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Byron Shire
February 5, 2023

Region’s residents resist telco towers

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Some northern rivers residents are concerned that proposed telecommunication towers may potentially cause health problems. (File Pic)
Some northern rivers residents are concerned that proposed telecommunication towers may potentially cause health problems. (File Pic)

Darren Coyne

Determined groups of northern rivers residents are resisting the erection of telecommunications towers, citing health concerns.

A group of Ocean Shores residents have vowed to block Telstra’s plan to build a 30-metre tower near residences, and within 500 metres of local schools.

Their opposition follows the formation of other groups opposed to towers for the National Broadband Network in the Kyogle, Lismore and Tweed areas.

The recently formed Ocean Shores Tower Action Group (OSTAG) said it had identified four major risks that residents and school children would be exposed to if the tower goes ahead at the site chosen by Telstra in Ocean Shores.

They are health risks from electromagnetic radiation, increased fire risk, increased exposure for school and pre-school children and negative impact on land values

The Byron Shire Council will consider Telstra’s request to build the telecommunications tower on council land between Player Parade and Flinders Way, Ocean Shores, on 5 February.

Prior to that decision, however, OSTAG is planning a public meeting at 6pm on January 29 to rally support against the proposal.

OSTAG spokesperson Ray Musgrave said residents were not opposed to improved telecommunications but ‘want Telstra to do its homework and come up with a safer, alternative site that doesn’t pose a risk to residents’.

According to OSTAG, the evidence around health risk is a major concern.

The group says there is a lack of research on the long-term effects of telephone towers, but a number of scientific studies point to a range of dangerous medical conditions, including cancer, for anyone living or working near a tower.

They say the greatest concern raised by residents is that there is primary school within 270 metres, and a preschool within 390 metres.

‘We worry about the long term effects on children attending the primary school and pre-school,’ Mr Musgrave said.

‘We don’t want our kids to be the guinea pigs that finally prove these towers are dangerous.’

Residents have also raised concerns about potential fire risks because the chosen site is surrounded by dense bush land.

‘Towers attract lightning strikes and are prone to electrical faults – both of which pose a high fire risk,’ Mr Musgrave said.

‘We are concerned that the review of alternative sites has been conducted by Telstra, rather than by an independent body,’ he said.

‘They’ve chosen the site that is easiest for them to access and costs them the least to develop – without proper regard to the risks and costs incurred for residents. ‘We think that’s not good enough.’

Meanwhile, residents in the Barkers Vale area of Kyogle shire, Lillian Rock in Lismore’s council area, and Clothiers Creek in Tweed shire continue to oppose the erection of towers for the National Broadband Network.

The residents are refusing to sell land for the projects and have formed a group called OREAD.

OREAD founder Annum Luca told Echonetdaily last month that OREAD had been collating information on the health impacts of radiation, how those emissions affected cellular activity and the formation of blood cells in the bone marrow as well as a other effects on the hormonal system.

NBN Co announced in December that an estimated 33.200 premises would be connected to the network by June 2016.

There are now 26 towers either built or in preparation across Kyogle, Richmond Valley, Lismore, Ballina and Byron local government areas, and two new subdivisions in Wollongbar and Mullumbimby with built-in fibre optic cable.

Several areas that now have NBN fixed wireless towers in the planning phase include Nimbin, Kyogle, McKees Hill, Whiporie, and Rosebank.

Mr Luca said residents were not convinced that towers were the way forward, saying they would deliver dangerous, outdated technology.

It’s understood that residents along Lillian Rock Road have refused offers by NBN Co to host towers on their land, despite financial incentives understood to amount to $100,000 over a 20-year period.

‘Out of all the areas in the Northern Rivers NBN has admitted we are putting up the most resistance with no one “selling out ” for an NBN tower to radiate the district,’ Mr Luca said.

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  1. You can drum up an anti- group everywhere for anything in this area these days.
    They’re against Telstra towers, CSG, fluoridation, vaccination yet they all benefit from these things.
    They all use mobile phone, they all use or benefit from gas in one of its forms of delivery, their kids’ teeth reflect whether their water’s been treated, and we ALL benefit from living in a healthy immunised environment.
    I’ll withhold my vote from any politician who constantly gives in to all these views.

    • The notion that the Ocean Shores public resistance is inappropriate is ill informed and naive.
      We all understand and accept progress, in this case for Telstra’s expanding network.
      Telstra have a preference for this proposed site as it has access attributes that will save them money. Telstra’s savings would be to the direct detriment of an existing local residential community.
      There are health risks for the pre and primary schools that are both within 400 metres of the site. There would be heightened bush fire risk and logically directly affected property values will reduce.
      Importantly, Telstra do have alternative sites they can utilize.
      One thinks Telstra are wealthy enough to carry any extra costs to establish a tower in a location that will not unnecessarily impact on a established residential area.

  2. These people don’t seem to know the difference between ‘fissionable/fissile’ radiation (like, from uranium, etc) and ‘electromagnetic’ radiation (such as light, microwaves, radio waves, etc).

    If they’re worried about ‘phone signals, they’re going to freak out entirely when they hear about sun-light, microwave ovens and light-bulbs.

    Tin-foil hats should fix it, though.

    • Perhaps Julian would like to stand out in the harmless sunlight for 24hrs a day 7 days a week without a break or protection. They say we have to protect our skin with a reflecting cream and tinted glass lenses over our eyes to stop the sunshine from frying us. Go on, get out there today and stand there until dark, let’s see how great you feel then, better yet, send some little kids out there with their fragile new skin and thin skull bones. Or you could just pass on your address to Telstra and let them know you are happy to have a EMR tower above your house.

  3. some people think it is a Byron Shire sport to oppose every development, if you want to be free from microwaves, fluoridation, immunization CSG etc, move to some desert and let us get on with our lives. I am trying to earn a living to feed my family on the internet and in the 21st century I am not even able to have a stable landline for my phone and Internet in Ocean Shores – I oppose the opposer, maybe I should form an anti opposing group

  4. Its not all about health risks. The bushland surrounding this proposed site requires new houses to be built to a construction level Bal FZ – Flame Zone. Most of the houses in this area were built before this legislation was introduced making them even more vunerable. Put a 30m Lightning rod ( which is higher than the tree level ) in your backyard and in dense bushland surrounding and see how safe you would feel.


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