MCCRAE residents say the “visual gateway” to the southern Mornington Peninsula will be ruined if a phone tower is built at the corner of Lonsdale Street and the Mornington Peninsula Freeway.
Bayview Road resident Alan Hanley is upset that residents only received notification of the proposal from Mornington Peninsula Shire after 5 April, with paperwork stating the advertising period started 5 April and the application would be decided after 19 April.
Hanley said the 27.5-metre tower planned for land next to the freeway’s on-ramp would be visible from homes and would be the first thing travellers would see.
“Why would anyone want a sight like that to be the focus of the visual gateway to the area,” he said.
“It’s going to be horrific and everyone around here is unhappy with it.”
Hanley said he believed the loss of amenity and visual impact were important grounds for knocking the tower application back and urged the council to consider residents’ concerns.
As with all phone tower proposals, the council is obliged to consider objections that relate to a number of issues, including loss of amenity.
The mayor Cr Steve Holland said the 14 days’ notice was “dictated by the Planning and Environment Act 1987”.
“Objections to the application can still be lodged up until a decision is issued. However, once the formal 14-day notification period has elapsed there is no assurances that objections lodged will be considered prior to a decision on the application,” he said.
“Should any anyone wish to lodge an objection to the proposal it would be encouraged that they do so as soon as practicable.”
Council’s development services manager David Simon has responded to previous complaints about phone tower applications by saying people who needed more time to prepare a submission could request it by emailing and providing reasons why they can’t make the deadline.
He said council must consider all the relevant sections of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 and the Mornington Peninsula Planning Scheme when making a decision. Among other things, it must consider design, siring, construction, and operation of a facility, and its effect on neighbouring properties.
Hanley said residents were also concerned about the potential health effects of phone tower radiation but had been told that would not be considered.
Although all mobile phone towers transmit electromagnetic energy, there is no proven Australian evidence of public health risks from exposure from mobile phones or mobile phone towers (ARPANSA). The CSIRO in a report from 1995 urged more research on health effects be carried out.
The Optus Mobile phone tower application has been submitted by Queensland company SAQ Consulting on behalf of engineering/infrastructure firm Stilmark and is believed to be part of a widespread project to improve communications coverage on the peninsula.
Former Stilmark spokesman Chris Hayes previously told the News said there was a significant gap in the coverage footprint of mobile phone facilities on the peninsula.