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.