THE Shire of Mundaring has rejected an officer’s recommendation to approve a telecommunications tower in Darlington after a group of residents sought legal advice from high profile Perth lawyer John Hammond.
The Optus phone tower application was defeated on Tuesday night with the shire receiving a total of 49 submissions during the public comment period and 82 per cent of the submissions objecting to the proposal.
Echo News understands the shire also received a petition signed by more than 200 residents objecting to the mobile phone station citing health concerns as their main priority.
But a council spokeswoman said the council refused to grant planning approval for the proposed large scale commercial telecommunications Installation at No 11 (Lot 100) Maslin Crescent, Darlington on the grounds that “the installation would be entirely visible from most of Victor Road alongside the property; that Victor Rd is a significant thoroughfare; and a telecommunications installation – large scale commercial is an X use in the rural residential zone.”
The motion was carried 10-2.
Hammond Legal director John Hammond said the fight was far from over.
“If the shire wants to pursue this application it, or the applicant, will have to put its case to the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT), which would incur legal costs for the shire,” he said.
“The residents tell me medical data has been submitted to the shire about the adverse health impacts from mobile phone towers, which I believe the shire has had for some time.
“The shire has a duty of care not to cause any harm to its residents.”
The shire’s report to council stated some sections of the community were concerned regarding alleged public health risks associated with exposure to electromagnet energy (EME).
“The contemporary advice from relevant authorities’ states that health is not adversely affected by emissions from telecommunications infrastructure,” officers reported.
A Darlington resident, who did not want to be named, told Echo News although there was a very vocal group of residents against the tower going ahead, there was also a very strong, silent community who wanted to see the tower constructed.
“We all live in a vulnerable area and it is vital to have access to information about fire awareness and protection with improved and vital communications,” she said.
“Better communication would benefit and make a lot of people happy, particularly those trying to operate a business.
“Some people are using ‘storm trooper tactics’ and bullying people into signing petitions but progress is inevitable.”
Mundaring Shire officers recommended the proposal be approved by council subject to various state planning conditions and policies and potential with additional landscaping if required.
The report also argued the proposal would facilitate improved mobile phone coverage to the area and surrounds with improved access to digital data, which would support local business, emergency services and the community generally.
“As the proposal will generally not be visually obtrusive with the requirement for landscaping screening, and fulfils a strategic community desire for improved digital connectivity, it is recommended that council approves the application, subject to conditions.”
The proposed tower comprises a 35m monopole, various panel antennas and ancillary equipment, such as outdoor cabinets, fencing and cabling.
In the report to council, officers said the location reflected the intent of the shire’s local planning scheme and the state planning policy in that it was mostly well screened and setback from adjoining properties and the residential area to the north.
By Michelle Beaven