The government is urging councils to distribute new leaflets aiming to “quell quack theories about 5G” following a spate of vandalism targeting phone masts.
Unfounded claims that the new mobile phone technology spreads coronavirus or causes other types of harm were the most common type of misinformation seen by the British public during lockdown, according to Ofcom research.
The government warned that damaging communications masts could cost lives if emergency calls could not be made.
Ministers have written to local councils to promote a new guide that can be handed out to worried people in an effort to dispel misleading claims on social media.
The information pamphlet explains how 5G works and states that watchdog Ofcom found the wave emission readings taken from the masts are “a small fraction” of the amount permitted by the International Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).
The guide, published on Thursday, says: “Companies have been rolling out 5G in the UK since 2019.
“However, some people have raised concerns that the introduction of 5G could affect people’s health and have even linked it to the coronavirus pandemic.
“These claims are completely unfounded and should not be used as a basis to block or delay 5G rollout.”
Matt Warman, the minister for digital infrastructure, said the advice was intended to help councils “break down some of the barriers to rollout and give them the tools they need to quell quack theories about 5G”.
He added: “We want to help people get access to fast and reliable connectivity. It is a top priority for this government.”
Public Health England has said that 5G should have “no consequences to public health” and Ofcom has also been measuring the levels of electro-magnetic radiation emitted by masts around the country.
Philip Marnick, spectrum group director at Ofcom, said: “The UK has a great opportunity to be a world leader in 5G – making the most of the benefits this new technology offers people and businesses.
“So it’s important that public bodies work together to address some of the myths and misinformation around 5G, and that decisions are based on sound evidence.”
The government also called for more to be done to help find sites for masts and the installation of full fibre broadband.