NOT IN OUR BACKYARD: Dr David Richards, of Iluka, with wife Janelle, baby Phoenix and eight-year-old Jarrod. Mr and Mrs Richards successfully protested against plans for an Optus mobile phone tower in Henry Searle Drive.
NOT IN OUR BACKYARD: Dr David Richards, of Iluka, with wife Janelle, baby Phoenix and eight-year-old Jarrod. Mr and Mrs Richards successfully protested against plans for an Optus mobile phone tower in Henry Searle Drive. Grafton Daily Examiner

Life's good after towering threat

ONE of the reasons Doctor David Richards fought so hard to prevent a mobile phone tower being built near his home came into his life the very day the tower was rejected.

Baby Phoenix Richards was born on April 21, the same day Clarence Valley Council said 'no' to Optus' request to build a mobile phone tower in Henry Searle Drive, Iluka.

Dr Richards - Iluka's only doctor - was at the forefront of a public fight to prevent the tower being built near a residential area of Iluka.

He said his fight was motivated by love for his family and the Iluka community, and growing research which showed radiation emitted from phone towers could be potentially deadly.

“It was a huge issue for me personally and the community,” Dr Richards said.

“The decision (to reject the tower) is a step in the right direction. It shows the council is supportive.

“I'm still a bit cautious about it, though. Until I see a DA for another site I won't have totally relaxed.

“We've got a block of land, we've got a builder and plans for a house but we're not signing any contract until we see a DA that's (safely away from residents).”

Dr Richards said he hoped councillors would again take a precautionary approach when the next phone tower development application was submitted for Iluka.

He had nothing against Optus or phone towers in general, but said the towers needed to be placed away from people.

“Information I've received shows that a safe distance is at least one kilometre away from people,” he said.

“We're still learning about the potential dangers of these things, so the further the better.”

Dr Richards' wife Janelle said she spent her whole pregnancy worried about the outcome.

“I was quite concerned for the kids, not just mine, but others as well because it's our responsibility to make sure they're healthy,” she said.

“When I heard the tower had been rejected I felt so overwhelmed and happy for our kids. If the tower had have been allowed we would have literally uplifted our family and moved on, even though we didn't want to go,” she said.



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