Glenlyon’s mobile black spot tower has finally been erected following more than a year of controversy which almost culminated in a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing.
The tower, which was jointly funded by the federal government and Telstra, was originally due to be delivered in 2016 but faced a series of delays after a group of residents complained about the tower’s visual amenity.
The issue was set to go before VCAT in December last year however the issue was struck out after legislative changes made it more difficult for challenges to be made against the installation of the towers.
In a statement, Telstra area general manager Steve Tinker said the company was in the final stages of the tower’s installation and looked forward to “delivering mobile coverage to the community for the first time in the coming weeks”.
A number of residents had queried the location of the 35-metre tower, which is situated within close proximity to residential properties along Daylesford-Malmsbury Road, saying it would have a detrimental effect on the landscape of the town.
Others had suggested the tower would provide better coverage in a different location.
Donna Kelly, who was the lead plaintiff in the VCAT case, said the location of the tower was a missed opportunity. “If it went on a hill it would give better coverage for more people.”
Wheatsheaf resident Tricia Dunlop, who had also questioned whether the tower would provide coverage for nearby areas, said she was now prepared to wait and see whether the tower would provide a genuine boost to reception.
Despite the segment of community opposition, in April 2016 the Hepburn Shire council voted unanimously in favour of the development, including the-then Holcombe Ward councillor Bill McClenaghan.
Current ward councillor John Cottrell said while other locations may have been preferable, “a tower is better than no tower”.
“There are always things that could have been done differently and potentially better but the fact is the mobile black spot program is working to a constrained budget,” Cr Cottrell said.
Hepburn Shire mayor Sebastian Klein said council had worked closely with both the federal government and Telstra to ensure the municipality received as many towers as possible.
“Our economic development officer really put a lot of effort in (to getting black spot towers) based largely on the fact that we’ve got one of the highest numbers of fire risk towns in the state,” Cr Klein said.
“Once they’re up people quickly forget they are there, they fall into the landscape like a power line.”