Brussels’ first citizen committee has approved raising the city’s radiation standard, paving the way for 5G to come to the Belgian capital.
5G refers to the fifth generation of the cellular network your mobile phone accesses in order to be able to send messages and otherwise function while out and about, away from WiFi.
Telecom provider Proximus launched Belgium’s first “5G light” network in 30 municipalities across the country back on 1 April, but the network hasn’t been available in Brussels yet because it exceeds the Region’s radiation standards.
The joint citizens' committee in the Brussels Parliament has now approved raising the radiation standard from 6 V/metre to 14.5 V/metre, according to Bruzz, with an amendment added stating that this should be a maximum standard.
In Flanders, the standard is 20 V/metre, and the World Health Organisation recommends a maximum exposure of 41.2 V/metre.
The 5G rollout has been somewhat controversial in Brussels, with conspiracy theorists flooding the internet with misinformation and “Stop 5G” stickers appearing on lampposts and stop lights all across the city.
There were also protests in March from city residents who say making the switch from 4G to 5G will double the city’s data circulation and digital energy consumption at a time when the country – and the world – is battling climate change.
The citizen committee consists of 45 randomly-selected residents of the Belgian capital (including non-Belgians) and 15 members of parliament who meet regularly on weekends to deliberate city issues.
It was formed earlier this year in April, and the 5G issue was the first one it tackled.
Due to all the misinformation regarding 5G circulating on social media, the committee first spent weeks listening to testimony and explanations from qualified experts before beginning their debate.
In addition to raising the radiation standard to allow for the rollout of 5G, another adopted recommendation from the committee is the establishment of a public monitoring system on the health effects of radiation.
The joint committee also recommended looking into the possibility of creating 5G-free zones within the city, so that the effects of 5G on health and the environment can be compared.
They also argued that municipal levies on GSM antennas should be standardised throughout Brussels and determined on the basis of the “polluter pays” principle.
The recommendations will be further debated this Saturday.
Once all the recommendations have been voted on, they can serve as the basis for one or more amendments to the ordinance. These are expected in autumn.