Antenna fight looms

Updated November 7 2012 - 12:41am, first published October 26 2008 - 11:16am
CONTENTIOUS: Margaret O'Rourke speaks with concerned residents.
CONTENTIOUS: Margaret O'Rourke speaks with concerned residents.

THE community battle over a proposed Telstra mobile phone antenna in Strathdale continues to rage unabated.Today marks the deadline for concerned residents and community groups to lodge submissions to Connell Wagner, the town planning consultants employed by Telstra to build the contentious structure.The Advertiser reported the concerns of local residents regarding the transmitter, including the Kay family, last week.The group claims to have been aware of the planned antenna for less than a week.The Kay family held a protest meeting in their home on Friday, their backyard bordering the proposed Lowndes Street site for the antenna.Telstra Countrywide general manager for the Bendigo region Margaret O’Rourke joined four City of Greater Bendigo councillors and about 60 concerned residents at the meeting.A petition circulating since Friday has now gained about 500 signatures, counteracting the 300 people that lobbied Telstra for improved mobile coverage in the area on the Reservoir Road side of Kennington Reservoir.The petition can be signed at Strath Hill Newsagency.The Kennington Preschool Centre, local playgroups and Strathaven have lodged their concerns with Connell Wagner, and the Kennington Primary School school council yesterday met to discuss their position.School council president Roger Douglas was unavailable for comment yesterday, but he did attend Friday’s meeting.Kylie Kay said the main concerns of the group related to the health of children and the lack of research into the impact of electromagnetic energy emissions.On Friday about 20 children played within 50 metres of the proposed location of the structure, which will be three metres high atop the Bargains Galore building and encase three 1.8-metre antennae.The structure will be the first of its kind to be built in a high-density residential area in Bendigo and will emit more electromagnetic energy than all but two of the district’s 23 towers.“Margaret O’Rourke said that 300 people requested improved mobile phone reception in the area, but I don’t think they wanted the tower in their backyard,’’ Mrs Kay said.“The community support has been unbelievable, but so many people are just unaware of it all.’’A committee will be formed on Wednesday to prepare for the next fight in what looms as a lengthy conflict to prevent the antenna from being built.The group is attempting to prove building the structure will breach the Australian Communications and Media Authority code for telecommunications carriers, specifically the clause that relates to building on a site considered community sensitive.“We’ll go as far as we have to,’’ Mrs Kay said.“We’ll chain ourselves to the building if we have to.’’Ms O’Rourke repeatedly stressed during her address to Friday’s meeting that the process behind the planning phase of the antenna - heavily criticised by Mrs Kay as “sneaky’’ - was largely out of Telstra’s hands.“Information regarding this was mailed out about two weeks ago . . . and this is not a Telstra process, it’s a government regulated process.’’Ms O’Rourke said she would also investigate claims material sent to residents regarding the antenna was misleading.

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