Norfolk wireless broadband project delayed by anti Wi-Fi group
A wireless broadband project in Norfolk has hit rocky ground after campaigners lodged health fears about the effects of the technology.
The WiSpire scheme, which is aiming to extend broadband provision in rural areas by installing transmitters on church spires, has attracted complaints from anti Wi-Fi charity ElectroSensitivity UK (ES-UK).
Explaining its issues with the project in a statement published by BBC News, the organisation said it is not opposed to the use of the technology in principle, but claimed research has shown several symptoms - including dry skin, chest pains and headaches - have been attributed to electromagnetic fields.
According to Michael Bevington, the group's chairman, between ten and 20 people in the area have got in contact with ES-UK who suffer from these issues.
"We just want people to look at all the facts and be very careful," the body added.
ES-UK issued its complaint to the Diocese of Norwich, with chancellor Judge Paul Downes set to lead an inquiry into the scheme later this month. In the meantime, the wireless broadband project has been put on hold.
Chairman of Postwick Parish Council Alan Wood expressed his frustration at the delay and insisted the local community is in favour of the rollout.
"The broadband here is very slow and we were looking forward to the project because it would improve that. There have been no local objections here," he stated.
David Broom from the Norwich Diocese revealed advice has been taken from the Health Protection Agency on the potential effects of Wi-Fi and said the chancellor wants to ensure the broadband infrastructure is "robust".
He added that Postwick, where the initial rollout is taking place, was chosen as a pilot "for a number of reasons including the poor signal and broadband reception".
If the green light is given for the WiSpire initiative to continue, it could pave the way for deployments across East Anglia in the future.