City council knocks back NBN tower

THE Ballarat City Council refused an NBN Co tower in bushland at Mount Helen after a show of strength from the community last night.

The 35-metre tall fixed wireless tower in Eddy Avenue was recommended by the council’s own planning officers to provide high-speed broadband coverage to the Buninyong area.

But after hearing more than an hour of passionately spoken submissions from the public at last night’s ordinary council meeting, Cr Peter Innes said he would move an alternative motion to reject the application.

“We’ve talked about visual impact tonight, we’ve talked about native vegetation removal and sense of community ... I really believe we need to refuse this application,” he said.

A number of local residents stood to deliver arguments as to why the tower should not get the go-ahead, citing environmental, visual, health and technological reasons.

Resident Peter Martin said the planning department was effectively pushing aside the objections of about 90 community members.

“It’s all that we have between Mount Helen and Buninyong and we love it,” he said.

“We want it preserved and we want it protected.”

An NBN Co spokesperson said the tower would provide high-speed broadband to 350 premises, with 20 per cent expected to take up the service.

The gallery heard NBN Co had significantly revised its original application to minimise tree removal and visual impacts.

Speaking in favour of the tower’s approval, Cr Vicki Coltman said NBN Co had been tasked by the federal government with rolling out a service to 100 per cent of Australian premises.

“This is a network and you can’t take the legs off a chair and expect it to stand,” she said.

But Cr Des Hudson said it would be better to maintain the status quo than impart something onto the community that it clearly did not want.

rachel.afflick@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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