50-metre tower sparks residents' fears
RESIDENTS have been left feeling frustrated and concerned, as Telstra moves to install a 50-metre-high mobile tower on the corner of Kyogle Road and Lillian Rock Road.
It comes as part of the 577 base stations Telstra are set to build across Australia under the Federal Government's Mobile Black Sport Program.
However, locals are concerned about the visual impact of the tower, the devaluation it could potentially bring to their properties and health risks associated with the tower's emissions.
Mark Hill lives 120 metres from the proposed tower site and said he has received commentary from local real estate agents suggesting their property value will take a significant hit.
"Anecdotal references from real estate agents hint that you might have to drop your price from 15 to 50 per cent if you are after a quick sale to get out of the area," Mr Hill said.
Mr Hill was also concerned about the impact on the health of residents living in such close proximity to the tower.
"We've been given all sorts of assurances from Telstra and their agents that their emissions levels for these towers are way under the Australian standard," Mr Hill said.
"That may or may not be true however there is a lot of scientific evidence that has been emerging over the past decade that is showing definite signs there are things that need to be looked at with this technology."
Telstra Area General Manager Michael Marom assured residents that all Telstra mobile base stations are designed to comply with the relevant Australian safety standards.
"Telstra has prepared an EME (electromagnetic energy) report which predicts the maximum environmental EME level the proposed facility will emit," Mr Marom said.
"The maximum environmental EME level predicted from the proposed facility is 0.19 per cent of the allowable public exposure limit."
Mr Hill said while he doesn't think it would be possible to roll back this new technology, he would feel safer if it was located at a greater distance from private properties and local schools.
"The rate of the fall off of the signal strength from these towers just means every time you take it 100 metres away from a residence, you half or quarter the amount of exposure," he said.
Mr Marom said Telstra also considers the visual impact of their facilities within a local setting.
"The trees in the immediate vicinity of this site are between 20 to 30 metres tall and so are expected to screen the low sections of any structure," Mr Marom said.
Residents took all these major concerns to the Kyogle Council meeting on Monday in an attempt to receive some aid from council moving forward.
However, General Manager Graham Kennett said State and Federal legislation enables the project to move ahead without council assessment or approval.
"There is Federal Telecommunications Act that gives exemptions and classifies telecommunications developments into certain categories, high impact and low impact."
"The State Government have additional provisions, in the Environmental Planning Policy.
"The council staff have confirmed that the proposal at Lillian Rock meets the requirements of the complying development under the State Government's planning policy."
The council resolved to make sure any concerns brought to their attention would be communicated to the State and Federal Governments and Telstra.
Page MP Kevin Hogan has also written to Joseph Mills from Service Stream requesting to have the community consultation period extended for an additional four weeks.
Telstra was set to conduct a formal consultation period later this month.