Cheers as council blocks phone tower

Rogert HartiganAPPLAUSE from the public gallery greeted a Ballarat City Council decision to reject plans for a mobile phone tower at Mt Clear.The vote at last night’s ordinary council meeting came despite an officers’ recommendation that the 43m Optus tower be put up on Crown Land at Tinworth Ave.Instead, councillors voted by a margin of five votes to two for an alternative motion which rejected the plans.North ward councillors Noel Perry and Samantha McIntosh voted against the move.Earlier, north ward Cr John Philips and central ward Cr Mark Harris declared indirect interests in the vote outcome – both are Telstra shareholders – and left the chamber before the debate.Cr Des Hudson, who introduced the motion to knock back the tower, said the structure would have been a blight on the landscape.”I don’t think we need to install a tower of this height so that one provider can gain a commercial advantage over another.”Three objectors, all residents in or near Tinworth Ave, spoke of their concerns for the health, safety and amenity of local residents. Delwyn Webb said the tower could attract lightning strikes in nearby bushland, an area already identified by the State Government as one of the most at-risk fire areas in Victoria.Robert Hartigan said there were already 25 mobile phone towers in the greater Ballarat area, including four within a 3.4km radius of the site.But Greg Aitken of Daly International, acting for Optus, said he was not aware of a lightning issue associated with the thousands of mobile towers across Australia.He said the Country Fire Authority had raised no concerns about the potential for such strikes.Two consultation conferences had been held since the proposal was made in March, resulting in the towers height being lowered from an initial 45 metres.It had also been changed from a steel lattice tower to a green concrete monopole.
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