Objectors claim 100 towers on way here. Telstra’s towering network

Hamish Heard
Telstra is planning to scatter up to 100 mobile phone towers throughout the region, according to a community group.
But the telecommunications giant has refused new requests to release a map identifying where it wants to put the towers.
Members of Richmond Oval Action Group claim the telco has ignored their pleas not to place an aerial on a light tower at their East Geelong park as part of its 3G rollout.
Group spokesperson Kerry Dumble said Telstra’s plans for her neighbourhood were just the tip of the iceberg, with other areas adjacent to local primary schools and homes also earmarked for towers.
“We have received advice that there will be about 100 towers built around Geelong, the Surf Coast and the Bellarine Peninsula,” Ms Dumble said.
The company had to place towers between 1.5 kilometres and three kilometres apart in built up areas to operate the new network, Ms Dumble said.
“They refuse to consult with the community because they know that the Telecommunications Act means they can put them anywhere they want,” she said.
“Every time we put our concerns to Telstra they accuse us of being ‘uneducated morons’, in those words.”
The residents fear health impacts, loss of public open space and visual pollution associated with the towers.
Member for Geelong Ian Trez-ise yesterday slammed the company for failing to meet his repeated demands for a map of local towers.
“They have refused on the grounds that the information is commercially sensitive and it would give their competitors an edge,” Mr Trezise said.
“If they don’t have a legal obligation to reveal their plans for the 3G rollout across Geelong, they certainly have a moral obligation.”
However, Telstra Countrywide acting general manager Geelong and Surf Coast Anthony Barnett hosed down claims of 100 towers throughout Geelong.
“I’d say the figure they’ve just blurted out would be incorrect,” Mr Barnett said.
“But I don’t have the exact figure at the moment.”
Mr Barnett refused to say whether the towers had to be less than three kilometres apart.
He said the company was consulting with communities in areas set for towers.
“We have very much addressed all the concerns that have been raised with us in relation to the Richmond Oval,” he said.
“We have also had a look at two alternative sites that group members themselves suggested and we’re currently taking stock of that at the moment.”
However, in letter signed by Mr Barnett dated two days before he spoke to the Independent he said alternative sites were unsuitable.
“Richmond Oval remains the most effective and discreet option,” the letter said.