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Update on proposed Optus tower at Wesley Hill

Pile of newspapers wrapped in string.

Council has supported an application for a communication tower to be installed at Wesley Hill Recreation Reserve.

Wednesday 18 September 2019

Mount Alexander Shire Council last night determined to issue a notice of decision to grant a planning permit (220/2018) for a telecommunications facility at Wesley Hill Recreation Reserve.

The telecommunications facility will provide communications services to enhance mobile phone and internet coverage in Wesley Hill and Castlemaine as part of nationwide rollout by Optus to improve mobile black spots.

The proposal was for the construction of a 35 metre pole, antennae and associated infrastructure reaching a height of more than 38 metres in the south western area of Doug Powell Oval. The tower will also host a fourth set of floodlights as part of an upgrade to the recreation facility.

Council received 64 objections against the proposal and councillors heard concerns from members of the community during public question time.

Objectors raised concerns such as the size and scale of the tower, the impact on local character and amenity, the effect of floodlights on nearby residents, and potential health risks associated with exposure to radio emissions. Some of the issues raised did not relate directly to the telecommunications facility.

Council supported the application, following a division (4/3) in favour of the facility.

Mayor of Mount Alexander Shire Bronwen Machin said councillors acknowledged there were concerns from some community members regarding the proposed tower.

“The proposal was supported on the basis that many people will benefit from the better communications services which are much needed in the shire’s largest town.

“We are dealing with a land use matter and there are no reasonable planning grounds for refusal,” said Cr Machin.

The planning permit application meets the relevant requirements of the planning scheme, including an assessment of principles that guide the design, siting, construction and operations of telecommunications facilities in the Victorian code of practice.

The planning permit will be subject to a series of conditions including compliance with radiation standards set by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) as the responsible authority.

“Council acknowledges the tower will be visible from some locations but our growing towns need modern telecommunications facilities that are accessible to business and the community. The facility must also comply with national standards in relation to electromagnetic radiation,” said Cr Machin.

Objectors have 28 days to lodge an application for review with VCAT, before council can issue the permit.

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