Cellphone tower work 'insulting' to residents
Residents are fuming over plans to erect a 12.5-metre cellphone tower in the heart of their Upper Hutt community.
Matthew Conder and partner Gina Dittmer found out at the end of May that the 2degrees cellphone tower would be installed at the bottom of their Forest Rd property, just 14m from their bedroom and blocking secondary access to their property.
While Mr Conder said he did not have a problem with a tower in the area, it was insulting that residents had not been consulted or even notified of the plan until contractors turned up at the site one morning.
"I've been fuming for about three weeks."
Network providers are not required by law to apply for resource consent for towers under 15m high so long as they meet national environmental standards.
Residents and Upper Hutt City Council had been left powerless to oppose the tower, Mr Conder said.
"All the council can really do is tick the box because it's a permitted activity. It's ridiculous. They said there would be minimal earthworks and no damage to existing trees, but they've sawn half the tree down and dug a huge hole."
However, after the council was alerted, staff visited the site and stopped the earthworks as they were in breach of the resource consent for the site.
That delay buys residents time only until the end of the month, when 2degrees could restart work under a newly lodged resource consent.
Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy said he was meeting residents and contractors over the issue, and would be working to find a solution. "I'm following this very closely."
2degrees sent out a flier to Pinehaven residents early last week detailing seven options it had considered over the past 12 months before settling on the Forest Rd site as it had "the least community impact of the options available".
"Whenever possible, we try to avoid residential areas. However, this site was chosen because it is up a hill with least impact to anyone's view," the company said in a statement.
In its flier, it said the increasing use of smartphones and mobile data meant it needed to improve its service.
Ms Dittmer said 2degrees had told the pair it would carry out its own investigations, but she hoped it would co-operate with residents and reassess whether the tower could be moved elsewhere.
"The community is clear that they have picked the wrong site and they want it further away from houses. Hopefully 2degrees will work with residents on a better option."
The Dominion Post