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Secrets not welcome

Up to date: South Gippsland Shire Councillor Lorraine Brunt (centre) discusses the rollout of the National Broadband Network with Alison Milner (left) of Ericsson and Katie Hill of Visionstream.

TOWERS up to 50m high will soon be erected across South Gippsland and no one seemed to know, until now.

South Gippsland Shire councillors were last Wednesday briefed about the network of 16 wireless internet towers to be built across the shire.

Of those, 13 will be standalone towers and two – at Ruby and Korumburra – will be co-located on existing towers. Another tower at Fish Creek could be built on an existing site.

The companies behind the project, Ericsson and Visionstream, have been urged to inform the community now to save angst.

The towers are part of the rollout of the National Broadband Network, and will provide high speed internet to residents and businesses to communities of less than 1000 people from late 2013.

Cr Nigel Hutchinson-Brooks urged the companies to work with the community from the outset when determining tower locations, rather than wait and inform them when the towers’ positions were finalised.

That, he said, would “save a lot of heartache”.

Cr Hutchinson-Brooks asked whether the Dumbalk community had been consulted and was told “No”.

“I was at a Dumbalk community meeting recently and they had got wind of it and they were concerned that no one had spoken to them,” he said.

“I would have thought it was the first thing you would do, because you have no idea of how much information you can get out of the local community.”

Council officers will speak at the next meeting of the Dumbalk Progress Association.

Poor mobile phone reception has long been an issue at Dumbalk and council will contact Telstra regarding the possibility of adding a mobile phone antenna to the pole too, to improve services.

Cr Jeanette Harding echoed Cr Hutchinson-Brooks’ sentiment.

“It’s when they (communities) find out after the event that they start asking for someone to explain,” she said.

Mayor Cr Kieran Kennedy said the new council was “driven by community engagement”.

Cr Lorraine Brunt wondered about coverage in the Nyora and Poowong areas, but the company representatives were unsure.

The companies have lodged planning permit applications for many towers with council.

A new tower was mooted for Waratah Bay but due to the likelihood of community concerns, environmental impacts and a low customer base, that tower will not proceed.

Cr Mohya Davies said many people at Sandy Point and Waratah Bay split their time between there and Melbourne, operating online businesses that required an appropriate broadband service.

She believed there should be some co-location of towers with existing towers at Foster North.

Cr Hutchinson-Brooks said many farmers have internet access in their dairies and wondered if they would need a second antenna on their dairies. The company representatives will supply information about this to council.

The companies have guaranteed the signals emitted by the towers will comply with Australian standards and won’t affect people’s health.

The towers must be built as close as possible to the properties they service, with a direct line of sight from the towers to receivers on customers’ premises.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=5640

Posted by on Nov 27 2012. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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