THE Colac Otway Shire will encourage Telstra to lodge a planning application to establish a new mobile phone tower at a location that does not impact on the valued streetscape character of Birregurra.
The shire’s council has refused to grant a planning permit for the construction of a 20-metre telecommunications monopole in Birregurra’s Jenner Street because of the detrimental visual impact on the town’s Main Street heritage precinct.
However, the council will inform the federal government and Telstra that the community wants to retain the Blackspot Program funding to improve mobile phone coverage in the town and that the shire will “strongly oppose” reallocation or deferral of the funding.
Shire mayor Jason Schram said the council had asked for the community’s view on the proposed location of the monopole and of the 59 survey responses received, 56 per cent were opposed.
“Council also received a further two written responses opposing the proposed location of the tower in the town’s centre.
“The community members who opposed the tower were concerned about a range of issues including the visual impact on Birregurra streetscape, health concerns and distance from housing, with many comments suggesting the recreation reserve or other less sensitive areas would be more appropriate.
“Council is aware how important it is for good mobile phone coverage in Birregurra but we have to have the right balance between telecommunications and maintaining the town’s heritage character.
“Council will encourage Telstra to lodge a planning application proposing a new mobile phone tower at the recreation reserve or another suitable location as soon as possible.”