Too close to homes

OPPOSED: Shane Darcy says Telstra should find another site for its cellphone tower.
OPPOSED: Shane Darcy says Telstra should find another site for its cellphone tower.

CALL it the return of the 30-foot pole.

Corlette residents are outraged after a development application for a $450,000 telecommunications tower at the end of Fame Avenue was lodged by Telstra last month.

The company says the monopole is essential to address strain on the existing mobile service, and that no other appropriate sites exist.

But on Sunday about 20 residents attended a public meeting to voice their opposition to the plan, with concerns ranging from impacts on property value, negative visual effect, and fears about health impacts from electromagnetic radiation.

Residents are particularly angry the plan is almost identical to one submitted in January 2011 which attracted strong opposition and which Telstra eventually withdrew.

Shane Darcy, who lives on Corrie Parade, said the development was still too close to people's homes.

"The level of community opposition nearly three years ago was a clear message that we did not support this development in its proposed site [and] this opposition remains," he said.

"The closest residence to the proposed tower is 54 metres, with over 100 residences within a 200 metre radius."

Mr Darcy believes Telstra should consider other sites, even if there is a financial burden.

However, Chris Cusack, general manager for Telstra in Newcastle, said service from Gan Gan had reached its maximum, and there was no alternative site.

"Basically we're seeing the next G network demand double roughly every 12 months," he said.

"Look at coverage like a balloon, the more people who use a particular service, the more the balloon shrinks, and the people on the edge suffer the most."

He also said health concerns were misplaced because the electromagnetic energy emitted by the tower was 0.088 per cent of the standard allowed under radio communications standards enforced by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

The residents are pushing for more time to submit to the proposal, with submissions due to close yesterday.

Residents were originally told they could only submit until October 16, which the council has since said was an error.

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