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Outrage at proposed NBN tower near school and pre-school: Durrumbul

The proposed tower near Durrumbul will be similar in height and structure to the NBN tower in Coorabell. Photo supplied.

Update 22 October:

Byron Shire Council have confirmed with Echonetdaily that no DA is required as the tower ‘falls under the SEPP Infrastructure and as such does not require council approval.’

Update 19 October: Byron Shire Council is now saying that the NBN tower may not require a development application (DA) from council.

Councillors had been contacted by members of the Main Arm community and were asked to resolve at Council’s most recent meeting on Thursday, October 18, for it to lodge a submission to Visionstream and NBN Co, opposing the installation.

The reasons provided to councillors were:

(a) proximity to Durrumbul Public School, Durrumbul Preschool and various residences;
(b) the likely later co-location of future services;
(c) disruption of visual amenity for much of the Main Arm valley.

While Mayor Simon Richardson was attempting to put the motion forward for council to make a submission to NBN opposing the tower, staff member Shannon Burt advised him it wasn’t required. Ms Burt stated that the Council are currently working with NBN in the ‘pre-consult’ stage and that a DA would be required.

It now appears that information was incorrect. Byron Shire Council will clarify if a DA is required on Monday.

Original story

A proposed 45m NBN tower within 500m of the local school, pre-school and residences has outraged the Main Arm community.

A letter from NBN to residents of Durrumbul, in Main Arm, states that they don’t require council approval for a 45m tower that will dominate the local environment.

Within only a matter of days since the community resoundingly rejected a Telstra tower at Wilsons Creek, NBN are now proposing an even larger, more visually intrusive tower at Durrumbul,’ said local community member Anton Vanderbyl.

‘The 45m lattice type tower, that is 10m higher than the one put forward at Wilsons Creek, is proposed to be centrally located in the escarpment landscape within 500m from Durrumbul school and be visible from Mullumbimby.’

Do NBN need approval?

In a recent letter NBN have informed residents that ‘the proposed facility is classified as exempt and complying development under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007. Under these provisions, the proposal does not require planning approval from the Byron Shire Council.’

However, it appears council disagrees and in Thursday’s (October 19) Council meeting Shannon Burt, Byron’s sustainable environment and economy director, said that a development application (DA) was required to be submitted by NBN due to the height of the tower. She stated that NBN are currently in the pre-consultation stage with council regarding the tower.

Within 500m of school and pre-school

‘We are concerned about the tower,’ said the director of Durrumbul Pre-School, Anna Benson.

‘Obviously we don’t want it anywhere near children. It needs to be as far away as possible from all people.’

According to the NSW governments education policy on mobile telecommunications facilities the education department does not support or endorse the installation of any mobile telecommunications facilities on school property and ‘the department has a preference for a distance of at least 500 metres from the boundary of the property.’

NBN promise not to install

You could call it predicting the future or perhaps just having foresight but as early as 2015, with the role out of the NBN network, Anton Vanderbyl raised his concerns regarding the impact of fixed wireless technology with then communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

‘A lot of people in this are have made a conscious decision to move to this area to avoid EMR (electro-magnetic radiation) pollution,’ said Mr Vanderbyl.

On April 7 2015 Mr Vanderbyl received a letter from Mr Turnbull that contained a promise from NBN ‘that if there is clear community opposition to the use of fixed wireless technology to provide better broadband, that are would then be services by a satellite solution.’

The question now is will NBN stick to their word?

Community meeting

If you are interested in finding out more about the proposed installation of the tower then join the local community at a meeting being held this Thursday, October 25 at Durrumbul Hall at 6pm.

NBN is also holding a community information session at Kohinur Hall on Tuesday, October 30 from 3 till 6pm. Comments can be submitted to NBN on the proposal until Wednesday November 7 via [email protected], PO Box 5452, West End Qld. 4101 or call 1300 745 210.


14 responses to “Outrage at proposed NBN tower near school and pre-school: Durrumbul”

  1. al oshlack says:

    They promised Fibre Optics,

    Tax payers funded this to a tune over 40 billion and now the scammers at NBN
    are building out of date technology, making a killing to the bank. otherwise known as a rip off,

    Seems easier to get rid of Malcolm then these thieves and liars, who are on a big dollar ride at our expense.

