City faces tower dilemma

Aiden BoyhamSound Telegraph
Secret Harbour Residents Action Group spokesman Geoff Collins has criticised the location of the proposal and its height, labelling it a potential eyesore in the heart of Secret Harbour.
Camera IconSecret Harbour Residents Action Group spokesman Geoff Collins has criticised the location of the proposal and its height, labelling it a potential eyesore in the heart of Secret Harbour. Credit: Aiden Boyham

A controversial proposal for a phone tower in Secret Harbour is set to appear again before the City of Rockingham council on Tuesday night.

The proposal from Telstra seeks to build a 25m high structure next to Secret Harbour Shopping Centre, with criticism from residents vocal since it first appeared on council’s agenda in October last year.

Having already been debated twice and knocked back by council, the item was to make its third appearance at the invitation of the State Administrative Tribunal, which in February hosted mediation sessions between the proponent and City councillors.

Councillors Deb Hamblin and Mark Jones represented the council in mediation, with efforts to move the proposal to a different location unsuccessful.

At last Monday’s planning and engineering committee meeting, Cr Hamblin said the council faced the prospect of an adverse SAT ruling against them if they knocked it back for a third time.

She also cited a recent ruling from SAT against the City of Bayswater, which cost the city more than $100,000 in costs.

“For me, even though I (originally) voted against it, I feel we have given it every opportunity to try to change it from where it is — so I will be moving to approve the application,” she said.

Earlier in the committee meeting, Telstra acquisition manager Emily Pink gave a deputation and said Telstra had pursued the proposal in response to a demand for service.

“It’s purely network driven,” Ms Pink said.

“This is to do with data traffic, the download speeds and that data that people demand.

“With these facilities the technology needs to have close proximity to users of the network and to be central to those people.”

Speaking ahead of the March council meeting, Secret Harbour Residents Action Group spokesman Geoff Collins implored the council to stick to its guns and knock back the proposal for a third time.

“The community’s view is this is the worst possible position to locate the tower in the whole district of Secret Harbour,” he said.

Mr Collins said local residents could end up taking their fight against the proposal to the Australian Communications and Media Authority, depending on the outcome of the meeting.

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