FLASHBACK: Mayor Brett Otto looks on as speaker Michelle Anderson addresses the protest rally in February against the 5G tower

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.

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5 Responses to "Court Approves 5G Telstra Tower"

  1. The sentence that caught my attention was….the Court ordered Amplitel and SBRC to pay their own costs. And whose money is that exactly? Why, it’s the ratepayers’ money … wasted! It could have gone to a needy cause but no … wasted to cater to a small lot of protestors.

    When will people learn that tech projects will go ahead no matter what … (note the tiny amendments that really make no difference).

    I suggest that the Mayor and Cr Duff – the ones who caused this debacle – pay the costs instead and allow ratepayers’ money to go towards more important matters, such as road grading and water infrastructure.

  2. Once more you can’t stop progress. These companies have deep pockets and the SBRC council has a loose coin purse at best, knowing it was ratepayers’ money.

    It was a poor decision by the Mayor and Cr Duff to object the 5G tower. That was only made to satisfy under 60 ratepayers, to the detriment of thousands.

    Luckily it was just a speed hump and now we can get 21st century technology. I say bring it on.

  3. When companies like Amplitel get their own way, it is the beginning of careless and reckless expansion, just like the solar farm up the road. The Council makes a decision and it is overruled by the Courts or State Government.

  4. I tend to agree with Maree’s comments of October 20, 2023 relating to the poor decision by the Mayor (Cr Otto) and Cr Duff to object the 5G tower.

    As well intended as their objection might have been if they were just representing a group of disgruntled rate payers, but they represent the entire South Burnett.

    Denying progress to support a group of NIMBYs simply expresses the view that if constituents complain about what is necessary and progressive development, go to Cr Duff and Cr Otto.

    Maree is correct. This would have cost Council thousands of dollars. This was probably a very easy determination for the Planning and Environment Court.

    Should never have been voted against. This Council needs stronger representation and leadership if we are ever going to achieve a sensible and progressive agenda to benefit the entire South Burnett.

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