Tower site divisive

A mobile phone tower on the old Mead Medical Building.
A mobile phone tower on the old Mead Medical Building.

Cr Destree moved a successful motion in November which effectively left the Shire without a current phone tower policy.

She sought permission for council chief executive Rhonda Hardy to meet with mobile phone tower providers and address a lack of service coverage in the area.

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

“Many parts of the Shire that don’t have mobile service are in critical and high risk fire zones,” Cr Destree said.

Cr Destree said she wanted to allow Telstra, Optus and Vodaphone to outline their expansion plans in the shire.

Pickering Brook resident Regina Ekhart-Chung said she was concerned a development application for an NBN tower was lodged for a location 70m from her home at 65 McCorkill Road in Pickering Brook.

“I am very concerned about this being built on my front doorstep,” she said.

“It’s a 50m tower and there is an application for a fixed wireless tower from the NBN contractors.”

Gooseberry Hill resident Emma Kallarn said the Gooseberry Hill Primary School community was concerned an Optus tower would be potentially injurious to children’s health and that of the native fauna and flora nearby.

“If the Shire could implement a policy that phone towers do not belong in sensitive locations we would be grateful as due diligence is needed to manage EMR emissions,” Ms Kallarn said.

In 2011 the council rejected an application for a phone tower proposed for Gooseberry Hill, 170m away from the primary school. The WA Department of Education agreed the proposed tower was too close to the school.

Federal Government NBN regulations have since changed phone tower laws.

Kalamunda development services director Warwick Carter said this meant the council would not be the decision maker on the issue.

“Effectively the new law means we can’t say no, even if we want to, it is the government who considers them.”

Optus has since confirmed the location for the tower is at Lot 622 Ledger Road, Gooseberry Hill.

Ms Kallarn, who represented the No To Tower group said the communications code sought an agreement from the phone providers they would communicate with the residents and other parties in a consultative manner, as required by law.

Ms Kallarn said since the federal legislative changes the No To Tower community was aware the Shire carried very little weight in a tower development approval process.

But she was determined to proceed with a formal complaint to AMCA and pursue comment from the Communications Alliance Working Committee on how carriers continue to manipulate codes intended to supplement community consultation and transparency.

Council was split 6-5 on the vote to invite all the carriers to address council in lieu of Optus doing so separately over the Gooseberry Hill site.

Cr Simon Di Rosso said he was concerned the motion mentioned all the carriers, which diluted the issue for the Optus tower.