Around 70 people attended a meeting at the Wooloweyah hall last Thursday July 7, to organise against the possible installation of an Optus mobile phone tower on the village’s Honeyman Park.
Wooloweyah suffers from poor Optus mobile phone coverage.
A spokesperson for the group, Dom Ferry, said seven people were nominated and installed to form an executive committee.
While a development application (DA) has not yet been lodged with Clarence Valley Council, residents were alerted to the possibility when workmen were observed surveying the sports field at the park.
Mr Ferry said that there were a number of different reasons held by different parts of the community for rejecting the park as a site for the tower.
“It’s a bit of a quandary that many of us use and rely on mobile phones, however, we think there are better places to put a 35metre high tower,” he said.
The group’s facebook page, W.O.T. – Wooloweyahans Oppose…, states: “We are NOT against the general use of cell towers, just any towers within the Wooloweyah Village precinct, especially when there are more viable, alternative tower sites close by.”
Locating the tower at the water tower just north of the village has been suggested.
Some residents have expressed concerns regarding the possibility of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from the tower having negative impacts on health; others are concerned about the ascetics and intrusion of locating a tower in close proximity to the skate slab, bus stop, basketball hoops and hall.
Mr Ferry said he was heartened by previous council decisions regarding the location of communications towers.
“We are lucky to a degree that the council has listened to people in the past, regarding proposals at Treelands Drive in Yamba and Brooms Head,” he said.
However, while councillors rejected those proposals, the Treelands Drive tower was subsequently built after Telstra was successful in the Land and Environment Court.
The Independent emailed a list of specific questions to Optus’s media centre; however, they were answered with a generic statement.
The Optus reply stated: “Optus is still investigating the feasibility of a number of locations for a new mobile site to improve mobile coverage for the Wooloweyah and Angourie area. Optus has not lodged a DA for this project.
“In assessing locations for new mobile sites, Optus uses customer feedback and our own analysis to identify the best locations for improved voice and data services for local mobile customers.
“We are constantly measuring network experience in order to identify coverage gaps and direct our network investment to improve customer experience.
“We are committed to consulting with the community when we’re examining new sites for our mobile infrastructure.
“We will continue to work with key stakeholders, including local council, on exploring ways we can improve coverage for customers across the Clarence Valley.”
Clarence Valley Council’s environment, planning and community director, Des Schroder, said the council was aware Optus was considering a number of sites in the valley for telecommunications towers, including sites in Wooloweyah.
He said, however, council had not received any development applications.
“Until we do there’s nothing for council to consider,” he said.