A Development Application (DA) has been lodged to install a 20-metre telecommunications tower for Optus in Reid Park near the cricket nets. It would for a 20m monopole with three attached antennas and associated mounted telecommunications apparatus, a new cabinet at the base of the mast, security fencing, an access gate, ancillary equipment and associated works. It’s a big installation!
Management of the Park rests with TCCS Sports & Recreation Facilities who signed off on this DA knowing there would be no public consultation and, most likely, without consulting other areas of government. You will recall that the Reid Residents’ Association (RRA) has proposed the ACT Government develop a Comprehensive Management Plan for Reid Park that would include heritage requirements, the needs of all users (not just sporting); protection of the surrounding trees; water run-off and improvements to the built infrastructure. Community efforts have seen an ugly shipping container moved and a proposal for a concrete pump house referred to Heritage for consideration.
This proposal comes at a time when the Government has sacked its Heritage Council (a highly redacted report on its operations has been made public) and is proposing major changes to the planning system. Please find more information at www.reid.northcanberra.org.au/newsletter/.
While the application states that this Optus tower is temporary—just until they can find another site— there is a major risk that, once installed, the tower will remain in Reid Park. It is a much easier option that finding a new site and that applicant doesn’t seem to have tried very hard so far. Only the Canberra Centre Car Park was proposed as an alternative and it rejected the offer. The DOMA site would be ideal as work there has ‘temporarily’ stalled!
The applicant downplays the impact of the tower. There are no images to show its visual impact in the environment and the applicant admits that:
The height of the structure means that it will be inevitably visible from a number of distances within the surrounding area. Unfortunately, due to the nature of telecommunications facilities, they must be located on elevated ground to gain the best coverage possible, this has the unfortunate consequence of increasingly their visibility from surrounding viewpoints.
Yet the applicant states the tower will ‘have negligible impact on the character and use of the surrounding area’; is ‘compatible with the objective of the Reid Housing Precinct’; and claims that no landscaping is required to screen facilities at ground level because it ‘is only temporary in nature’.
If you live nearby, you may also want to check the noise generated and the levels of radiofrequency and electromagnetic energy.
The DA is on the ACT Government’s website and you can comment until 27 March 2023.