    Just another example of the disintegration of the social fabric of our polity and society,

  2. Milton says:

    It’s possible to negotiate a more aesthetically pleasing tower with nbn. They have them. We asked for a range of “options’ when they arrived in my neighbourhood. So you can reject the “lattice” design and insist they provide a different one. One that doesn’t resemble something from ‘The war of the worlds”.

  3. P S Guthrie says:

    Satellite or tower it is still electromagnetic energy.

    • Anton says:

      Yes but the closer it is the worse it is.

    • David says:

      Yep. Just like that light stuff. Better get them to take down that nasty sun. Transmitting yottawatts of power, how irresponsible! And the electricity produced by the alternator in your car, and, well. Most things really, if you look closely enough.

      Fundamental forces of nature tend to be fairly ubiquitous.

      Or was there something specific you were concerned about, that doesn’t include conspiracy theories utterly unsupported by science despite numerous safety studies?

        • David MacKinnon says:

          Thank you. If you look past the assertions to the actual references, you’ll see most of them reference radiation, rather than mobile tower radiation etc. That’s because the power levels used are typically orders of magnitude higher, the distance from the cells lower (and remember power drops off at an inverse square rate, so at 2m you have 1/4 the power per area than at 1m, at 3m. It’s 1/9th, and it’s typically the power intensity that matters).

          The remaining articles are from a single author, or are simple correlation with no control for other factors (eg correlation of high mobile phone use with low fertility, from an already biased population taken from infertility clinics. Given mobile phone usage is likely strongly linked to lifestyle, which includes things like diet and exercise, it’s highly likely that mobile phone use in this population is just a proxy for another factor)

          I have not seen one single study, where radiation,*at the exposure levels seen from actual mobile towers or phones* has a clinically significant impact on health.

          If you can point to such a study, I’m open to examining it, but study methodology has to be good, and the sad fact is, no one gets their PhD, or research grant for saying “mobile phones are safe like everyone has been saying”. They do get attention and publications for methodologically unsound papers saying the opposite though. This applies to all sciences everywhere. Check out healthcare triage on YouTube for some of the common problems with studies that we see in popular media even.

          Again to put in context, according to the FCC (and we typically have tighter rules) the actual radiated power of a mobile tower is 5-10W per channel. That’s less than my ancient microwave uses in standby. A CB Radio typically is about 4-12W and is transmitting much much closer to your body.

          Unfortunately there are many well intentioned people that don’t understand the science, *and* people taking advantage of that for notoriety and profit.

          At this point EMR has been with us for generations now, the efficiency of new technologies means actual radiated power is more ubiquitous but possibly actually lower than 20 years ago. Given the sky hasn’t fallen there is a significant burden of proof for anyone claiming actual harm.

        • David MacKinnon says:

          Also, I was frankly amazed, given how generally I consider the ACMA to be the ultimate in anti-consumer government orgs, at the generally decent information on their site. But then I realized it wasn’t actually an ACMA site, but rather the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, who I’d never even heard of.

          https://www.arpansa.gov.au/understanding-radiation/radiation-sources/more-radiation-sources/mobile-phone-base-stations

          That site links to another, where you can search for any licensed site and obtain the radiation report for it, which gives you radiation levels against the public exposure limit at various distances. Here’s one near where I live.

          https://www.rfnsa.com.au/embed-public-report/683077

          Exposure at 0-50m is around 6% of that limit, and it drops off quickly from there.
          Another thing I hadn’t actually considered, is that more towers actually usually means less radiation exposure. Modern phone towers tend to transmit directionally, and adjust transmit power based on signal strength (your phone does this too! So the closer the tower, the less exposure you get from that route).

          TV and FM radio transmitters are way bigger/more powerful, btw.. The handbook https://www.acma.gov.au/-/media/Licence-Issue-and-Allocation/Publication/pdf/TVRadio_Handbook_Electronic_edition-pdf.pdf?la=en lists FM stations transmitting up to 100kW ERP (that’s the power times the gain from the antenna, mobile stations may have an ERP up to 500W I think, due to the antenna gain).

          Digital TV seems a bit lower transmission power, though there are some massive ones (180kW !), and it operates closer to the 700-900Mhz range used by phones (470-806 is UHF)

          Honestly I was quite surprised at the amount of useful information about current site licenses available online.

