Residents vow to block Optus tower

A GROUP of Wooleweyah residents have vowed to block any prospect of an Optus tower being built in their community.

While no development application has been lodged with the Clarence Valley Council yet, Optus has confirmed they are assessing the feasibility of a number of sites in the vicinity of Angourie and Wooloweyah in an effort to improve the mobile network's local service.

The only Optus site currently servicing the district is located on the water reservoirs at Clarence St, Yamba, and one of the proposed sites for a new 30m high-impact tower is located at the rear of the sporting fields at Honeyman Park in Wooleyah.

It is this site that will be staunchly defended by community, says Woolweyahans Opposed (to Optus) Tower member Carolyn Eddy.

"Within 100m or so is a children's skate slab, bus stop, basketball hoops, within 120m is the hall, and there are houses just under 150m away," she said.

"We just don't want it aesthetically and don't want it in our park facilities."

Fellow resident Gillian Lowbridge said its instalment would also use up active play space and could affect games.

"It's extraordinary to us that they would use a usable active space, when other towers are in the middle of the bush or car parks, areas that are not significant to the community," she said.

Last night, community members met at the Wooleweyah Hall to develop a steering committee who will voice the community's concerns.

More than 100 people are expected to attend, and Ms Eddy said she hoped the proactive stance on the matter would deter the company from placing a DA with the council at all.

"I'm hoping in six-eight weeks this is all going to be a bad dream," she said.

"It is a black spot, but (I don't think it will be) a shared tower which means it will only improve signal for Optus customers, of which there are few because mobile coverage is so poor. And the trouble is living in the shadow of it doesn't necessarily give you better reception."

An Optus spokesman said the telecommunications entity committed to consulting with the community when examining sites for new mobile infrastructure.

It is understood other options include a site adjacent to a water reservoir on the western side of Angourie Rd and a number of potential sites in the former dump/quarry, east of Angourie Rd.

"In assessing locations for new mobile sites, Optus uses customer feedback and our own analysis to identify the best locations for improved voice and data services for local mobile customers," the spokesman said.

"We will continue to work with key stakeholders, including local council, on exploring ways we can improve coverage for customers across the Clarence Valley."

Clarence Valley Council environment, planning and community director, Des Schroder, said council was aware Optus was considering a number of sites in the valley for telecommunications towers, including sites in Wooloweyah.   He said, however, council had not received any development applications.   "Until we do there's nothing for council to consider," he said.  

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