'We'll move': Neighbours not consulted over new phone tower
TWO Ipswich families say they would rather move house than chance it with a new mobile phone tower being erected in their neighbourhood.
David Kaczmarek, who has lived in the northern suburb of Chuwar for 20 years, was informed via registered post only five weeks ago that a 30m phone tower had been approved for construction on his neighbour's property off Mt Crosby Rd.
The tower, which will provide 3G and 4G coverage to the known blackspot areas surrounding Chuwar, Karalee and Karana Downs will not have the new 5G technology attached to it.
The tower will be built less than 100m from Mr Kaczmarek's house, yet there was no requirement for him to be consulted on the Material Change of Use Application before it was approved by Ipswich City Council on June 25.
Despite Mr Kaczmarek and other neighbours opposing the positioning of the tower, it was a case of too little, too late. Opponents of the tower location were told in a response from Ipswich City Council the application was "code assessable" and did not include a formal public notification process.
Preparatory work at the site has started this week.
Mr Kaczmarek said he and other neighbours had concerns regarding the proximity of the tower to their homes.
"We have health concerns," he said.
"We don't really know what the long-term effects are.
"There is also the obvious visual impact. It changes our plans for this property, that's for sure."
Candice Burton, who lives several hundred metres from the tower site, said she was worried about how radiation from the tower could affect her existing heart condition.
Ms Burton said she and partner Carl Schulte had worked hard to establish their home up on the hill in Chuwar but would be prepared to move house for the sake of their health if the tower proceeded.
"We did some looking into the health effects. My neurologist has conceded there could be an increased health risk."
The overriding expert view is that 5G is no more harmful than 4G, or 3G, because it is classified as non-ionising radiation.
Mobile phones have never been proven to cause cancer.
Telstra, which is behind the new tower, says its test results show electromagnetic energy levels are well below the safety standards set by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency.
Telstra Regional general manager May Boisen said the site selected for the tower provided the best possible coverage.
"We looked at several other locations, however, the site at 399 Mt Crosby Rd is in the best position to provide coverage to the area, and meets the requirements under the Federal Government Mobile Blackspot Program," she said.
Locals including Mr Kaczmarek believe the former Chuwar dump site would have been a better location for the tower.
Both Telstra and Ipswich City Council refused to elaborate in detail about any of the other sites considered for the tower.
Federal MP for Blair Shayne Neumann has written to Visionstream - the contractor in charge of the tower project - and Ipswich City Council administrator Greg Chemello urging them to consider an alternative site for the project.
"While I have always advocated for the mobile Black Spot Program to be rolled out across various locations in Blair, I strongly support the position of local residents and the serious concerns they have raised with me," Mr Neumann said.
RADIATION IN PHONES A 'HEATING' RISK
DR ANDREW Maxwell, a senior lecturer in electronics and communications engineering at the University of Southern Queensland, says non-ionising radiation still has the potential to harm.
Dr Maxwell said the most important consideration when considering mobile phone towers was ensuring the design didn't send high-powered radiation where it wasn't intended.
"Non-ionising radiation won't break DNA chains but it can cause localised heating, in the same way a microwave excites water molecules to heat up your food," he said.
"Microwaves and Wi-Fi both utilise the same frequency of 2.4GHz, except the scale of the energy is much less, so you won't cook your brains using Wi-Fi.
"If you stuck your head inside a microwave, however, you would get a huge amount of heating.
"All radio waves can cause localised heating, the question is, how much do we allow? How much is safe enough so our bodies can cope?
"If I could avoid living up close to a tower, I would," he said.