Mundaring Shire approval of NBN towers angers residents

Rosie Zilioli and other concerned residents near the location of the NBN tower in Stoneville which was approved by councillors this week. Picture: David Baylis d465124
Rosie Zilioli and other concerned residents near the location of the NBN tower in Stoneville which was approved by councillors this week. Picture: David Baylis d465124

THERE were tears and jeers from the packed gallery after Shire of Mundaring councillors voted to approve two 40m NBN towers in Stoneville and Parkerville on Tuesday night.

Stoneville resident Rosie Zilioli said the Shire had “hung residents out to dry”.

“The fact our own president (Cr David Lavell) would vote in favour of filling our hills with towers is disgraceful. We were crying all the way home and are devastated,” she said.

“It is sickening our beautiful hills will be polluted with this quick, cheap fix the Government has adopted.”

Mrs Zilioli said neighbours were considering further options to stop the tower.

“The local and federal government have our vote of no confidence in protecting the health and wellbeing of its citizens,” she said.

“Cr Lavell has set a precedent that could have our hills covered with towers and swamped with electromagnetic energy (EME) pollution for years to come.

“We will not be sitting down and will look at exercising our right to take this matter to SAT.”

Cr Lavell played down community concerns over the health impacts of EME emitted from telecommunications towers.

“Well, I’m not a scientist but I’m led to believe it is OK,” he said.

But Mrs Zilioli said the health impacts were potentially significant and likened it to the asbestos scandal.

“In the 1940s Australia became one of the world’s largest producers of asbestos,” she said.

“By 1948 it was known as the greatest health risk to the Australian population.

“Australian health authorities knew of the dangers, yet did not ban this deadly mineral until 2003.

“We can see this all happening again with electromagnetic radiation.”

She said countries that had been using this technology for a long time had medical evidence that EME and Wi-Fi was creating real disease in their citizens.

However in their report to the council, shire officers said after reviewing contemporary advice from relevant authorities, the risk of adverse health concerns was assessed as minor.

NBN corporate affairs manager Ebony Aitken said NBN towers complied with strict safety standards set by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency.

“Typically NBN fixed wireless communications facilities operate at radio signal strengths hundreds or thousands of times below the safety limit,” she said.

“To put the signal strength into perspective, the general public exposure to radio signals from our fixed wireless network facilities is about one-tenth the power of a taxi’s two-way radio.”

The NBN tower applications are part of a national rollout to provide internet coverage in the region.

There are more applications to build NBN towers in Chidlow, Wooroloo and Sawyers Valley.

Ms Aitken said NBN towers were the best technology to serve premises in these areas.

“We consider a number of factors when designing the network for particular areas. These include optimal network design, population density, geography and requirement to meet minimal speed requirements, as well as rolling out the NBN efficiently and effectively,” she said.

“As a general rule, for rural and remote, or town outskirts areas, where the relatively low density of premises means the cost per premise would be excessive to roll out fixed- line services, we utilise fixed wireless or our Sky Muster satellite in order to provide service.”

During debate, Cr Doug Jeans said approving the towers sent the wrong message.

“These towers are a cheaper way to deliver NBN to small populations. By approving this we are sending a message to the NBN that they can put a tower anywhere,” he said.

“We need to tell our federal members we are not happy. We’ve waited a long time for the NBN and we should wait a bit longer to get a superior service.”

Cr Trish Cook agreed councillors should reject NBN towers in the Shire.

“We need to send a message and tell NBN Co it is not good enough that while other suburbs are getting fibre to the node technology, residents in eastern suburbs are getting a second-rate fixed wireless technology,” she said.

The council voted 9-2 to reject a proposed Optus tower in Maslin Crescent, Darlington, on the grounds it was a large-scale installation and a prohibited use in the area.

An Optus representative said the telco would look at appealing the decision.

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