ANGER: Ellie Ryan and her daughter Lydia will live just 70m from the planned 30m high tower at 1555 Nimbin Rd, Koonorigan.
ANGER: Ellie Ryan and her daughter Lydia will live just 70m from the planned 30m high tower at 1555 Nimbin Rd, Koonorigan. Hamish Broome

Telstra tower will give crappy reception: Resident

A KOONORIGAN woman fighting plans by Telstra to build a mobile phone tower just 70m from her home says Telstra's own contractor told her the site was unsuitable and would only be put there to save the company money.

The mobile phone tower at 1555 Nimbin Road, Koonorigan is being funded under the Federal Government's Mobile Black Spot Program to alleviate poor mobile reception in regional areas.

Telstra has said the Koonorigan tower will combine with two others at Coffee Camp and The Channon to provide better mobile service for residents along Nimbin Rd and the Koonorigan ridge.

"We recently held a public information evening in the area and received very positive feedback about the benefits the new coverage will deliver," Telstra area manager Mike Marom said.

But local resident Ellie Ryan, who said she was supported by up to 50 neighbours, said the site was badly ill-considered.

She counted up the number of Koonorigan homes in line of sight of the tower: 12.

She has accused Telstra of lying to her at a community consultation about the tower, because they told her the tower was within 200m of the government's specific black spot coordinates.

"They said the government had predetermined the spot where it had to go, (but) I've since found that is actually incorrect," she said.

"I rang the mobile black spot program, and they told me that the real coordinates were on top of the hill at Koonorigan.

She said a site engineer from Service Stream, Telstra's contractor, told her last Thursday that Nimbin Rd was "not a viable site" but it was going in regardless.

Ms Ryan said the planned site was at the bottom of the valley, in the "lowest possible" position.

"It will not provide the majority of Koonorigan residents with phone reception because they are on the other side of the ridge.

"I have spoken to at least five land owners who are willing to have the tower on their land. It would be in a higher position on the hill and away from anybody's house.

But Ms Ryan said Telstra had not even considered those sites because they didn't want to pay landowners to lease land.

The planned Nimbin Rd site is atop a Telstra telephone exchange - so the company already owns the land, making it cheaper for them.

She along with at least 50 other local residents have filed submissions against the tower.

Lismore City Council have also opposed the tower, even though they have no power to stop it under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007.

The council, in its submission against the plan, said the tower would have a "negative visual experience" for the high volume of rural road users, including international tourists, that use Nimbin Rd on a daily basis.

Ms Ryan said Telstra's conduct had contravened the industry code for mobile base station deployment, because they had failed to adequately consult, and the tower was not "low impact".

She has two school aged children who spend much of their time playing in the backyard, which is just metres from the tower.

"It's going to totally devalue my property, I'm really concerned about my kids... and it's right out my backdoor."

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