NBN tower court losses bring council code change
THE council will adjust its stance on telecommunications towers after having three refusal decisions appealed by NBN Co.
It comes after an internal review of its telecommunications code recommended minimum setback distances be observed to protect the amenity of areas rather than for health and safety reasons.
In June last year councillors voted 10 to one against NBN Co's development application to build a 40m pole with transmission equipment on Mooloolah Rd in Eudlo.
They said it conflicted with the region's planning scheme as well as the council's telecommunications facility code and did not demonstrate sufficient public interest values to override those conflicts.
Requirements of the telecommunications code included towers be built no closer than 400m from homes, 500m from schools or childcare facilities and not within 20m of a public pathway.
Health and safety risks related to electromagnetic energy were a part of reasoning for that.
NBN Co subsequently appealed the councillors' refusal in the Planning and Environment Court.
A review ordered in June last year into the telecommuncations code has found the Eudlo appeal was one of three the council had recently settled with NBN Co.
NBN Co was able to demonstrate there were no suitable alternative locations for a tower which could achieve the 400m setback distances the council sought.
NBN Co had also shown the potential for adverse amenity impacts had been minimised enough for the towers to comply with the telecommunications code even if they hadn't met the required setback distance.
Council staff also reviewed setback provisions in other local government areas, which showed some areas didn't have any at all.
"Whilst there are different approaches reflected in these planning schemes, it is apparent that the focus on inclusion of setback provisions is related to amenity and not health and safety risks," the report found.
The review found setback distances did not need to be amended.
"However, there is considered to be a case for some refinement to the code to more clearly state the purpose and intent of these setback distances in respect to local amenity."
All present councillors at Thursday's meeting except Ted Hungerford and Greg Rogerson voted in favour of the adjustment.