Coun­cil de­fers phone tower

Augusta Margaret River Times - - News - War­ren Hately

Coun­cil­lors have de­ferred a con­tentious telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions tower for the first time in years amid an out­cry from af­fected neigh­bours and con­cern about the pro­lif­er­a­tion of tow­ers in the re­gion.

Tel­stra rep­re­sen­ta­tives at­tended last week’s Shire of Au­gusta-Mar­garet River meet­ing only to have the tower de­ci­sion held back an­other fort­night as coun­cil­lors sought more in­for­ma­tion.

Af­ter a site visit ear­lier in the day, res­i­dents told the meet­ing the pro­posed 70m mono­pole on Latch Road in Deep­dene would blight the vis­ual land­scape, be close to homes and af­fect re­sale value of ru­ral prop­er­ties in the area.

Sev­eral coun­cil­lors noted neigh­bours al­ways ob­jected to phone tow­ers but ev­ery­one wanted work­ing phones and in­ter­net.

“I don’t think we’ve ac­tu­ally re­fused a telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions tower in the time I’ve been (on coun­cil),” Cr Mike Smart said.

“There’s al­ways some­one op­posed to it.”

How­ever, ques­tions raised dur­ing de­bate — and af­ter dep­u­ta­tions from neigh­bours Robyn Den­nis and Caro­line Maxwell — re­sulted in other coun­cil­lors speak­ing against the item un­til Cr Naomi God­den pro­posed a de­fer­ral.

Neigh­bours said there were a lot of other sites orig­i­nally iden­ti­fied for the tower and yet some other landown­ers had no record of con­tact from Tel­stra.

Ear­lier in the meet­ing, Tel­stra rep­re­sen­ta­tive John Moore warned time lines as­so­ci­ated with Fed­eral Govern­ment black spot fund­ing for Na­tional Broad­band Net­work tow­ers meant an ur­gent de­ci­sion was re­quired.

“If we do not get plan­ning ap­proval for this site this evening, we will not be pro­ceed­ing with any site in this re­gion,” he said.

Coun­cil­lors also quizzed act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive Dale Put­land about the op­tions for de­lay­ing the de­ci­sion, de­spite statu­tory time frames that meant de­fer­ral could trig­ger a Tel­stra ap­peal to the State Ad­min­is­tra­tive Tri­bunal.

Cr God­den told col­leagues she wanted the “ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion that led to this site be­ing se­lected”.

Deputy Shire pres­i­dent Ju­lia Mel­drum said she was “re­ally over­whelmed” by the beauty of the pro­posed tower site.

“I don’t feel we’ve been pro­vided a com­pletely ac­cu­rate re­port from the pro­po­nent,” she said.

Shire pres­i­dent Pam Town­shend said tow­ers were needed in Deep­dene to help emer­gency ser­vices. What do you think? Send your let­ters to ed­i­[email protected]­r­ by Wed­nes­day 12pm.

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