Council looks at NBN sites near Yarram

RESIDENTS close to a proposed site for a 40 metre high NBN telecommunications tower near Yarram have won one month’s reprieve.

Following lengthy submissions from objectors during council’s meeting last Tuesday night, Cr Bob Wenger managed to convince council to visit an alternative site.

NBN contractors Visionstream Pty Ltd had requested a planning permit for land on Parrots Rd, east of Buckleys Island Rd, Yarram to erect the 40 metre high lattice tower, which would become a hub for the delivery of fixed wireless broadband to Yarram’s surrounding districts.

The proposed site is on land adjacent to a zone identified for long term medium and low density residential development.

In its briefing paper council notes “the establishment of the proposed facility in this location would limit (or prevent) the potential future rezoning and residential development … The establishment of the proposed facility will not only provide NBN connectivity to the surrounding Yarram catchment, but is also required as a ‘hub’ site to connect to the proposed Port Albert, McLoughlins Beach, Woodside and Alberton facilities.”

Visionstream had previously rejected alternative locations at the Yarram tip site and the Yarram cemetery as the Parrots Rd site has greater elevation and provides a better coverage in all directions, the cemetery and tip options being limited by a rise to the north.

Opposing the location of the facility on Parrots Rd, Buckley Island Rd resident Zoe Janssen made an impassioned plea for council to represent the interests of its residents.

She suggested council should direct Visionstream to the cemetery site, acknowledging the 10 per cent loss of signal from that site.

She suggested it would be the same as having only four and a half bars reception on a mobile phone.

“Four and a half bars of service, out of five, does not stop the phone from working.

“You can still stream the internet, you can watch video, make your phone calls,” she said.

“It is the exact same thing as to a product which is far superior in coverage and power, and that is the only piece of evidence which has been provided by Visionstream why the cemetery site is not suitable.”

Ms Jansen pointed out a 10 per cent loss of signal could be experienced in a multi-storey building in the city.

“In real terms what does that mean?

“You are still able to make those calls, still able to surf the net, still able to stream audio and video.”

She asked if the NBN connection was being over-engineered.

“Are we splitting hairs over a service capacity that will never be noticed by the people in this area?

“Does the council actually understand the product that is being obtained here?” she asked.

“It’s like taking a fire hose to water your garden.”

Fellow Buckleys Island Rd resident Alison McAlpine said her home was 300 metres from the proposed tower.

She claimed neighbours were now putting their properties on the market because of the tower proposal and feared a drop in land values.

“I’m hoping the Buckleys Island Rd community is not left with a planning blight that will stifle growth, in which council themselves have put in their planning schemes defining this site the tower is going to be put on, and the surrounding land, to be the development land for Yarram in the future.

“I believe this tower will be detrimental to the future of the area.”

She referred to possible health concerns and suggested local residents would be the guinea pigs establishing the risks of electromagnetic radiation just like asbestos workers.

Cr Wenger proposed the motion lay on the table to allow council to visit the alternative site.

“Recently we did an on-site visit but we only visited one site, we never visited the cemetery site,” he said.

“We have heard from the NBN people that the tower (at Parrots Rd) has been reduced … at the same time he is also saying the towers can be raised if it is put at the cemetery site.

“I would like to hear from them at a meeting to find out if this is possible and how much reduction in service to the other people in the area (would result).”

Following a rewording of Cr Wenger’s motion, council agreed to allow the application to remain on the table for one month.

Council backs NBN tower permit for McLoughlins Beach