Towering challenge

Friends of Bell Hill Reserve committee member Rhonda Walsh and local residents are opposed to a planned NBN tower in Bindoon. Picture: Bruce Hunt
Friends of Bell Hill Reserve committee member Rhonda Walsh and local residents are opposed to a planned NBN tower in Bindoon. Picture: Bruce Hunt

Bindoon Country Club Estate residents successfully fought to relocate a proposed Optus mobile phone tower seven years ago.

Now, the community is attempting to block a planned 40m NBN tower in the nature reserve.

Friends of Bell Hill Reserve, a preservation group of about 50 members, said the tower’s impact on the amenity of the surrounding area would be negative.

Resident and group spokeswoman Julie Duzevich said she recognised the need for better telecommunications infrastructure but not at the expense of local reserves and amenity.

‘The visual pollution created by the facility would dominate every aspect of visual awareness, 24 hours per day,’ she said.

Meanwhile, neighbouring property owner Rhonda Walsh said she would move if the tower went ahead because it would be just 40 metres from her windows.

Ms Walsh’s family were pioneers in the Bindoon area in the 19th century and named Bell Hill.

In 2003, both Ms Duzevich and Richard Frew were instrumental in forming a management plan with the Shire of Chittering for open space in the Bindoon Country Club Estate.

The Shire-endorsed plan recommends the two-hectare Bell Hill Reserve remain a total conservation area due to its fragile nature.

Residents said the NBN tower could be placed on any of the many hills and knolls in the area, including co-locating it with the Optus tower site.

But NBN Co’s community affairs manager for WA Peter Gurney disagreed.

He said other options were explored and Bell Hill Reserve was the only viable location.

‘Unfortunately, we were really limited in terms of topography as to where we can go in order to provide that guaranteed coverage to as much of the town as possible,’ he said.

‘If we could move to a site where there was less visual impact, we would, but unfortunately in that particular area it’s just not feasible for us to do that.’

He said a community information session last November, when about 50 people attended, showed the majority supported the tower.

Telstra has also written a letter in support of the NBN tower location because it would co-locate its infrastructure on the tower if it received funding from the Royalties for Regions-funded Regional Mobile Communications Project.

A council decision on the tower is expected at its April 15 meeting, following an extension of the public comment period until March 20 because some neighbouring property owners did not receive letters notifying them of the development application.

Council approval would be the final hurdle for NBN Co, which does not require Environmental Protection Authority approval for the facility.