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Byron Shire
February 25, 2021

Could Optus tower near nature reserve impact birdlife?

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After reading Fast Buck’s letter (Echo 11 April) entitled Denying public voice, that stated, ‘Staff are currently proposing changes to public access,’ we found ourselves in need of addressing Council at the 19 April Ordinary Meeting.

Concerned after reading the Statement of Environmental Effects for a proposed Optus telecommunications facility at 2 Jones Road, Wooyung, dated August 2017, we found no assessment of potential impacts from emissions of electromagnetic radiation on dozens of threatened and migratory faunas recorded using the Jones Road wildlife corridor and listed in the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and the EPBC Act 1999. An additional report dated November 2017 did include a passing reference to electromagnetic radiation which stated; ‘With the construction of the telecommunications tower some potential for emissions of electromagnetic radiation may result during the operational phase.’

We grew further concerned when we read the Byron Shire Council Staff Reports – Sustainable Environment and Economy 13.14, stating that it raised no significant issues and recommended it for approval. After our five-minute address alerted Councillors to these facts they voted to defer the DA until the situation is examined more closely by Council ecologists. Dozens of scientific studies examining electromagnetic phone tower radiation effects on wildlife show disruption to bird and insect orientation and migration and direct increases in wildlife mortality causing serious declines of fauna populations. This research has huge implications for the natural world, now exposed to high microwave radiation levels from a multitude of phone towers. The situation is rapidly escalating as we go from 3G to 4G and 5G increases of electro-magnetic radiation.

With 99.7% of warm moist lowland forests gone and pitiful remnants of 0.3% still left intact, this last wildlife corridor is of critical importance. It allows essential migration during the winter months when food resources at high elevations are minimal in the UNESCO World Heritage listed Mt Warning Caldera rainforests. The corridor was Byron Shire’s main Koala stronghold and this iconic species 5 years later is now declared almost extinct by Council ecologists throughout the nature reserves all the way to the Brunswick River. The wallabies, bandicoots, possums, gliders, most species of birds, reptiles and frogs have also declined rapidly over recent years.

Whether phone towers effect wildlife is difficult to know, perhaps their impacts are minimal. Deputy Mayor Basil Cameron questioned when these minimal effects from all the developments in and adjacent the last wildlife corridor combine to produce major effects. Are these parts of the reason why visitors to Byron Shire’s national parks and nature reserves hear only eerie silence, where not long ago they were delighted to hear orchestras of bird song music?


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  1. Could Embark wind farms impact birdlife? We know they do because of the vortices. Environmentalists are good at beginnings and bad at endings. And if you think Embark is some cosy little local community group then look them up.


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