There has been wide-scale opposition to the Optus mobile phone tower proposed for Anna Bay, with many residents concerned about the potential health risks and falling property prices.
Around 40 residents attended a protest rally on Monday opposite a child care centre in Clark Street, located approximately 300m from the tower, to vent their anger over the proposed siting. Some residents, like John and Debbie Giudice and Charlie Douglas and Sarah Azzopardi, live within 100 metres of the base station.
The Examiner reported last week that a Telstra tower approved in 2014 at the Anna Bay site would be upgraded to provide mobile phone service to Boat Harbour residents.
A Port Stephens Council spokesperson confirmed that the existing Telstra tower had been approved under delegated authority and the Optus development application (DA) could be determined the same way as "the application has not been called to council". The DA notification period ends on March 7.
Cr Sarah Smith said she was aware of the opposition to the Optus DA and was collating information by talking to residents, council planners and councillors.
"To have a matter brought before the council requires the support of three councillors, currently my ward colleagues Steve Tucker and Chris Doohan are on leave. I will continue to communicate with all concerned parties," she said.
Paterson MP Meryl Swanson said that her advocacy for the Boat Harbour residents was limited to the upgrade of the Telstra tower. "The Optus proposal is a council matter," she said.
Opponents say they are not against a mobile phone tower. "Why can't they install it further along the national park, away from homes. Why not in Boat Harbour?" is the question they ask.
They have set up a petition opposing the siting of the Optus proposal, stating the radiation emissions pose serious health risks to people and pets.
"Studies relating to the microwave radiation emitted from mobile phone towers indicate people have had issues with sleeping, concentration and fatigue," the petition states.
The Giudice family, who live less than 100 metres from the tower, say they would be forced to move. "You would you do the same if it was your family."
John Pitstock's daughter Liz has a three-year-old daughter who is diagnosed with mitochondrial disease. "Can anyone tell me how the radiation from this tower will affect her?" he said.
Mr Douglas said that the proposed 28.5 metre tall Optus tower would be located just 30 metres away from the couple's property, and 50 metres from their bedroom window.
"Parents of children from the childcare centre need to be aware that their kids are going to be exposed to the radiation emitted from the nearby mobile phone tower if approved," he said.
Mr Douglas said property prices in the immediate area would plummet.
"We, as have many others, have invested our life savings into our property, now we are set to lose a significant amount of the investment if this proposal is approved. Additionally, the residents and motorists of Clark Street face continual heavy vehicle movements during the phone towers construction process, on a narrow road with no line markings and right in front of a busy childcare centre."
In regard to concerns about radiation, Ms Swanson said that the Electromagnetic Energy report for this site notes that the maximum exposure from this site would be 1.88 per cent of the public exposure limit - "an extraordinarily low exposure level".