Coverage issue bad in Gooseberry Hill

Stock image.
Stock image.

NEW Shire of Kalamunda councillor Tracy Destree has angered constituents in Gooseberry Hill, the council ward she recently won with 58.31 per cent of the vote.

Cr Destree moved a successful motion at council on Monday, asking Kalamunda Shire chief executive Rhonda Hardy to meet with mobile phone network providers to address service coverage in the area.

Cr Destree said she wanted to ensure there was improved access in high risk fire zones and to deliver NBN commitments.

But Gooseberry Hill resident Emma Kallarn said Gooseberry Hill Primary School parents, children and staff had mounted a campaign four years ago to prevent a mobile phone tower being installed in the vicinity of the school because it could potentially be damaging to childrens’ health.

“It is known that many parts of the Shire that do not have mobile service are in critical and high risk fire zones,” Cr Destree said in her motion.

“The recent tragic events near Esperance only highlight the potential consequences.

“As a council we should be providing leadership and ensuring the Shire is protected.

“The provision of an adequate mobile service in critical and high risk zones need to be addressed, and without further delay.”

But Ms Kallaran warned councillors to “proceed with caution” in community sensitive areas “because due diligence is needed to manage” mobile phone towers.

In 2011, Ms Kallarn asked the council to reject the application for a phone tower proposed for Gooseberry Hill, 170m away from the primary school.

Council subsequently rejected the application.

At the time the Department of Education agreed the proposed mobile phone tower would be located too close to the school.

Cr Geoff Stallard said he was very concerned Cr Destree’s motion ignored the considerable concern in the community over the proximity of phone towers and where to locate them because of the possible environmental exposures.

“I would rather you put it on my roof, because I am older, than near any school students who may suffer with health issues in the future,” Cr Stallard said.

“I’m all for improving the mobile service and the coverage in the area but not at the risk of people’s health.

“I believe we need to seek advice from qualified engineers on (electromagnetic radiation) exposure before acting on this proposal.”