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31 May 2020

France: 5G: 500 environmental activists take legal action against Orange, Bouygues, SFR and Free

France: 5G: 500 environmental activists take legal action against Orange, Bouygues, SFR and Free
by Jamal Henni,  capital.fr/, 27 May 2020 - translation

CAPITAL INFO. Environmental activists request legal expertise on 5G. They have subpoenaed the four mobile operators, who will have to justify to an expert the measures they have taken to prevent any risk to health or the environment.

Environmentalists are continuing their legal battle against 5G, the mobile phone standard that is to succeed 4G and whose frequencies are due to be allocated this year. The latest action to date is a summary procedure before the Paris Court of Justice. Five hundred activists are asking the court to order an expert opinion on 5G. They filed their summons on 26 May, and request a first hearing on 30 June. Defended by the lawyer Jean-Marc Descoubes, the group is led by the founder of the Young Ambassadors for the Climate Côme Girschig, and includes a number of VIPs such as the film director Liza Azuelos, the writer Hermine de Clermont-Tonnerre and the singer Alma Higelin.

According to their subpoena, the expert will have to investigate "the implementation by mobile operators of effective measures on the prevention of risk to human health and the environment, and the establishment of the safety of this technology". In particular, he will have to visit the sites of the 5G experiments conducted by the four operators. The expert will also have to "give an opinion on the risk of encroachment on individual freedoms, and the technical means to be put in place to prevent, remedy and prevent the occurrence of these risks".

The main argument of the environmental activists is that the precautionary principle should be applied to 5G: "the precautionary principle should be applied when risks to health or the environment are not certain, but merely probable, or at least not excluded". Failing this, legal action may be taken against the four operators: "By their experimentation and applications, the operators are exposing the population to a future risk, which is currently not certain, but cannot be excluded. If this risk materializes, then the operators' civil liability may be engaged. Their fault will have consisted in having disregarded the precautionary principle."

The activists explain that the health and environmental effects of 5G are not known, as this new technology will use more antennas than existing mobile networks, but also higher frequency bands (3.5 and 26 gigahertz). They are mainly based on the pre-report issued at the end of 2019 by ANSES (National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety). This pre-report deplores the fact that "research data is still scarce" on these new frequencies. And from an environmental point of view, 5G will be more energy-consuming according to them. On the other hand, the subpoena does not mention the reassuring report about the dangers of 5G issued in April by the National Frequencies Agency .

Two other associations, Agir pour l'environnement and Priartem, have lodged appeals on the merits and in summary proceedings before the Council of State against the decrees launching the allocation of 5G frequencies. They consider that this allocation (and in particular the absence of a prior environmental study) violates several environmental protection provisions, starting with the precautionary principle. On 5 March, the High Court promised to render its verdict on the merits ''before the summer of 2020'', and therefore considered that there was no need to take summary measures.

Original article in French:

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