Contentious phone tower lowered after council negotiations
A CONTENTIOUS phone tower in Struck Oil has been given the green light by Rockhampton Regional Council with an adjustment council hopes will quell the concerns of residents who opposed the project in April.
When the proposal was first put in front of council, a delegation of Struck Oil residents put a case for council to reconsider the proposed development. The locals expressed various concerns, the most pressing of which were the proposed tower's height and the unknown impact of electromagnetic emissions.
The initial proposal stated a tower height of 52.8m which after council negotiations with Telstra, was reduced to 35m. Residents criticised the original proposal as the tower would have protruded the canopy by "over 20m” and significantly obstructed views. Residents were also concerned about EME which local bee-keeper Chris Chappel believed would interfere with the bees' ability to navigate between hive and pollination areas.
Councillors were supposedly met with hostility from the proponent Telstra who threatened to walk away from the project if the original application was not approved which Mayor Margaret Strelow likened to "blackmail”.
"A Telstra representative has told Rockhampton Region councillors that if the council does not approve Telstra's preferred site then Telstra will 'highly likely' simply return the funding to the Federal Government and not proceed at all,” she said back in April.
The resolution to lower the height of the proposed tower to 35m seems to have satisfied both RRC and Telstra.
"The tower will still protrude between five and 10 metres above the trees on that particular site but should be less obtrusive overall,” Cr Strelow said.
Jessie Conway and her husband run a business offering wilderness experiences on a neighbouring property and said the tower, although lowered, would still disrupt the uninterrupted views offered to her customers.
"It's still going to be pretty visible,” she said.
"Our biggest problem was that they (Telstra) never considered any other sites once they knew we didn't want it here.”
Mrs Conway was among the residents to oppose the original proposal and still felt her and her neighbour's concerns about EME were not addressed.
Cr Strelow expressed disappointment that a new site, which was the request of locals in April, did not come as a result of the negotiations with the proponent.
"Council would have much preferred to negotiate with Telstra and find a more acceptable site,” she said.
"Unfortunately, we are bound by our Planning Scheme and other legislation that sits around it. A refusal is not as easy as it seems.”