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The Lower Clarence was inundated with signs advertising Circus Phoenix. Images: Lynne Mowbray

Power to the poles

Geoff Helisma | It was hard to miss the massive amount of signage that was attached to public and private infrastructure around Maclean and Yamba over recent weeks. The signs were advertising Circus Phoenix, which played at the Maclean showground from Wednesday February 14 to Sunday 18. The Independent made enquires to the three authorities that oversee the public infrastructure upon which the signs were attached: Clarence Valley Council (CVC), Essential Energy (EE) and Roads and Maritime Services (RMS). Both CVC and EE said rules or laws had been transgressed. An emailed response on Thursday February 15 from CVC, attributed to Environment, Planning & Community director Des Schroder, said “council staff had been to visit the operators to get them to comply with the conditions of the LEP [local environment plan]”. The LEP allows temporary signage without CVC’s consent provided it doesn’t exceed a maximum 0.75 square metres or is higher than 2.4 metres above existing ground level. Other aspects of the LEP signage regulations that appear to have been breached are: “must not include advertising of a commercial nature (except for the name of the event’s sponsor which is not to exceed 25% of the area of the sign); must not be more than 5 signs per event; the sign must not be fixed to any building or structure without the permission of the owner (including, in the case of public infrastructure, the permission of the relevant authority).” Less clear is whether or not the signage fitted within the relevant event categories outlined in the LEP as having to be of “religious, educational, cultural, political, social or recreational character or relate to a temporary matter in connection with the event”. Essential Energy’s emailed response “reminds customers and event organisers that attaching signs or posters to power poles is dangerous and against the law”. “Access to the electricity network and the display of visual advertising is regulated by law as the activity can pose a serious safety risk and is in breach of the Electricity Supply Act and the Graffiti Control Act,” the statement reads. “Strict safety procedures apply for authorised Essential Energy employees or contractors to access or work near the electricity network, including maintaining safe clearances, wearing personal protection equipment and using insulated barriers. “Essential Energy is aware of posters being placed on power poles across the Clarence Valley to advertise a local entertainment event and is working with the organiser to safely remove the posters throughout today [Friday February 16]. “Customers can contact Essential Energy on 13 23 91 to report signage on power poles.” Roads and Maritime Services’ emailed response stated it “does not allow advertising along the state road reserve”. “Anyone who wishes to place signage outside the road reserve must apply for a development application through the relevant local council,” the statement said. “The state road reserve includes roads and properties owned by Roads and Maritime Services.”