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Locals Mobilising Against Major Telco

By Matthew Bartolo on December 27, 2018 in News

Can we get these in the Eastern Suburbs please? by Clive Palmer

Australian telecommunications company TPG is facing backlash from both local residents and Randwick Council regarding the company’s plan to roll out over 60 small cell mobile towers in the area.

Residents throughout the Eastern Suburbs are concerned that the radiation the facilities emit will have long-term health effects on local families who will now likely live within close proximity to one or more of the units.

Eighteen mobile towers have already been built within Randwick Council’s boundaries and another 48 have been proposed, with Bondi, Bondi Junction, Bellevue Hill, Waverley, Tamarama, Randwick, Queens Park and Coogee all set to host the units.

The proposal and implementation of the towers has come under fire, with the potential health effects and lack of public consultation angering residents.

“Residents are grappling with the idea of living next to a mini mobile tower, exposing them and their loved ones to constant electromagnetic radiation as they eat, sleep and try to enjoy the quiet contentment of being home, which is a basic human right,” Coogee local Dr Jenny Khan said.

“The 28-day public consultation process, which is supposed to precede the installation work, is often kept hazy and poorly publicised by the telco so they can slyly erect the installation and swiftly move on to the next one, before residents know what has happened.

“What makes this process even more farcical is that the outcome of the public consultation submission is decided by the telco, which is a major conflict of interest. They are hardly going to say ‘no’ to themselves.”

Such has been the backlash by local residents, Randwick Council has sought legal advice in a bid to hold off on the developments until more is known about the effects the towers might have.

“Residents have approached Council with concerns about the safety of small cell mobile phone facilities being installed close to people’s homes,” Randwick Mayor Kathy Neilson said.

“I too share these concerns and will advocate on behalf of these families and present their concerns to the relevant authorities.

“Recent studies have called into question the safety of small cell mobile phone facilities. The federal government must err on the side of caution and suspend the rollout of these towers until such time as their safety has been assured.”

The council’s ability to halt TPG may be in vain though as federal legislation allows for telecommunications companies to install towers that are classed as low-impact onto power poles without requiring the approval of local councils.

They do, however, have to carry out independent environmental reporting to ensure the towers are not of harm to those in the area.

“Mobile carriers are required to prepare a separate environmental compliance report for every single network facility,” TPG Stakeholder Manager Jacqueline Crompton said.

“These reports demonstrate the maximum or worst-case radio signal strength from the proposed facility, and are prepared in strict accordance with ARPANSA’s reporting requirements.

“At all times, and in any location, TPG operates its radio (mobile) network safely and responsibly at signal strengths significantly below World Health Organisation and Australian standards.”

While there is no specific timeline on when a final decision will be made on the towers that are still in the proposal stage, it appears that the collective voice of the community, and the local council that represents it, are making some waves of their own.

To view the independent reporting on each tower you can head to www.rfnsa.com.au.