        • David MacKinnon says:

          And here’s the EME report for the proposed tower (I think). It’s one of two proposed for NBN in the area, and is the closest to a public school, I think.

          https://www.rfnsa.com.au/embed-public-report/692859

          The maximum exposure is 0.084% of the public exposure limit at 272m from the tower.

          Those limits would have to be around thee orders of *magnitude* wrong to be a health concern. And I find it hard to believe in a public conspiracy large enough to fudge the numbers that much. Honestly the other direction is more common with these organisations (exceptions exist).

          Oh, that’s maximum exposure, too, if they outputed at full power 24×7, , which they sooo don’t. (It costs money… Trust in their being tightwads more than any concern for you) So there’s probably an order or magnitude or two of margin in there as well, and exposure is if you were in that area all the time 24x7x365, so more.

          Basically someone farting in the state over is more likely to influence your health due to the greenhouse gases involved.

          Visual amenity is a separate issue, though it’s commonly code for “i can’t think of any other reason to object” and I suspect regulators take it as such.

  4. Always-on-line says:

    Tower or no tower, the fact is that we are being forced to transition to an inferior communications platform: the NBN we country folk are being sold (fixed wireless) is slower, less reliable, doesn’t work during heavy storms or downpours, and requires the installation of ugly hardware such as this. And that’s if you’re lucky…
    One of the problems many in the Main Arm community are likely to experience is that due to the dense foliage in the area and the fact that the terrain is not flat, the signal from the tower may be too weak for some households to be functional anyway (there needs to be a direct line of sight to the tower.) It also doesn’t work too well where there are metal rooftops and metal sheds (so basically most of Main Arm!!) In those instances it will be necessary to use the even more inferior, data restricted, much dreaded satelitte service.
    In short, we are being sold a pup.
    The fixed wireless roll-out should be halted as it seriously disadvantages those who cannot connect to it. Why on earth they are persisting with it when the current lines are still providing a comparatively functional system is anyone’s guess.
    EVERYONE should be getting involved in objecting to this – for whilst the tower itself might be ugly, the inferior product it will be delivering has the potential to create two distinct classes in Main Arm: the haves and the have nots. Those stuck with the satelite service have to contend with very restricitve data caps, especially during peak time. The whole fixed-wireless proposal needs a rethink as it simply won’t deliver for this region – we are too hilly, too treey, too tinny, and too stormy.
    The longer we can hold off the NBN the better…perhaps we can delay it long enough via protests that this useless government will fix the system and provide us with a REAL broadband service, instead of this hopelessly inferior “fraudband.”
    Get involved, complain, agitate, go to the meetings, have a voice. Don’t leave it until it’s too late, or assume other people are going to sort this out for you, because it might very well be YOU that ends up without an internet connection.

  5. Alan says:

    And yet nobody will complain about the thousands of towers needed for 5g implementation which is roughly between 2.4gh and 5ghz. They have trouble at the moment due to lack of building penetration and the only way around that is pump the power of transmission and have more more 5g towers.

    Good game.

    Cancer by 2050 for mostly all the population.

  6. BJ Cilia says:

    I don’t think it’d be exempt development under the codes SEPP.

    more likely the Infrastructure SEPP (2007):

    114 Development permitted without consent
    (1) Development for the purposes of telecommunications facilities (including radio facilities) may be carried out by a public authority without consent on any land.
    (2) Before a public authority undertakes the development of a tower or mast under this clause, the public authority must:
    (a) give written notice of its intention to carry out the development to the council of the area in which the land is located (unless the authority is that council) and to the occupiers of any adjoining land, and
    (b) take into consideration any response to the notice that is received within 21 days after the notice is given, and
    (c) take into consideration any guidelines concerning site selection, design, construction or operating principles for telecommunications facilities that are issued by the Secretary for the purposes of this clause and published in the Gazette.

    https://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/#/view/EPI/2007/641/part3/div21

  7. Ryan says:

    They should turn off the sun as well, because that’s electromagnetic radiation. And one that they should actually be worried about.

  8. Greg says:

    These same people are the first to complain that they have third rate internet over their Chia salads!

    Nimbys!

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