Resident's pleas over Telstra tower
HOW would you feel if a 10-storey tower was placed within metres of your home?
In the small community of Nymboida, Brenden Stockdale is about to have a new neighbour - a 10-storey tall telecommunications tower only 8m from the boundary of his property.
In the early 2000s, Nymboida Shire Council rezoned the village to protect the Nymboida River - as the Clarence Valley's major water source - from being impacted by overpopulation.
The council changed the zoning from what is known as RU5 (village) to RU2 (large acreage properties) to minimise the impact of more houses on the river.
However, in the small rural village of Nymboida, the properties do not fit into the definition of RU2 zoning.
Mr Stockdale's property, which is the old Nymboida Post Office, is smaller than an acre, and so is the proposed site for the tower.
Telstra's guidelines prevent it from building the tower in an RU5-zoned area because of property sizes and proximity, but they do not prevent it from building it in an RU2-zoned area.
Mr Stockdale said the zoning was changed to limit the number of additional dwellings in the village.
"It's got to do with the catchment, they don't want more houses in Nymboida because it means more septic tanks, more things like that,” he said.
"The irony is, because they did that, there is now going to be a big tower put in the middle of the village.”
Mr Stockdale didn't find out about the tower until three days before a public meeting in Nymboida, when Telstra said it had already decided on the location.
A number of community members said at the meeting they were willing to have the tower on their property instead, but MrStockdale said Telstra was not interested.
"We don't know the technical issues but they've actually looked at one other site in a property above the village and the owner said no,” he said.
"But they haven't engaged the community. The bottom line is, a tower like this shouldn't be built in a place like this. It should be built at least 100m away from a rural village.”
Mr Stockdale did acknowledge a mobile tower was needed in Nymboida as there was little reception in the area, which could be a problem in emergency situations.
"To a certain degree, it's up to Telstra to find a site,” he said.
"There are alternatives there. Telstra needs to start consulting with the community or council to find the correct site.
"They are just coming in under the telecommunications act and just railroading everybody.”
Telstra is building 577 new mobile phone base stations under round one and two of the Mobile Black Spot Program.
Telstra area general manager Mike Marom said a number of factors influenced the location of a base station, including site acquisition, technical feasibility, federal, state and council approvals, existing infrastructure and the Mobile Black Spot Program guidelines set by the Federal Government.
"Telstra investigated a number of locations in Nymboida, however these sites did not meet the budget, power and fibre constraints of the program,” he said.
"We believe the most appropriate location for the base station is at the existing Telstra property, which allows us to meet the coverage requirements under the Mobile Black Spot Program.”