NBN towers a 'national embarrassment' says North Coast mayor

NBN truck. 

Photo: Trevor Veale / The Coffs Coast Advocate
NBN truck. Photo: Trevor Veale / The Coffs Coast Advocate Trevor Veale

BYRON Shire mayor Simon Richardson says the fixed wireless towers used by the NBN on the Northern Rivers are a "national embarrass- ment”.

The comments follow Byron Shire Council's threat to slap an injunction on a controversial NBN tower after a campaign by residents angry over a lack of consultation.

NBN Co says the 49.5m tower at 308 Coorabell Rd is expected to be online in mid-2017 and and will deliver high speed broadband to about 190 homes in the area.

But a group of nearby locals feel they were not properly consulted.

The mayor said the council had voted unanimously to request the NBN stop work on the tower until it explained in detail how it had fulfilled its obligations to neighbours.

If not, the council would put an injunction on the tower in the Land and Environment Court.

"We just want to double check through NBN that they have met all their requirements to the letter,” Cr Richardson said.

"They have either done it and they can prove it, or they haven't done it.

"If they have (met their requirements), then the process continues, if they haven't we want to ensure it's done properly.

"At the very least local residents should be satisfied that NBN or Telstra have not just looked for the cheapest option but actually tried to minimise the impact on neighbours, had a thorough consultation, (and) explained why it has to be there and not elsewhere.

"My understanding is not one of the residents have had that conversation with NBN Co.

"The adjoining neighbours felt they were completely out of the loop.”

In a response to questions, NBN Co said it had sent letters sent to 208 properties located within a 2km radius of the proposed facility, put a public notice in the Byron Shire News on August 18, half-page ads in the Byron Shire News and the Byron Echo, and held a community information session.

It said that of the feedback forms received at the September 8 information session, five were supportive of the facility and six were opposed.

"In total NBN received 10 submissions - seven objections and three in support,” an NBN Co spokeswoman said.

In terms of health implications, NBN Co said the World Health Organisation and Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency had identified "no established adverse health effects” from the fixed wireless technology used by the NBN.

"The towers emit less radio energy than a taxi's two-way radio,” the spokeswoman said.

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