27 October 2014
The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, is continuing his push to give communities more say on the building of mobile phone towers and today introduced another Private Members Bill for an Act to enhance community consultation in relation to the development of telecommunications facilities.
“The telecommunications industry has too much power siting and building mobile phone towers and legitimate community concerns are often unaddressed,’’ he said. “That’s why I am looking to amend the Telecommunications Act.’’
Mr Wilkie said a proposed Telstra phone tower in Merton Street Glenorchy was the latest example of why communities needed a greater say.
“The proposed site is literally among houses,’’ Mr Wilkie said. “Local residents are understandably concerned and have collected hundreds of signatures on a petition opposing the development. But beyond that they are virtually powerless to have their concerns heard.’’
Mr Wilkie has written to Telstra and members of the Glenorchy City Council to represent the concerns of the community and promote an alternative site.
Mr Wilkie’s Telecommunications Amendment (Giving the Community Rights on Phone Towers) Bill 2014 would give people within a 500m radius of proposed towers the right to lodge a complaint, extend the objection period from 10 to 30 business days and require the total height of structures to be considered when development applications are assessed.
Mr Wilkie said new technology and the rapid uptake of smart-phones and other devices require more mobile phone towers to be built to service demand.
“However many new phone towers in recent years have been badly sited and subject to no or little community consultation,’’ he said. “Frankly, residents are the ones who have to live with mobile phone tower developments so they should have a say as to where they’re sited.’’
Mr Wilkie has been involved in similar community battles against phone towers in Sandy Bay and Claremont.
“While the community had a big win in Sandy Bay, Claremont was a different matter due to the indifference of Glenorchy City Council to the justified concerns of the local community,’’ he said. “Despite another more suitable site being available the Council and Telstra settled on a site smack bang on the sidelines of a sports field which is a hazard to junior football players.’’