Coffs Harbour City Council opposes telecommunications towers near schools

Coffs Harbour City Council has confirmed its opposition to telecommunications towers near schools in a draft policy. Photo: Emma Darbin.

 

COFFS Harbour City Council has affirmed its position against the placement of telecommunications towers within 500 metres of schools and child care facilities in a draft Provision of Telecommunications Infrastructure Policy.

The draft policy was developed by Council to outline Council’s expectations for the appropriate provision of telecommunications infrastructure in situations where Council has a role in the development process.

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The draft policy has been created despite Council recently approving the placement of a 25 metre high Optus telecommunications tower at Advocate Park, Coffs Harbour, to service Coffs Harbour Education Campus (CHEC).

The telecommunications tower, which will be situated on the southeast corner of Hogbin Drive and Stadium Drive opposite CHEC, was narrowly approved by councillors four votes to three following much Council debate.

A telecommunication tower has previously been placed along Beach Street, Woolgoolga, just down the road from Woolgoolga Public School.

Coffs Harbour City councillors discussed the contentious issue at Council’s ordinary meeting on Thursday 27 May with Cr Sally Townley stating it was “a really difficult issue” and Cr George Cecato stating that he supported the Council’s policy to place the towers “500 metres away from schools”.

Cr Michael Adendorff, however, stated that the policy would restrict Council’s decision making ability in regards to the placement of future telecommunications towers.

“There is a general legal principle that decision makers cannot make decisions that interfere with future decisions, unless there is a law that says these things can’t be within 500 metres; there is no such law,” Cr Adendorff said.

“We are limiting or restricting our own decision making.”

Coffs Harbour Mayor Denise Knight said the draft policy would guide the Council in making future decisions on the placement of telecommunications towers in the region.

Council’s General Manager Steve McGrath confirmed this and stated “you are sending a signal that this Council is not supportive of those structures within 500 metres of those facilities”.

Councillors unanimously resolved to amend the draft Provision of Telecommunications Infrastructure Policy and draft Coffs Harbour Development Control Plan 2015 (Telecommunications Facilities) to reflect the principle that Council is not supportive of telecommunications towers in close proximity (500m) to schools and child care facilities, and to endorse, publicly exhibit and carry out stakeholder consultation on the updated draft Provision of Telecommunications Infrastructure Policy for 28 days.

Council will also endorse and publicly exhibit a draft amendment to the Coffs Harbour City Council Community Participation and Engagement Plan for 28 days, and endorse, publicly exhibit and carry out stakeholder consultation on the updated draft Coffs Harbour Development Control Plan 2015 (Telecommunications Facilities) for 28 days.

A proposal is currently being advertised to install a new Telstra mobile phone base station within the South Coffs Harbour industrial area at O’Keefe Drive, Coffs Harbour, which will consist of a 30m monopole, six 4G panel antennas and three 5G panel antennas.

 

By Emma DARBIN

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