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The view from 1 Nymboida St’s veranda; note – the chair is placed where the proposed tower will be erected alongside the existing Telstra exchange.

A tower of trouble

Geoff Helisma |

The view from Brenden Stockdale’s veranda at his Nymboida home will be irrevocably compromised if Telstra erects its proposed 30 metre high monopole.

Part the proposed infrastructure, which is being funded by the Australian Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program, will be just four metres from his property, Mr Stockdale’s alleges.

At last week’s Clarence Valley Council (CVC) meeting’s ‘Open Forum’, Mr Stockdale made a plea to councillors for some sort of intervention, however, as the tower doesn’t require a development application under the relevant state planning laws, CVC is largely powerless.

Quoting from the infrastructure SEPP, Environment, Planning and Community director Des Schroder said “a tower up to 25 metres is a complying development, which you are able to put in without consent in that zone [RU2] … [but] not within 100 metres of a residential zone, or … within 150 metres” if it exceeds 30 metres.

All of Nymboida village is zoned RU2, for which the minimum lot size is 40 hectares under the Clarence Valley Local Environment Plan 2011, however, Mr Stockdale’s block is just 1,316 square metres, and all of the ‘village’ blocks are of a similar size.

As a result, the proposed tower is technically compliant, despite being within 150 metres of house-sized blocks, because the SEPP refers only to the zoning.

Meanwhile, 48 of the village’s residents have signed a petition in opposition to the proposed tower’s location.

Mr Stockdale writes in his submission to Telstra that a company representative (he says reps from Melbourne and Sydney were present) declined to walk the 150 metres from the hall where a community consultation was held on February 12, so they could see the impact it would have on his home.

“The response I got was, and I quote, ‘what would that achieve?’” he said.

In his submission’s conclusion, Mr Stockdale writes: “Telstra representatives at the consultation … blamed the cost constraints under the Federal [Black Spot] Program, [which] prevents them from looking at alternatives sites.

“They claimed if Telstra funded the project, (not the Federal Government) they could be more accommodating to the community and engage in a proper community consultation process.”

Clarence Valley councillor, Greg Clancy, who also attended the meeting, concurred with Mr Stockdale’s version of events.

“[Mr Stockdale] asked whether it could be moved to a more suitable location, but she [the Telstra rep] said that due to the limited funds available to the black spot program they had to use the currently Telstra-owned land and that there was no way they would change that decision,” Cr Clancy said.

“She did say that they would consult with Brenden to try to address his concerns, but that the site was final.

“She talked about planting tall trees to screen the tower or to seek other ways of making it less obvious.”

Spot the house: the montage image that Telstra used in its newsletter for the proposed tower, with the house obscured by the tower and exchange. Images: Contributed.
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