The development of a new telecommunications tower in Glendale was among the list of sites approved by Lake Macquarie City Council during its final financial year meeting on Monday night.
The proposed facility, to be built at the site of the McDonalds Quarry on Reservoir Road, was initially opposed by hundreds of local residents in 2019 after health concerns were raised in an online planning application.
Concerned locals, who later formed a Facebook group opposing the development, expressed fear over radio frequency electromagnetic energy (RF EME) levels emitted by the structure.
“We have concerns in regards to the health risks this could potentially create in the future for residents living in this area,” one of the residents, Emma, said.
“The microwaves from cell phone towers can interfere with your body’s own EMF (Electromagnetic Field)’s, causing a variety of potential health problems including headaches, cancer, memory loss, birth defects and cardiovascular stress.
“[A] study has found cancer rates tripled among people living within 400 metres of a cell phone tower. Knowing there is a risk to my family and to the rest of the community living close by, I strongly object to this project.”
Aesthetics were also a concern for locals.
“The tower does not belong in the middle of where people are living in such close proximity as it is not only going to impact people’s health as studies reveal but also be an eyesore,” another resident, Chris, said.
“No one wants the tower in the middle of their suburb, hence the formal and informal protest to it.
“There has been a lack of community consultation about this and it seems like not everyone that should be aware of this development is.
“Stop this from happening so close to where people live and move it to a more reasonable location.”
A Lake Macquarie City Council spokesperson said Optus had been granted permission for the development with recommendations.
“The development was assessed against the national standard for RF EME set by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA),” the spokesperson said.
“The council endorses the development standard variation under clause 4.6 of the Lake Macquarie Local Environment Plan 2014, providing a maximum height of 30 metres, exceeding the 8.5 metre development standard by 21.5 metres or 253%.”
In other business, the council agreed to a 0% increase in Mayoral allowance and Councillor fees for 2020-21.
The council’s 2020-2021 budget had allowed for an increase of 2.5%, which equates to $12,574.
During Monday night’s meeting, it was recommended these funds be returned to council’s general fund, and used to offset the costs of the COVID-19 business and community support measures adopted by Council on 14 April.
The council also approved the demolition of buildings located on Dudley Road in Charlestown and Cumberland Street in Teralba.