process of consultation and planning even when it not legally required to do so.

“We thank local authorities for their commitment so we can help deliver this network which will ultimately bring lower prices and more competition.”