Brighton cellphone tower concerns

RICHARD DAVISON
Last updated 15:25 24/04/2013
Southland Times photo
RICHARD DAVIDSON/Fairfax NZ
Brian Freeman is concerned about a new 2degrees cellphone tower in his street.

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Brighton residents are furious a new 12-metre cellphone tower can be installed outside their homes, without public consultation.

News of the proposed southern Scroggs Hill Rd tower, belonging to mobile telecommunications company 2degrees, surfaced during a routine planning enquiry to Dunedin City Council.

Brighton resident Brian Freeman was shocked to hear a non-notifiable certificate of consent was being considered for the tower, which could appear, unannounced, 50m from his home as early as the end of the week.

"People here are lucky to have the beautiful coastline views to enjoy from their homes," Freeman said.

"This will spoil that, no question."

The father of three also expressed health concerns arising from having a high-frequency radiation source nearby.

"We're not the only family living down this end of the road and some neighbours will have this right on their doorstep," he said.

"I don't believe there's conclusive evidence saying cellphone radiation has zero harmful effects to those living nearby."

DCC senior planner John Sule confirmed an application for a certificate of consent for a telecommunication facility at the council-owned site had been lodged by 2degrees on March 18.

"The District Plan allows for telecom facilities to be installed without public consultation, providing they fall within certain size and safety parameters," Sule said.

Under existing rules, visual impact was not a required consideration for the proposed site, he said.

Two Degrees external communications manager Charlene White said the tower was necessary to improve the company's mobile coverage in the region.

Several alternative locations had been considered, including co-location with the Telecom tower to Brighton's northwest.

Factors including structural incompatibility issues and inadequate coverage had discounted that option, she said.

"The Scroggs Hill Road site was considered the best location as it's on a spur, so can provide the best coverage for all areas of Brighton.

"Our cell towers are safe and fully comply with the stringent standards set by the Ministry of Health. In fact, on average, our towers operate at only around one per cent of the level that the Government permits and use the same technology as wi-fi, cordless phones and baby monitors."

A public meeting would be held by 2degrees.

Cellphone stoush: Brighton residents are unhappy about a 12-metre 2degrees cellphone tower proposed for the seaside end of Scroggs Hill Road. Why: Health and aesthetic concerns have been raised. When: The non-notifiable installation could begin at any time. How: Find out more at a 2degrees-organised public meeting at Oceans View's Robertson Hall, on Monday, April 29, 4-8pm.

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