Telstra accused of 'deceit' over mobile phone tower
A KOONORIGAN resident up in arms against the proposed location of a 40m mobile phone tower has accused Telstra of "deceit".
Lismore City Council has also joined more than 50 residents of the area in opposing plans for the tower over visual amenity concerns.
Work on the tower at 1533 Nimbin Rd is set to begin in early 2017.
Funded under the Federal Government's blackspot program, its aim is to alleviate poor mobile phone reception.
Telstra says it believes there is "strong community support for this project".
Area general manager Mike Marom said: "Our overriding objective in participating in the Federal Government's Mobile Black Spot Program is to maximise new coverage to regions that have little to no mobile coverage.
"Once complete, the planned mobile base station will deliver 3G and 4G mobile coverage to a large part of Koonorigan for the first time, including some of Gordon Road. "
Another planned mobile base station at Coffee Camp will also provide coverage to the northern Koonorigan area and another mobile base station is also planned nearby at The Channon.
But opponent Ellie Ryan says the tower will not help the vast majority of Koonorigan residents' patchy reception.
She said most properties situated along the Koonorigan ridge marked by Gordon Rd and Koonorigan Rd are on its eastern side, while the tower is in a low lying valley to the west.
"The people at the top along Gordon Rd, and around the corner, I doubt it's going to give them coverage," she said.
"People couldn't believe they were even considering putting in that spot."
Ms Ryan also lives just 70m from the 40m high tower and said it had a major visual impact on her property.
She accused Telstra of telling fibs when she asked them about why the tower had to be there.
"They said it has to be there because it's within the coordinates of where the black spot program is," she said.
"They said it had to be within 100m or 200m of the area the government had given them."
"But it's nowhere near there.
"The only reason they want to put it there is because it's cheaper."
Ms Ryan has collected more than 50 signatures in a petition against the tower, and said a further 50 submissions had been lodged against it.
Lismore City Council's submission argued the siting of the tower contravened NSW Planning Department guidelines.
Under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007, telecommunication towers do not require development consent or approval from local governments.
"Lismore City Council is very concerned that the proposed 40m high tower facility is located at a visually prominent rural location on a bend in the road, and within 10m of the adjoining Nimbin Road," it said.
It said the siting would have a "negative visual experience" for the high volume of rural road users, including international tourists, that use this section of road on a daily basis.