October 19, 2023
A Telstra 5G mobile phone tower will be built in the grounds of the South Burnett Pistol Club following an order handed down in the Planning and Environment Court this week.
The tower, which was the focus of an on-site protest in Redmans Road in February, will extend more high-speed telecommunication services into the Kingaroy and Coolabunia areas.
The day after the protest rally, Mayor Brett Otto used his casting vote at a Council meeting to block a development application by Amplitel Pty Ltd to build the tower, citing concerns by local residents and others over alleged health issues.
Council officers had recommended the application be approved.
Cr Jane Erkens and Deputy Mayor Gavin Jones voted against the Mayor’s motion to block the tower construction; while Mayor Otto and Cr Kathy Duff voted for it.
Other councillors, declaring a conflict of interest, absented themselves from the decision-making process.
Amplitel promptly lodged an appeal against the SBRC decision in the Planning and Environment Court.
The court ordered mediation occur between the parties.
On Thursday, the SBRC issued a statement that it had accepted legal advice to resolve the matter:
On February 22, 2023, South Burnett Regional Council resolved to refuse a development application for a Development Permit for a Telecommunications Facility located at Redman’s Road Coolabunia.
This was resolved after extensive discussions, with several councillors absenting themselves after declaring a conflict in this matter.
Subsequently, the applicant lodged an appeal to the Planning and Environment Court.
The court ordered mediation in this matter which has taken place over several months, and legal advice recommended that it was in the best interest of the Council to negotiate a suitably conditioned approval to resolve the appeal.
Based on this advice and mediation process, the Court decision was made to grant the approval with conditions after the court ordered mediation and process on Wednesday, October 18, 2023.
“Minor changes” were also approved to the proposed development, including:
- A change in the shape of the headframe on the tower from triangular to a circular, more compact modular design
- The overall height of the development be decreased from 36.3m to 35.7m
- Antenna locations be lifted from 35.0m to 35.3m and 34.3m; and remote radio units lowered from 34.5m to 33.3m
- Amplitel to do additional landscaping
A radiofrequency electromagnetic energy report tendered to the court calculated the maximum EME level of the telecommunications facility would be 1.32 per cent of the public exposure limit; and 1.36 per cent for the proposed monopole.
The Court ordered Amplitel and the SBRC pay their own costs.
The matter was mentioned six times in court during different stages of the appeal process.
- External link: Amplitel v South Burnett Regional Council