Community protests over a tower of problems

ANGRY: Shoalhaven Heads residents express their concern about a new Telstra mobile communications tower planned for the centre of their town, during a protest last week.WHILE Shoalhaven Heads residents have been calling for improved telecommunications for years, plans to build a mobile phone tower in the centre of town have sparked protests.Telstra has lodged a development application to build a mobile phone tower beside sporting fields, the Shoalhaven Heads community centre and the fire brigade station.The application has already prompted objections to Shoalhaven City Council, and sparked a protest in Shoalhaven Heads last week where people complained about the location.Protestor Sue Casburn said at 33 metres tall the tower would be about the height of an eight-storey building, and was totally out of place in Shoalhaven Heads where nothing was over two storeys.She feared the location in the town’s centre would provide an eyesore, dominating the streetscape.“This is the most prominent, visible position in town,” Mrs Casburn said.“It’s disappointing that they have picked such a visible location.”While the main battle is looming over the tower’s location and planning issues, the elephant in the room is health concerns over electro-magnetic radiation emitted by telecommunications towers.“People are mostly concerned about health aspects,” Mrs Casburn admitted, “but no-one’s ever won a battle on health grounds, ever.”However with the tower located next to sporting fields used by large numbers of children, and close to the community centre used by playgroups and as a gathering place for the elderly, she said the health concerns were real.Despite several scientific reports indicating mobile phone towers created dangerous levels of radiation, “There seems to be no regard on the aspects of people’s health,” Mrs Casburn said.With council relying on a scientific report saying mobile phone towers posed no danger, “a lot of people feel a bit powerless,” she added.Several Shoalhaven Heads residents are in the process of looking into the scientific issues surrounding mobile phone towers, along with asking for radio frequency maps to ascertain possible impacts of key locations around the community.However there has been a breakthrough in the tower battle.Following last week’s protest Telstra contacted Mrs Casburn wanting to set up a community meeting on the issue during August to discuss other possible tower locations.“If Telstra is willing to work with us on this then everyone will be happy,” Mrs Casburn said.“They’re really trying very hard to work with us and answer all our questions.”The deadline for submissions to council is also expected to be extended until after the community meeting looking at suggestions for alternative tower sites.This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.