Tower given green light

The Tatura Guardian - - News - By Thomas Moir

Greater Shep­par­ton City Coun­cil has given the green light to a 50 m-high telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions tower near Ard­mona, caus­ing some res­i­dents frus­tra­tion.

Coun­cil­lors voted in favour of a plan­ning per­mit for an Op­tus telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions fa­cil­ity on Minchin Rd, Mooroopna north west, with a raft of con­di­tions at­tached.

They stressed such tow­ers were al­ways con­tentious wher­ever placed, but con­sti­tuted ‘‘a nec­es­sary evil’’.

Mov­ing the mo­tion to grant the per­mit, Cr Fern Sum­mer said telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions tow­ers were ‘‘not pop­u­lar for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons’’, but that this was a pro­posal the coun­cil ‘‘can’t knock back’’.

Es­pe­cially, amid ef­forts to lobby for im­proved telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in­fra­struc­ture, she said.

Cr Den­nis Pat­ter­son echoed that post­ing a ‘‘protest vote’’ against what would amount to cost­ing ratepay­ers in po­ten­tial le­gal fees.

Cr Pat­ter­son sym­pa­thised with ob­ject­ing res­i­dents, adding such is­sues were not mat­ters lo­cal coun­cils should have to deal with.

Only Cr Bruce Gio­vanetti spoke against the pro­posal at the Septem­ber coun­cil meet­ing, ex­press­ing con­cern about the health im­pacts of the tower.

Other coun­cil­lors dis­missed the con­cerns, ar­gu­ing there was no proof to sug­gest any risk.

‘‘I can un­der­stand peo­ple be­ing con­cerned,’’ Cr Sum­mer said.

‘‘But there’s re­ally no proof to say there’s any harm from telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion tow­ers at all,’’ she said.

Res­i­dents re­mained con­cerned about vis­ual im­pact, en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact, un­known po­ten­tial health im­pacts and ar­gued a more ap­pro­pri­ate, less ob­struc­tive site was fur­ther along the road.

‘‘The main con­cern is the close­ness to the houses,’’ Jack Car­ling said af­ter the meet­ing.

Other res­i­dents ar­gued no­body wanted the tower at their front door and sug­gested mov­ing the site up the road would be a log­i­cal out­come.

‘‘Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions tow­ers are con­tentious, they will al­ways gen­er­ate anger and anx­i­ety in the com­mu­nity, wher­ever placed,’’ Cr Chris Hazel­man said.

He said the sole role of coun­cil was to ‘‘ad­min­is­ter the plan­ning and en­vi­ron­ment act’’, adding ‘‘all those path­ways lead to giv­ing this the tick of ap­proval’’.

Cr Seema Ab­dul­lah was sat­is­fied the coun­cil was meet­ing its obli­ga­tions in ap­prov­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion.

Mayor Dinny Adem voted against ap­prov­ing the tower, but when asked about his rea­sons, would only speak to the of­fi­cial coun­cil res­o­lu­tion to ap­prove the tower.

Five of the seven coun­cil­lors present sup­ported the pro­posal, which at­tracted 21 ob­jec­tions.

The ap­pli­cant had agreed to a 10 m re­duc­tion in height of the tower to 50 m as a re­sult of the ob­jec­tions, back­ground to the meet­ing read.

A re­port read the ‘‘most sig­nif­i­cant con­cern’’ re­mained the vis­i­bil­ity of the tower, that the tower would be vis­i­ble within a ru­ral en­vi­ron­ment, but that it would be sited within an ex­ist­ing stand of es­tab­lished trees, ‘‘min­imis­ing the vis­ual im­pacts on nearby res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties’’.

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