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Opposition towards 10-storey structure continues

Tuesday, 30th December, 2014

By Darrin Manuel

North residents have stepped up their opposition to a having a mobile phone tower in their neighbourhood with an open letter to all councillors and media.

The proposed site for the tower is the North Family Play Centre, a location which has raised serious concerns from those living nearby.

They are worried about the health impacts of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) on residents, school children, and anyone regularly using the park or Regional Aquatic Centre.

Many also believe the tower will simply be an eyesore in a part of the city that is often showcased to tourists.

“We would like to confirm that within a three-week call for submissions by BHCC, that there were over 120 petition signatures and over 150 letters addressed to Council,” the letter states.

“This alone should highlight that citizens are concerned, and that people want Council to reconsider the application in the interest of the public and request that Telstra, and the contractor, further investigate alternative sites that would be conducive to a healthier and less obtrusive site.

“It goes against the beautification and healthy lifestyle that BHCC is promoting and encouraging its citizens to actively make.” 

It seems residents’ concerns are shared by the NSW Department of Education and Communities (NSWDEC), with Asset Management Unit manager Richard Connolly recently writing to council to suggest a cautious approach to the project, as the tower would be within 500 metres of Willyama High School.

In addition to NSWDEC’s backing, the group appears to have solid claims under Clause 27 of the Telecommunications Act 1997, which states that the Australian Communications and Media Authority must not issue a facility installation permit near residential areas, schools, playgrounds or regional icons unless it is satisfied that:

Where possible, the community has agreed to the facility, alternative less sensitive sites have been considered, and efforts have been made to minimise electromagnetic radiation exposure to the public.

The letter also asks a variety of questions of Council, including who will be liable for damages if locals suffer health problems.

“Should it be proven that EMR contributes to health problems, will BHCC bear the cost of litigation?

“Until scientific studies prove that 3G EMR is safe, mobile phone towers should be kept away from community-sensitive locations, such as the Willyama High School, North Family Play Centre and Regional Aquatic Centre and the 280 plus households. 

“We would encourage the BHCC to be wise and to err on the side of caution.”

The group has asked for a meeting with the independent assessor that Council intends to use to oversee the development application, and a copy of the assessor’s report before the matter is discussed at Council’s monthly meeting.

Telstra has previously stated that findings by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency showed no substantiated scientific evidence that radio frequency technologies that operate within national and international safety standards affect people’s health.

Council stopped accepting public submissions on the project on December 17.

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