Controversial Telstra tower being built near Lismore
WORK has commenced on a controversial Telstra mobile phone tower on Nimbin Rd at Koonorigan despite a concerted effort against it.
More than 50 submissions were lodged against the location of the tower, including from Lismore City Council, which argued it would compromise visual amenity on Nimbin Rd, which is used regularly by tourists driving to Nimbin.
Resident Ellie Ryan, whose home is just 70m from the tower, is furious that Telstra are proceeding despite serious concerns being raised.
The tower is at the bottom of a valley, at a Telstra exchange just north of the intersection of Koonorigan Rd and Nimbin Rd.
"Because of its positioning, down low in the valley it will not provide the coverage for which it is intended," Ms Ryan said.
"Telstra have told residents that the tower has to go on the proposed site because they are given this information from the Mobile Black Spot Program.
"(But) the co-ordinates on the Mobile Black Spot Program map for Koonorigan are at the top of the ridge, which would give far better coverage.
"There are at least 6 willing land owners that would place the tower on their properties in the area. These sites would give better coverage, as they are more elevated, and would not be located next to residences.
"Telstra have not considered any of these sites.
"The proposed site currently houses an existing Telstra exchange and the main reason for building it there is simply because it is a cheaper option," she said.
"This has been the case in several other locations in our area where Telstra have used existing exchange sites to save them money at the expensive of providing quality mobile phone service to the area."
In a statement, a Telstra spokeswoman said the Koonorigan tower would deliver mobile coverage to a large part of the area for the first time.
"Under the rules of the MBSP, we nominated sites for base stations in regional and remote locations to address locations in the Government's database of mobile black spots as reported by members of the public, local communities and councils and other interested parties.
"A number of factors influence the exact location of a mobile base station, including site acquisition, technical feasibility, State and Council approvals, whether there is existing local infrastructure that can be utilised and the MBSP's guidelines, which are set by the Federal Government.
"Once complete, the Koonorigan mobile base station on Nimbin Road will deliver 3G and 4G mobile coverage to a large part of Koonorigan for the first time.
"Another mobile base station nearby at Coffee Camp was recently activated and is also providing mobile coverage to parts of the northern Koonorigan area and a second mobile base station in Koonorigan has also been selected under Round Two of the MBSP.
"Combined, these mobile base stations will deliver important and extensive new coverage to homes, businesses and busy traffic routes in the region, allowing residents and visitors to call loved ones and clients as well as access fast mobile internet."
In its submission last year, Lismore City Council said "the visual impact of the structure will be significant" and "appeared contrary" to principles in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007 "as the facility should be located and designed to respond appropriately to its rural landscape setting".
"The proposed site for the monopole structure and equipment structure does not allow proper regard for addressing or mitigating the clearly adverse impact the structure will have upon the rural setting, and the resulting negative visual experience for the high volume of rural road users (including international tourists) that use this section of road on a daily basis."