Tower given green light

October 04, 2017

A 50m-high Optus telecommunications tower has been approved on land near Ardmona, despite objections from residents.

Greater Shepparton City Council has given the green light to a 50m-high telecommunications tower near Ardmona, causing some residents frustration.

Councillors voted in favour of a planning permit for an Optus telecommunications facility on Minchin Rd, Mooroopna north west, with a raft of conditions attached.

They stressed such towers were always contentious wherever placed, but constituted ‘‘a necessary evil’’.

Moving the motion to grant the permit, Cr Fern Summer said telecommunications towers were ‘‘not popular for a variety of reasons’’, but that this was a proposal the council ‘‘can’t knock back’’.

Especially, amid efforts to lobby for improved telecommunications infrastructure, she said.

Cr Dennis Patterson echoed that posting a ‘‘protest vote’’ against what would amount to costing ratepayers in potential legal fees.

Cr Patterson sympathised with objecting residents, adding such issues were not matters local councils should have to deal with.

Only Cr Bruce Giovanetti spoke against the proposal at the September council meeting, expressing concern about the health impacts of the tower.

Other councillors dismissed the concerns, arguing there was no proof to suggest any risk.

‘‘I can understand people being concerned,’’ Cr Summer said.

‘‘But there’s really no proof to say there’s any harm from telecommunication towers at all,’’ she said.

Residents remained concerned about visual impact, environmental impact, unknown potential health impacts and argued a more appropriate, less obstructive site was further along the road.

‘‘The main concern is the closeness to the houses,’’ Jack Carling said after the meeting.

Other residents argued nobody wanted the tower at their front door and suggested moving the site up the road would be a logical outcome.

‘‘Telecommunications towers are contentious, they will always generate anger and anxiety in the community, wherever placed,’’ Cr Chris Hazelman said.

He said the sole role of council was to ‘‘administer the planning and environment act’’, adding ‘‘all those pathways lead to giving this the tick of approval’’.

Cr Seema Abdullah was satisfied the council was meeting its obligations in approving the application.

Mayor Dinny Adem voted against approving the tower, but when asked about his reasons, would only speak to the official council resolution to approve the tower.

Five of the seven councillors present supported the proposal, which attracted 21 objections.

The applicant had agreed to a 10m reduction in height of the tower to 50m as a result of the objections, background to the meeting read.

A report read the ‘‘most significant concern’’ remained the visibility of the tower, that the tower would be visible within a rural environment, but that it would be sited within an existing stand of established trees, ‘‘minimising the visual impacts on nearby residential properties’’.

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