Tower plan gets poor reception

The recently installed Optus phone tower at 12 Mead Street in Kalamunda.  Picture: David Baylis        www.communitypix.com.au   d447866
The recently installed Optus phone tower at 12 Mead Street in Kalamunda. Picture: David Baylis        www.communitypix.com.au d447866

Emma Kallarn said she was concerned Optus would re-apply to build a tower at the same site near Gooseberry Hill Primary School, even though a similar proposal was rejected in the 2011.

Despite recently constructing a tower at 12 Mead Street in Kalamunda, the telecommunications provider could re-apply to build a second tower near the Gooseberry Hill Primary School.

A development application for a phone tower at Ledger Road in Gooseberry Hill was rejected by the council in 2011.

Shire of Kalamunda has sought community input into the future locations of mobile phone towers within the shire, while the council recently discussed the need to improve mobile coverage in the Hills, particularly given the risk of bushfires.

The Federal Government has a Mobile Black Spot program to support increasing coverage, and Shire President Andrew Waddell said the Shire would lodge a submission based on community input to receive funding.

Cr Waddell said nominating black spots would raise awareness of the need for further coverage within Kalamunda’s boundaries.

“We have indicated we are seeking community members to nominate the sites that they were aware of before January 15,” he said.

At the Shire’s November 23 council meeting a motion was passed to seek meetings with mobile network providers to address local service coverage.

The motion, moved by Cr Tracy Destree and seconded by Cr Waddell, angered some constituents in the public gallery.

Cr Destree said she wanted to ensure there was improved access in high-risk bushfire areas, and to deliver NBN commitments.

Cr Geoff Stallard was the only councillor to vote against the motion.

Ms Kallarn said she believed Cr Waddell had directed the council on how they should vote at the meeting by expressing personal views about the safety of electro magnetic radiation.

She said his views were “incorrect and misinformed”.

In a letter addressed to representatives of the No To Tower group, consultancy group Planning Solutions business services manager Laurie Chantry said proposed telecommunications infrastructure would enable two carriers – Optus and Vodafone – to be situated on the tower mast, with provision for one another carrier – likely Telstra – at a later date.

A spokesman for Optus said the expansion of its network would serve their customers and provide important infrastructure to emergency services in natural disaster areas.

“We have commenced consultation with the local school, (the school’s) P&C and engaged with local councillors regarding a proposed tower for Gooseberry Hill,” he said.

The Gazette understands Optus will lodge an application for the tower in early February.