An image from the planning application for the proposed tower in The Quay, showing how it will look.

Woe is 4G as community voices Quay tower doubts

September 12, 2019 BY

THE planned installation of a telecommunications tower in Torquay North is not being welcomed by some of the area’s residents, who claim it will have health, visual and financial impacts on their homes.

The Surf Coast Shire held a hearing of submissions meeting last week to hear public responses to the planning application for the 4G tower, which will swap out an existing sports light tower at the south eastern corner of the reserve in The Quay and replace it with a combined custom-made tower for lighting and telecommunications.

The planning application submitted in 2018 originally had the tower being built in the reserve’s north-east corner, but Telstra agreed to relocate the tower to the south-east corner in response to concerns about visual impact and amended their application accordingly.

About 40 people attended the hearing of submissions meeting in the council chambers on September 3 and seven people chose to speak – five against and two in support.

Although the tower is being built to be part of Telstra’s 4G network, the tower could be upgraded to 5G technology without a further planning permit.

Many of the opposing speakers voiced their fears about the potential health impacts of 5G.

In wide-ranging remarks that referenced Articles 5 and 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the Wrongs Act 1958, Alan Manson said the “small cells” in a 5G network would lead to hundreds of trees being cut down across the shire, and the shire should apply the “precautionary principle”.

“On behalf of the 164 residents of Torquay that I represent, I’m here to say we will not accept such an increase in microwave radiation being forced upon us.”

Lauren Dylewski said she was willing to accept having terrible phone reception in her home, as real estate agents had told her to expect a 10 per cent drop in value if the tower was visible from her home.

On its website, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) states that “contrary to some claims, there are no established health effects from the radio waves that the 5G network uses”.

“ARPANSA and the World Health Organisation are not aware of any well-conducted scientific investigations where health symptoms were confirmed as a result of radio wave exposure in the everyday environment.”

Supporting the application, independent electromagnetic radiation (EMR) consultant Michael Bangay said there could be another 53 sets of antennas on top of the tower and the EMR emissions would still be within safe limits.