NBN tower too close for comfort

PHIL and Rochelle Kerney will continue fighting to have a wireless broadband tower, proposed for private land 200 metres from their Springside property, relocated onto nearby Canobolas State Forest land, despite Orange City Council approving the NBN tower.

The Kerneys and the couple’s neighbour Dr Derek Davies have been battling the 41-metre-tall tower for several months, asking for NBN Co to reconsider the location, which they say impacts on the views of their properties.

Mr and Mrs Kerney plan to lobby member for Calare John Cobb and member for Orange Andrew Gee and believe the council only approved the tower because of NBN Co’s threat of Land and Environment Court action.

They have the support of five Orange councillors: Neil Jones, Scott Munro, Ron Gander, Reg Kidd and Ash Brown; who lost their attempt to have the council’s December decision approving the tower overturned at last Tuesday’s meeting.

The Kerneys have approval to build a house on the five-acre block, but say the tower will be seen from every part of the property and are uncertain what the future holds if they are unable to force the tower’s relocation.

“We wake up in the middle of the night wondering [what to do],” Mr Kerney said.

“All we want is for [NBN] to address this honestly and compassionately.”

Unlike the neighbouring property owners, who will be paid an annual lease for the tower on their property, the Kerneys believe they will be left out of pocket as the 41-metre tower depreciates their property’s value.

Mr Kerney describes the tower’s approval as a compounding of mistakes, with NBN Co failing to notify the neighbouring property owners, not properly investigating alternative sites in the five-kilometre radius where the tower had to be located, and providing incorrect information to the council about the tower’s location.

“The historical precedents would be to put the tower [on state forest land],” he said.

“NBN have lied to council saying they approached the forestry people.”

Cr Jones told Tuesday’s meeting he had contacted representatives of NSW Forests and was told NBN Co had not approached the agency about leasing the nearby forest land.

He said the forest’s managers told him they would have welcomed the opportunity to do business and accommodate the needs of NBN in the state forest, with towers already placed in state forests because of the better elevation and the reduced likelihood of disturbing residents.

A NBN spokesperson did not respond in time for publication, but at Tuesday’s council meeting Ericsson community relations advisor Jacqueline Crompton spoke on behalf of NBN and compared the Springside tower with another monopole the council approved at Spring Hill, which she said would had a greater visual impact.

“After having a DA in for eight months it’s too late to consider another property,” she said.

“[If it was rejected] council would be saying the visual impact is so severe it’s worth risking service to 1300 households across the LGA.”

clare.colley@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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