A NATIONAL Broadband Network wireless tower has been cleared for construction in Dereel, after the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) quashed residents’ objections.
The ruling was handed down on May 17 after a hearing last month and means the area – a notorious mobile phone blackspot – will soon have access to high speed broadband.
The planning permit, initially approved by Golden Plains Shire Council, allows for a 40-metre-high monopole and communications facility to be built on Colac-Ballarat Road.
Dereel resident Greg Lehey, a supporter of the tower, said NBN had first been discussed in the area two years ago.
He said it was a step forward for communications in Dereel, but also added he won’t believe it’s happening “until the thing is actually built”.
“There’s no coverage of mobile phones in Dereel, internet coverage here is either wireless or satellite and is flakey. When the tower is finished we will finally have a proper internet connection,” he said.
Mr Lehey, who uses the internet instead of a phone line through Voice Over IP technology, said he thought the tower would be built within months.
He also hoped the decision would pave the way for a mobile phone tower to be built in the area, which many locals have been calling for.
A VCAT summary said the planning permit met the relevant principles in the telecommunications code of practice, including whether the tower had been located to minimise visual impact.
Residents objected to the tower on several other grounds, including potential health risks, lack of community consultation and property values, however, VCAT said these did not fall under the remit of planning.
NBN fixed wireless towers have been controversial in recent times, with a Bunninyong tower knocked back last year by the City of Ballarat due to its height, location, design and appearance.
Local residents in Mt Helen are also fighting a tower that has been proposed in their area, saying it will disturb the amenity of the area.
The NBN rollout is under way in Ballarat, with many properties already able to get access to the network.