What do you do when a landowner blocks public access to important communications infrastructure?
Build a road around him of course.
At last night’s Lismore City Council meeting, councillors voted unanimously to allow Southern Cross Austereo to construct a four-wheel drive track to access important infrastructure located at Parrot’s Nest.
Austereo director Geoff Inwood said communications infrastructure at Parrot’s Nest had been established back in 1991 and was used by a number of organisations.
However when it was discovered that the public road leading to the infrastructure crossed private land, Austereo and other users were asked to pay an annual toll of around $7000 each to the landowner.
The landowner has refused to meet with council staff to discuss the situation, and has refused formal mediation unless he was paid to attend.
Mr Inwood said it was in everyone’s interest that access was granted for users of the infrastructure, which provided the area with emergency communications.
In letters to the council, users of the road told of being denied access by the landowner, with one such confrontation requiring police attendance last year.
Soul Pattinson Telecommunications director Mick Watts said his organisation needed to access the infrastructure to repair faults and to do maintenance.
Mr Watts said important customers depended on the facility, including Casino and Lismore hospitals, Essential Energy, NBN Television, the Attorney General’s department and the Lismore ambulance service.
The council had previously attempted to resolve the situation by negotiating a land swap with the landowner, who wants to subdivide his property.
Those negotiations will continue but the four-wheel drive track will be built as an interim measure, with the costs covered by Austereo.