TOWERING MENACE: John and Pearl Ryan look from the balcony of their Harwood Island home to where an Optus tower is proposed to be built next door.
TOWERING MENACE: John and Pearl Ryan look from the balcony of their Harwood Island home to where an Optus tower is proposed to be built next door. Adam Hourigan

HITS HOME: Tower plans signal concerns

HARWOOD Island residents who have links to the region going back to the mid-1800s have been devastated to learn Optus plans to build a mobile phone tower next door to their homes.

A spokeswoman for the Ryan family, Pearl Ryan, said the proposal to erect the tower at 88 Careys Lane was distressing to members of her family.

The plans distributed by Optus's planners, Catalyst O.N.E. Pty Ltd, during the public consultation period show the tower to be less than 100m from Mrs Ryan's home.

"In fact it's located amongst a cluster of homes," she said.

"It is also close to areas zoned E2 for Environmental Conservation, containing tidal wetlands and a valuable eco-system with migratory birds.

 

The location of the proposed Optus tower near houses in Careys Lane, Harwood.
The location of the proposed Optus tower near houses in Careys Lane, Harwood. Tim Howard

"This tower could damage our families' health and the fragile ecosystem, one of the last remnants of native vegetation on Harwood Island."

Mrs Ryan's husband, John, wondered why the tower had to be built near the houses, when there are hundreds of hectares of flat land on the island with no dwellings nearby.

"Australia is 5000km wide, why does the phone tower have go just here?" he said.

Mrs Ryan said the consultation process had also been botched.

"The consultation process has not complied with the Communications Alliance Ltd Industry Code C564_2018-181206 as required by the ACMA," she said.

"Some of my neighbours only found out a few days back when I rang them.

"Along with several others near the proposed tower, I never received an official notification."

Mrs Ryan said the website Optus nominated to find out about the proposal opened to a blank page and the proposed location was wrongly identified.

The Ryan family has demanded the proponents call a public meeting to discuss the issues affecting them.

Mrs Ryan said there was now time to do this as the closing date for public consultation had been moved back from Friday.

She said discussions needed to look at more suitable locations for the tower away from residences and away from sensitive environmental areas.

Mrs Ryan has urged other residents to contact Andrew Johnson, the consultant planner with Catalyst One at consultation@catalystone.com.au.

The Ryan family's plight has received support from a leading Clarence Valley conservationist.

The secretary of the Clarence Environment Centre, John Edwards, said the proposed mobile phone tower posed a threat to native habitat vegetation and the health of nearby residents.

Mr Edwards said there appeared to be a loophole in legislation which banned mobile towers within 100m of residences.

"Incredibly though, such buffer protection is not provided to rural residents, where these towers can legally be erected almost on top of their homes," he said.

The owner of the land, Roz Ryan, said she did not want to comment on the proposal.

Optus were also contacted for comment but did not reply by deadline.



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