Traditional owners and residents clash over tower land

VOW TO FIGHT: Members of the Dorrobbee Grass Resreve Trust and the Ngulingah Aboriginal Land Council raise a flag to protest the construction of a mobile phone tower just outside Dunoon.
VOW TO FIGHT: Members of the Dorrobbee Grass Resreve Trust and the Ngulingah Aboriginal Land Council raise a flag to protest the construction of a mobile phone tower just outside Dunoon. Ross Kendall

TRADITIONAL owners and Dunoon residents have vowed to fight construction of a Telstra tower near the village, as work crews started on the project this week.

The site of the tower is on a small house-sized block owned by Lismore City Council.

But it is surrounded by 30 acres of Aboriginal and community land managed by the Ngulingah Local Aboriginal Land Council and the Dorrobbee Grass Reserve Trust.

NLALC chief executive Mick Smith said the area had always been a cultural focal point for Aboriginal people.

"The consultation process has been abominable," he said.

"Council and NBN have outsourced all community consultation to Telstra."

The groups found 10 alternative sites with less cultural and community value, but these were all rejected by Telstra, Mr Smith said.

"They chose the only site we didn't want," he said.

Telstra area general manager, Mike Marom, said engineers assessed the alternative sites, but they did not meet the mobile coverage objectives for a new base station within the Dunoon area.

"Community consultation is an important component of any Telstra development proposal and this has again been the case with the development of a new base station within the Dunoon area," he said.

"Telstra had undertaken a range of investigative and consultative activities throughout this process, including notifications to surrounding landowners, working with the local council, contacting relevant stakeholders and communication through local media."

On Monday, the day the tower was delivered to the site in a number of sections, the NLALC and Dorrobbee Grass Reserve Trust conducted a ceremonial flag raising.

"We are standing together and speaking for the future - this is cultural land, not for a tower," Mr Smith said.

"Firestick farming is still carried out on this traditional grassland site.

"We have cultural interpretive signage here.

"We want the land to be used for cultural and environmental education."



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